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How can I make my hotel or motel more sustainable? A guide to help you.

When speaking to our customers one of the common things we hear is, “We want to become more environmentally friendly, but we don’t know where to start, and we’re also worried it will negatively impact our guest’s experience.”

So, if you have had similar thoughts don’t worry, you’re not alone.

There are many things that you can do, albeit small things that you may feel are insignificant, but when you add it all together it starts to have an impact. And guess what? Your guests will start to notice, and they will thank you for it.

To help guide you on your sustainability journey here are the 3 main environmentally responsible principles to follow: 

  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Recycle

Let’s break these down for you…


One of the first steps you can take in becoming more sustainable is to look for ways to reduce your impact.

Look at everything that comes into your hotel or motel, everything that happens, and what you can do to reduce power and water consumption, waste, and your motel’s carbon footprint.

Power Consumption: 

Are you using the most energy-efficient lighting? LED lighting is a great place to start. This has been proven time and time again. It reduces power consumption and in turn, it reduces your power bill, and who doesn’t want to lower that? Then look further into other electrical items like the appliances you have in your rooms. Could they be more energy efficient? Domestic appliances typically use more energy than hospitality-specific products. For example, when manufacturers of domestic appliances design their products it is for a home that would normally only have one kettle, one iron, or one hairdryer. Whereas when you are operating a hotel or motel you have many of each item so the wattage of these appliances becomes quite important.

Water Consumption:

Have a look at your water consumption, are you maximizing your loads of washing? Whether you are washing your guest towels or washing your cleaning cloths, look to see if you are ensuring the loads are not half full as this uses a lot more energy and water than if you have the loads at full capacity. Also, ensure you ask your guests to help you reduce the water usage by reusing their towels instead of requesting new ones. Nowadays many hotels and motels are putting signage in their bathrooms asking guests to hang their towels up if they are happy to reuse them. A lot of guests are doing this now because they are becoming more environmentally conscious and more aware of how their decisions can affect the planet. It’s also important you don’t overlook things like the size of your kettles in the rooms. In most cases a hotel room only has 1 or 2 guests, so why give them a large kettle to fill up and boil? A smaller 800ml or 1-litre kettle will help reduce your water consumption. As creatures of habit, people tend to fill a kettle right up so if you give them a domestic kettle (typically 1.7 litres) compared to a Hotel or Motel specific kettle (800ml or 1000ml) this will reduce your water consumption.


Look at the waste you are disposing of every day. Whether it be from your staff or your guests you will find this very helpful in identifying which products create waste or get wasted daily. Things like plastic, extra packaging and possibly even food waste? Once you make a list of these points it will quickly help you determine which areas to focus on and what the best approach is to minimize your waste. One of the biggest contributors to waste is the small toiletries that are half used and thrown out. Check here to see more information on this (link to toiletries vs dispensers). It’s important to remember, if you reduce your waste you will also lower your removal fees and ultimately save your hotel or motel money in the long run.

Carbon Footprint:

In recent years there has been a big push to find locally produced or locally sourced products to help reduce the carbon footprint associated with shipping and transporting overseas goods. Although certain products simply cannot be made here, other items can be, such as some bathroom toiletries or food and beverage products. Another way to minimize your environmental impact is to have one supplier. Having one supplier eliminates the need for multiple delivery vehicles which results in less fuel being used and less pollution emitted into the air. REUSE

Another area that can help you on your sustainable journey is to find ways to Reuse things safely and hygienically, without impacting your guests’ experience.

Bathroom Dispensers:

There is a huge shift globally to change away from small individual toiletries (aka – guest amenities) to bulk dispensers. This has a large impact on reducing plastic going to landfills, a guest typically uses 15ml per wash and most small bottles are anywhere between 20ml – 40ml. Here is some useful information about toiletries vs dispensers that will help. You may be thinking that your guests don’t like dispensers and they want individual bottles, but this mindset has drastically changed with travellers globally. Having a refillable system for dispensers will help you reuse the bottles in the rooms rather than throwing them out. Check out our article that goes through the.


Today the hygiene regulations have become stricter to ensure your guest’s safety and to fight the battle against COVID-19. To maintain these new standards, as a hotel/motel operator, you need the right products when cleaning the common touchpoints in the room between guest visits… but with all this additional cleaning you’re probably finding your housekeeping supplies are quickly gone. The good news is there are ways of reducing the amount of chemicals you use by using microfibre cleaning cloths. Microfibre cloths are one of the best cleaning tools around. It removes 99% of bacteria on surfaces and outlasts other cleaning cloths which saves you money. There are also other cleaning products like enzyme-based cleaners that are safer for the environment and safer for the users. 


Who knew we as humans would master the art of creating so much waste? But… we have also designed many things that can be recycled. 

Typically, guests used to favour gilded chandeliers over caring about the environmental impact but nowadays your guests are a lot savvier and are prepared to help you in your quest to recycle more.

Here are some things to consider when it comes to recycling:

Bathroom Amenities:

Whether you are using small toiletries or larger soap dispensers these can tend to create a lot of plastic waste for your hotel/motel that can and should be recycled. You may be thinking that it is impossible to recycle partly used bottles because the liquid needs to be removed before you can recycle it. The good news is there is a solution through The Hotel WEKA. This environmental partnership is an end-to-end recycling program focused on helping you make a difference one piece at a time, and it doesn’t matter if your bottles are partly full or empty this program makes it so easy to pave a new way forward.

Guest Room Recycling:

You may think that your guests wouldn’t want to sort their rubbish into waste or recyclable, but the reality is the majority do. They are all used to doing it at home for curbside recycling, so it has become the norm. To make this as effortless as possible you could place a recycle bin in the main guest room rather than in the bathroom. This not only gives them a visual queue but is a quick and easy way to separate their waste, which in the end helps you achieve your sustainability goals.  


Having part used small soaps left over in the bathroom is such a waste. That’s why SOAP AID has come up with a way to recycle partly used hotel and motel soap bars. It is sanitized and then repurposed into large bars of soap which are then sent to 3rd world countries. The aim is to distribute the soap to people who need help with hand hygiene. Soap Aid is truly saving lives.

In Summary:

Sustainability is a journey, not a destination, so it is important to look at what will have the most impact on your hotel/motel and make a plan to implement some of these changes. Look for initiatives that your guest will notice the most, so they are aware of your changes, which they will be ever thankful for.

Like some help with starting the journey? Feel free to reach out to us, one of our team would be delighted to help.


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About the author

Reuben Beatson

Focused on making it easy for New Zealand’s Hotel & Motel industry to create those memorable guest experiences that are key to their success, I am truly passionate about the NZ hotel industry and have been working with hoteliers for over 21 years. Living the reason we exist - To create moments of delight for people every day.