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  • Stephan Busch

Sustainability or Green washing? Hospitality should do better!

As it really disappoints me to see the so many attempts of green washing I am happy that I can also find some good examples.

I have witnessed for the first time a very good solution to eliminating plastic waste on a wine and food fare in Germany that impressed me.

Key was the flawless organisation

It wasn’t totally new but very well organised. Instead of plastic cups, cutlery and plastic plates and containers wine was served in real glasses, food and coffee in Porcelain and cutlery was solid metal. All outside! All the guest had to do was to buy a 2 Euro token – take it to the stand that was selling wine – give the token and wine was served in a nice glass. Once you finished you could get a re – fill (new glass while turning in the used one) or drop it of at the convenient located dishwash where in return you received a new token in exchange for the glass. Same with plates and cutlery. And you could use your token again!

It left the place clean as everybody returned his glasses and plates, no overflowing garbage bins – no dirty tables and the pleasure of using real forks, plates and glasses. The key was that everything was well thought of. Location were well chosen to keep the ways short. Staff was always attentive and explained with tremendous patience the procedure to everyone – including me. Great job – well organized.

The other side

Replacing plastic straws seems to be the solution if we believe the news and advertising. Bamboo cups turned out to be poisoned ( no wonder when only a fraction is bamboo).

It is pure green washing when a Cruise company like Carnival praises themselves for such action when at the same time a person like Chris Donald, Carnival Corp.’s senior vice president of corporate environmental compliance admits that they are illegally polluting the oceans daily by openly saying the following :

“We want to get all of our fleet to a position where they are no longer discharging food waste illegally into the ocean,”

(October 25th, Miami Herald)

– When do you want to do that? You are operating and polluting 30 years with 100 ships? But thanks for making clear where we are right now with Carnival.

Don’t fool the guest

Guest are more and more looking for green signs in hotels or a trace of corporate social responsibility. And they are not that easy to fool. As the following quote from a recent research shows they might just not come back when the smell green washing.

"We were surprised to discover consumers with high environmental concern don't have an 'all or nothing' attitude," said Chi. "Our results showed when ecologically conscious consumers know a hotel is not truly green, they will still use the linen reuse program but they will not revisit the hotel.

("Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Washington State University hospitality researchers Imran Rahman, Jeongdoo Park and Christina Geng-qing Chi investigate the consequences of green washing in the lodging industry)

Are you producing plastic?

The media is doing their part when I read headlines like “Every citizen is producing thousands of kilo plastic garbage every year”. Well – I don’t and I don’t know any of my neighbors, friends or relatives who are producing plastic in their spare time. The plastic garbage is produced by big companies like BASF, Johnson & Johnson and many other who make billions every year and have a lobby in every parlament. We are forced to use them. A simple law banning the production would do the job. Alternatives are there and creativity would be sparked. But will the alternative solutions sponsor our politicians? That’s probably the key question.

Author: Stephan Busch, Academic Director at the State University for the Humanities Moscow RGGU, Faculty of Tourism & Hospitality earned his Master Certificate in Hospitality Management from Cornell University, USA. He has a diverse experience in launching operations, business development and service training- for hotel and cruise companies in Asia, Europe, Canada and,

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