August 30, 2018

Dear Boston Green Tourism Members,

Our fall meetings will be October 11 at The Langham, Boston and December 6 at Sheraton Boston. 

As always, please contact me if you have questions about greening your hotel, or if you want me to make a presentation at your property. 

What will Replace the Plastic Straw?                 
This year, Marriott , Hilton , Hyatt MGM Resorts ,   Four Seasons , Taj Hotels , AccorHotels , Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line and other hotel chains  have  pledged to phase out  plastic straws. Many other businesses (Starbucks, American Airlines,  Ikea, SeaWorld, etc.) and governments 
(Seattle,  Miami Beach, Oakland etc.)  have  done so, too. 
To put the plastic straw issue in context, straws are a tiny component of 
the plastic waste that litters our  oceans and land. But to many people, 
straws  are a symbol of a single-use, non-recyclable and damaging 
plastic product that's wasteful and  unnecessary.
There has been some push-back. Certain people  prefer them or need  them, 
like young children and those with disabilities  and sensitive teeth or gums. 
One sensible approach is to offer straws, plastic or otherwise, only  upon request.  That  will sharply reduce plastic waste and cut the expense  of plastic straw alternatives.
Here's a list of products that replace plastic straws. The reusable ones  (metal, glass, bamboo and silicone) should be cleaned with a brush before placed in the  dishwasher. The other straws are compostable (paper, straw, pasta, seaweed) or recyclable  ( Starbucks'  plastic lid for cold drinks).
  • Bamboo straws are attractive and cheap. Choose ones that are treated, polished and cured, because they're durable and dishwasher-safe.
  • Metal straws, including stainless steel, are attractive and reusable. However, they conduct the heat from hot drinks, they're expensive, inflexible and can be sharp or jarring to the teeth.
  • Glass straws are also reusable. Choose ones made from borosilicate, which is highly resistant to shattering, chipping and cracking, and is usable with cold and hot liquids.
  • Silicone straws are made from food-grade silicone, which isn't a plastic. They're soft and flexible, which works well for young children and disabled adults.
  • Paper straws are popular and inexpensive, but they do have their detractors. Aardvark claims that its paper straws are durable, yet compostable in commercial facilities.
  • Straws made from straw (!) can be composted after use. Some are made from wheat and could impact people with gluten-sensitivity.
  • Pasta straws are biodegradable and are said to hold their shape well over the course of a meal. Gluten-free pasta straws are being developed.
  • Seaweed straws: A Hilton hotel in Hawaii is using edible straws made from seaweed. They're edible and come in different flavors.
  • "Adult sippy cups": Starbucks has developed a recyclable plastic straw-less lid for its iced drinks.
( Recyclable PLA plastic straws a re made from renewable resources like sugarcane or corn starch. However, I don't recommend them, because they aren't environmentally-friendly. They only decompose in commercial composting facilities. When littered, they create the same problem as traditional plastic straws. Besides, many composting facilities don't want PLA products.)

The movement to replace plastic straws is young, and there are many competitors. It will be interesting to see which alternatives become popular.


Amy Cavanaugh, Hotels, August 13

Hotel bartenders use a great deal of ice.

A Denver bartender examined his staff's ice use and found that their procedures for making several drinks were very wasteful. So he changed them--and sharply cut the restaurant's ice consumption. The property now saves on water, energy and sewer bills.

$1.5 million solar investment provides all electrical energy for Courtyard-Lancaster
High Company LLC, July 11

If your hotel wants to benefit from solar energy but doesn't have sufficient roof space, consider the approach taken by  the High Hotels group for its Courtyard by Marriott Lancaster (Pennsylvania) property. 
High Hotels is installing 2700 solar panels that will produce 100% of the electricity (1.2 million kWh / year) for its 133-room Courtyard Lancaster hotel. The project cost is $1.5 million, with $500,000 covered by a grant. The grantor will receive money from the RECs, which it will use to fund other solar projects. The 2700-panel array is the size of two football fields and will be installed at the nearby Greenfield Corporate Center.

Marriott International was a partner on this project.
What are the marketing benefits? The first line of the hotel website reads, "The Courtyard Lancaster is Marriott's first 100% solar supplied hotel in the U.S."
Tall urban hotels don't have the roof space to produce much solar energy onsite. But they can go solar if they're creative, like the High Hotels group.

Lodging, May 24
Wyndham Hotels and Resorts will begin to roll out Stay Well rooms in 2019. They're designed to promote sleep.
The rooms will feature green products and ideas, like organic cotton mattresses; an air purification system that adds an extra layer of filtration; and a biophilic-inspired design, "with color and texture like ocean waves [that] create an atmosphere of...calm."
The Stay Well rooms also feature circadian light that's similar to the color of outdoor light and an alarm clock that simulates the sunrise.


The following meeting will be 2:30 to 4:00. 

October 11
The Langham, Boston
December 6 Sheraton Boston

Boston Green Tourism
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