Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Green hotels

I've always been enamored of those hotels that claim that they are green, with water saving notices all over the place and sustainable products available in the rooms. Of course, these hotels generally also claim they are built green, but these places are still far and few between. More importantly, they tend to be expensive and are usually "boutique" hotels. Which basically means they aren't kid friendly. Well, not my kid friendly.

When we checked into our hotel Friday night after finally actually getting on a flight to DC, we were told that the hotel was having issues with their air conditioning and were sending guests over to another hotel. Which meant we had to pack it back into a taxi and check into another hotel. I suspect this was a huge load of BS and they had overbooked our room, even though I had called early in the day to tell them that we would be arriving close to midnight.

Anyway, that one night in our substitute hotel was fortuitous because it did have a few features that I have yet to see in the big chain, mid-budget hotels. First of all, it had the ubiquitous water bottles, but it at least had hangers on them suggesting that you recycled the plastic behemoths after you were done consuming them. Because what's wrong with the tap water again?

The other thing they had going for them is actually two separate bins - one for waste and one for recycling. I've never seen this in a hotel before (even the boutiqueyish one we stayed at in NYC last summer) and was quite excited to be able to separate out my garbage, at least for one night.

Now back in our "real" hotel, they have no separate bins for waste which is annoying the hell out of me. They do have signs encouraging people to save their towels so that they save water, energy and detergent waste in the waterways. It's certainly a start (listen up Hilton), but they have a supremely long way to go.

I haven't gotten the impression yet that DC was all that environmentally friendly as I've seen few recycling bins in cafes (except Starbucks) and no sign of food composting. Which brings me to my next post, wherein I'll cover the food options we've had here in DC.

What about you? When you travel, have you been able to find environmentally friendly hotels? Do you try or are they out of your price range / family friendly requirements?


FernWise said...

You're in DC - there IS a problem with the tap water. Both lead from the old pipes (a fact the the water authority has been busted for covering up) and asbestos in the river they use as the water supply (from WWII defense contractor factories upstream).

We who live here tend to buy water for drinking/cooking, or have massive extra water filtration set ups in our homes.

Tree Huggin Momma said...

I was in the DC area in April. Took the girls for a week long trek. While none of my hotels where green, they all had a reuse towel policy. Being that if you wanted to reuse your towels and not waste the water, detergent energy to have them clean you were to hang them up, the ones you wanted washed were to be put on the floor in a pile (even the Hilton had this option). The greenest hotel we stayed at was the Hilton. There were no disposable water bottles in the room and no disposable cups. The had actual glasses in the room. No coffee maker (unless requested). The Hilton was across from a restaurant that was sustainable, the food was all local and sustainably grown, and no more pricey than any other restaurant in that area. To be fair we didn't stay in DC, we did the outskirts.
Even when staying in a non-"green" hotel you can still be green. You can take your recycleables with you (not so easy if you are flying) or call down to the front desk, they might actually have facilities for this. You can skip the bottled water and disposable items, and reuse your towels. We put a DND up when we check in and leave it until we leave, as we are perfectly capable of making our own beds in the morning.

Debbie said...

Recently attended a conference at a hotel. While they didn't have recycle containers in the room, they did have them all over the hotel. In addition, they had low flow toilets and you had to request a plastic bath mat if you wanted one. Baby steps...

Katy said...

I'll be honest... the only place I really travel to is Walt Disney World. We go once to twice a year and always stay on Disney property.

They have the reuse towel policey. Seprate bins for recycling. No bottle of water sitting in the room or throw away cups. The resorts do sell mugs that can be reused at their resturants for your entire stay, but they are plastic. They also have signs on your door reminding you to turn off all your lights and turn your A/C up while you are out. Also, if you leave your sliding glass door open while you sit on your balconey, the A/C in the room will automatically shut off.

One thing I like about Disney though, they have trash cans every two feet with recycling bins sitting right next to them and water fountians are easy to find.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

The last vacation I took was a road trip. We made it zero waste by bringing our own food, water, and reusable picnic supplies. I admit we do picnic meals now instead of restaurants because our dog travels with us and we can't leave him in a hot car. We also bring a jug of water from home mostly for him because my childhood dog sometimes had issues with local water when we traveled with her.

Farmer's Daughter said...

We don't travel much... but tend to enjoy more outdoorsy trips when we do rarely go away, so we're about as green as we plan to be.

Otherwise we go to family cabins in Maine or Vermont, where again we're as green as we normally are, pretty much.

Erin said...

We recently stayed at the Omni in Boston. The Omni "off the rack" is quite pricey, but if you look around there are bargains to be had there that make them highly reasonable. Anyway, they do the thing with the towels, only taking ones left on the floor, and they give you a card you can leave on the bed so they will make the bed daily but not change the sheets to further cut back on laundry waste. They do not offer disposable cups in the rooms, everything is glass or ceramic. However they do have the mini bar, et al with its trash available, though we did not use it. They also have someone come to the room to offer you the bottled water daily, so at least they are having people consider it before taking it just out of habit. No recycling, but I don't think we threw anything away while we were there either.... They also offered all natural (sls free, etc) bath products in their bathrooms.

MaddyG said...

I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Food in DC. We are relocating to the DC area, and I hope hope hope the area has options for locavores.
And I wish for you and your family many many satisfying and healthful culinary adventures on your trip.

Joan said...

A hotel in our town claims to be the top LEEDS hotel - "guidelines of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System". It won the rating of LEED Platinum

Shadow said...

One feature I'm used to in hotels in Europe, Japan, and China is the "electricity turns off when you pull your room key out of the doodad on the wall." It's great because they usually give you one key. You enter the room, stick it in the little slot, and the lights & A/C turn on. You leave & take the key with you, and in 30 sec all the lights & A/C turn off.

I wish I had one for my house ;)

koolchicken said...

I travel quite frequently and the "green" measures you mention are common place in most hotels. Also, it's the norm on cruise ships as well. I suspect it has more to do with saving money than the environment though.

FernWise said...

Maddy, DC is served by lots of CSA's for easy local food in the summer. Animal products are a bit more difficult - I get my meat by going in with friends and splitting hogs or halves of steers. Almost all chicken is local ... because the environmentally sucky Perdue chickens are raised on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

In winter getting local fruits and veggies is harder. I can and dry a lot of the summer produce.

SusanB said...

I just got back from a conference in DC, stayed at the Marriott Wardman Park and attended a conference at the Omni. Marriott gives a lot of lipservice to its green initiatives -- our hotel had instructions for how to separate reclyclables on a "if you want to do it" basis. Strangely, based on past experience, I saw nothing about towel/linen policy.
The conference had no water bottles -- rather water coolers and glass glasses, the box lunch was of course packed in a plastic clamshell.
On the other hand DC is very walkable, the public transportation is good, and most of the attractions are free.

Panamamama said...

It's hard to find green hotels, but not sure why! It seems like saving money would go hand in hand with being green and would make better business sense.

Bullwinkle said...

1. Single-stream recycling (because people are far too lazy/busy/arrogant to sort out recyclables).

2. Compared to the west coast, the food sucks. (Just get used to it and you won't be disappointed.)

3. Compost??? /sigh

But DC is walkable. (This week. Last week was a heat stroke waiting to happen.)

Ami said...

We just spent time with the in-law's at their timeshare in Kissimmee, and I was disgusted that there was NO recycling available at all. It blew my mind when I looked around at how many people were on site, and if just 20% of them used the recycling opportunity, that would be pounds and pounds of waste. Appearantly, Florida has strict water laws but don't charge for garbage yet!

Then when we went to Sea World, they had recycling bins FOR BOTTLES ONLY. Nevermind that our lunch also came in a #1 clamshell, it doesn't fit into the little bottle-shaped hole on the bin! So much for saving the animals.

Ellen said...

I just came back from Mexico. (Cancun and Chichen Itza areas specifically). Hard to be green there. Bottled water is everywhere, and recycling bins are few and far between. I tried googling the current state of Mexican tap water, and found opinions ranging from the water is fine, just people are used to bottled, to the water is fine for those who are used to it, to the water is horrid and Mexicans too poor to afford bottled water suffer from gastro problems constantly. I brought water bottles with filters designed for backpackers and had no problem with the water, but there's no way we could have used those at restaurants. If you don't poor your bottled water into the glass provided, some waiters will seem to almost get offended and poor the water in the glass for you. I can't understand dirtying another container when the water is already in a perfectly usable container. But even if I wanted to try to use my bottle, water bottles get so hot over the course of the day and it's really hard to refuse cold water when it's 90 degrees and no place has air conditioning.

Hilarie said...

I just had a chuckle as I read through your vacation thus far. We flew out of Seattle the day after you. Had a 3-hour flight delay, our water bottle leaked all over my bag so I had to dry all my clothes, our hotel caught fire so we had to be relocated to another hotel (then move back for the next couple of nights), etc. Sounds like we had the same type of trip!

As for greener hotels, I actually found several on this last trip that claimed to be "green" or "green certified" or some other thing. I did NOT find recycle bins, but I wondered if they sorted the trash. (I think the Seattle airport claimed to sort the trash thrown in the bins.) So there is some progress, I'm just not sure of the exact details.

Sharlene said...

I am a family travel writer and I am always seeking out eco-friendly options and try my best to both encourage eco-friendly options in hotels and highlight those who do provide more eco-friendly experiences. I have actually seen recycling trash cans in quite a few rooms (mostly on the the west coast) and I often see those "save water reuse your towel" cards which a really just a way for them to have to do less laundry without much concern for the envionment. One thing I LOVED that I saw at the Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton NP was a shampoo, conditioner, soap dispenser in the shower. just think about how many tiny bottles of shampoo hotels go through! What a great idea! I have also seen some feautures meant to save electricity which I really appreciate. There is no reason why a hotel room has to be set at 65 when nobody is in there (or at 65 period). I gripe about styrofoam cups in the breakfast room and the lack of recycling containers in public areas and I think some companies are starting to listen but we have a long way to go and its VERY SLOW going in the middle of the country.