Green & sustainable hospitality? Aren't we lying to ourselves?
Hotels & restaurants have always tried to be sustainable and green. Here we are talking about the small, independent businesses that were connected to their roots and only used local and seasonal products, because they know their neighbors were able to work economically this way but also because of their honest connection to their community. Meat from the local butcher and vegetables from neighboring farmers were known, good and no one was ever ripped off.
The emotional connection to the big discounter, on the other hand, did not exist. Just no personal connection - no reason! When meat and vegetables ran out on Sunday when the business was booming, you called butcher Meier and farmer Schmidt and he quickly brought something over. At the discounter, the automatic message ran that from Monday mangoes from Thailand would be available again for only 99 cents the kilo and the bananas individually wrapped in plastic guarantee freshness. Build relationships?
But globalization meant that it had to be meat from Argentina, peaches from the local farmer got rotten while mangoes from Vietnam were hip, freshly caught crabs from the North Sea do not go directly to the market, but are shipped frozen to Morocco, then thawed, be shipped frozen again to the North Sea and then get on the menu. Very sustainable!
The Green Party (Germany) for fracking gas and LNG
While scrubbers are praised for filtering exhaust gas pollutants from cruise ships, almost no mention is made of the toxic collected sludge of toxic metals and chemicals and oils being dumped now directly into the ocean.
The Greens have managed to build a terminal with taxpayers' money in Germany that can accept LNG gas. It is not often mentioned that this is US fracking gas that has to be cooled down to minus 150 degrees with methane and each time it is reloaded, methane escapes which is 10 times more harmful to the atmosphere than CO2. The Gas ships run on heavy fuel oil, which we divert with scrubbers on the cruise ships but not on these freighters. That makes sense!
The small shampoo bottle disappeared to be replaced by the large plastic waste
The change of many hotels and cruise ships from small shampoo bottles and other amenities to refillable containers was celebrated as a success, but one must have overlooked that the containers are refilled from large plastic bottles and containers which then end up as garbage. Is that a success?
The Corona garbage is not even mentioned
The corona measures worldwide have resulted in plastic and other garbage being produced for short disposable use. With 447 million inhabitants in the EU and a recommended maximum wearing time for masks, that's 5 billion masks of garbage per day in the EU alone. There are also disinfection dispensers that are also refilled from plastic containers, as well as test sets and vaccination waste.
The ban on restaurant visits led to a switch to pick-up and delivery service, which in turn generates huge amounts of garbage. Millions of plastic face shields have been produced that are now considered worthless and also end up in the trash.
Some hotel chains have produced millions of plastic stickers that are stuck to the door after cleaning the room and promise disinfection and cleanliness. They end up in the garbage immediately afterwards. Doesn't anyone question such decisions on the corporate floors of the hotel chains?
So what do we do to honestly work green?
We ourselves will have to make an effort to use local products and try to avoid rubbish. That's easier said than done. Just trying to do without plastic is almost impossible because almost everything is packed in plastic. It is worth a try though.
As long as politics does not act against senseless plastic waste production - and politician do nothing - we will remain part of the waste society. Buying locally is also important, but against the price dumping of global suppliers, it often does not make financial sense.
We have to start with ourselves even if that seems impossible - it will make a difference!
At the moment, green and sustainable is almost only marketing & PR! Hopefully those who grow up now and will later sit in the boardrooms have learned something new. It is up to us to give good examples - and if it is only on a small scale - so that they learn that it makes sense to behave differently and more responsible.
Author: Stephan Busch, for many years Academic Director at the State University for the Humanities Moscow RGGU, Faculty of Tourism & Hospitality and the Swiss International University 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 Russia.