Making Sustainability Stylish

Main Photo: The trend of hotel development today

Date: May 2021

Location: Global

Name: An article by Bethany Ross of Design Collective by Cintas

Who They: Bethany Ross has been with Cintas for nine years and held various business development and sales leadership roles at Cintas. Prior to her current role, Ms. Ross was a Major Account Manager for Cintas’ Hospitality & Luxury clients in Southern California for five years followed by two years as the Regional Hospitality Director managing the Northeast Market.

Her current role, Ms. Ross leads their Hospitality Lodging segment, their National Gaming segment and continue to oversee our National Account segment. She is a graduate of California State University – Long Beach with a degree in Fashion Merchandising. Bethany Ross can be contacted via this link.

What Did She Say: The COVID-19 pandemic has changed people’s priorities in many aspects of their lives, including travel. Booking.com recently released the findings of a global research report in which analysts asked travellers if and how they planned to travel differently when borders reopen.

The report found that 53% of global travelers wanted “to travel more sustainably in the future as Coronavirus has opened their eyes to humans’ impact on the environment.” Another 69% of respondents said they expect the travel industry to offer more sustainable travel options.

Sustainability practices make good business sense for hotels as consumers increasingly seek out green businesses and are willing to pay more for eco-friendly products and services. In fact, one in three consumers prefer sustainable brands. The same is true for travellers. A 2019 travel report found that 70% of global travelers say they would be more likely to book an accommodation knowing it was eco-friendly, whether they were looking for a sustainable stay or not. More and more hotels are investing time and resources to embrace social responsibility. For example, large brands like Marriott, Hyatt, Accor and Hilton are eliminating single-use plastics at properties around the world, among other things.

Hotel must stay on top of customer demands and market trends to secure customer loyalty and longevity. By going green, hotels can appeal to more eco-conscious travelers. A study by market research firm Mandala Research found that 60 percent of U.S. travellers have taken a “sustainable” trip in the last three years and that these travellers spend on average $600 per trip and stay three days longer than the average guest. You can bring sustainable best-practices to your property by implementing eco-apparel and recycling old textiles.

Stylish, Sustainable Designs: The very act of having an employee apparel program can help reduce the amount of individuals’ clothing consumption. However, it also matters where that apparel comes from and how it’s made. Inspired by nature and fueled by fashion, designers are creating apparel collections utilizing recycled and plant-based materials, blending luxury and sustainability.

For example, recycled polyester is created from post-consumer plastic bottles that are collected, washed and sorted, then ground into flakes and used as new raw material. Recycling plastic bottles into fibers saves energy consumption, helps divert waste from landfills, and reduces CO2 emissions. Many sustainable products can also be laundered at home, which can save up to $1,000 a year in dry cleaning expenses.

Another option is recycled polyester. It’s developed when post-consumer polyethylene terepthalate (PET) plastics, like water bottles, are diverted from the waste stream and broken down into staple fiber, which is developed into wearable fabric. Unlike traditional polyester uniforms, recycled polyester garments can be thrown into normal washers and dryers, eliminating the need for dry cleaning.

In addition to recycled polyester, natural fibres such as organic cotton, industrial hemp and bamboo are being used in the development of eco-fabrics. These natural fibers are grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and genetically modified seeds.

Textile Waste: The U.S. seems to be at the end of its thread when it comes to textile waste. Americans bought twice as many pieces of clothing in 2015 as they did in 2000, according to ThredUp’s 2019 Resale Report. Textile waste, which is considered municipal solid waste (MSW), represented 6.1% of MSW generation and totaled 16 million tons in 2016, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The recycling rate for all textiles was 15.3% in 2015, with 2.5 million tons recycled. The remaining textiles are either combusted or sent to landfill.

Unfortunately, textile waste has drastically increased over the years. According to the American Apparel and Footwear Association, 1.76 million tons of MSW textiles were generated in 1960. In 1990, this figure rose to 5.81 million tons, an increase of 230%. The next 25 years witnessed another 175% increase in the amount of textile MSW generated in the U.S. While recycling rates have risen since 1960, so too has the use of combustion and landfills to manage textiles.

Reusing Textiles: Although 95% of used textiles can be recycled, a staggering 85% aren’t. Too often, textiles are thrown away rather than donated or recycled. Apparel programs provide uniforms to hotel employees in every job function to bring an added level of professionalism to these workers. However, like any clothing item, work apparel can become stained, torn or ill-fitting with weight gain or loss. Additionally, most organizations like to refresh uniforms on a regular basis, or offer workers different garments to accommodate different seasons like winter and summer.

It’s important to remember that textile waste isn’t limited to wearables. Manufacturing scraps such as trimmings and hems can also be discarded and sent to landfill. Additionally, the hospitality industry uses a large volume of linen in the form of towels, bed sheets and cloth napkins. Staining, damage and theft result in the need to frequently replace these items.

JW Marriott properties in the U.S. participated in a uniform recycling program when the company launched a new wardrobe collection. Recycling programs collect out-of-service garments from each property and ship them to a central location to send to a recycling vendor. The apparel is shredded and re-purposed for future use by a third-party vendor. A certificate of destruction is provided showing total number of pounds received and recycled. By recycling apparel hotels can reduce their carbon footprint by avoiding landfill waste. Meanwhile, programs exist that allow hotels to recycle sheet sets into children’s pajamas or other useful items that communities in need can sell for profit.

A Greener Future: The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way tourists think about travel and the impact it has on the planet. As the world slowly reopens, more travelers will be more committed to minimizing the footprint of their journeys and seeking out eco-friendly properties at their final destinations. Hospitality professionals can use the pause in travel as an opportunity to reflect and take stock of their environmental footprint and ultimately, reshape the sector by making more sustainable changes for a greener future.

One of the projects we are looking for funding for, in Greece

THPT Comment: This is the first of a regular series of articles we shall be posting regarding sustainability, both in the building, as well as in the running of hotels and wellness centres. We have a few projects looking for funding, from like-minded investors… Call us for details

First Seen: Cintas and Hotel Executive

The Hotel Property Team (THPT) is a small group of highly experienced business professionals. Between us, we provide a range of skills and experience which is directly relevant to those involved in the hotel property market.

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