Setting a good example for Airbnb guests doesn’t have to break the budget and just a few simple changes can make a positive impact on the environment.
It was hard not to get inspired by the ABC program War on Waste. We learnt that the amount of waste Australia produces has reached epic proportions. Only 21% of our waste is recycled or incinerated and the rest ends up in landfill. Which is quite annoying, considering most people recycle because it makes us feel we are doing our bit for the environment.
In any case, we need to take responsibility for the waste we produce, including the amount of waste that is generated by our Airbnb business.
To help you get started, we have put together a list of 9 ways you can transform your Airbnb into an environmentally friendly haven, whilst saving money in the process.
1. Provide Hotel Amenities in reusable containers
As a nation, we produce 660,000 tonnes of plastic waste every year and 10% of that plastic ends up in our beautiful oceans and waterways.
The hotel industry contributes massively to this waste pile, by providing little plastic amenities such as shampoo, conditioner, wrapped soap and shower caps. Only 15% of these amenities are used by guests, before they are thrown out by housekeeping staff, ending up in landfill and polluting our environment.
As Airbnb hosts we are part of the hotel industry, but we do not have to adopt the same bad habits or produce this much waste. Credit: Greengetaways.
Instead of supplying little plastic bottles to your guests, provide amenities in re-useable containers or wall-mounted dispensers. These containers can then be refilled by you or your cleaners with natural products from the local bulk food store.
Re-useable containers can be anything from 500ml Thankyou bottles to Mini glass Jars for laundry powder. Anything that holds product hygienically with a lid or only provides enough product for single-use.
Wall mounted dispensers have become a popular trend as hoteliers seek to reduce waste and costs. Credit: Hotel-Hotel Canberra
You may prefer to provide little soap bars for your guests instead of liquid hand soap in a reusable dispenser. This is a cheaper option, but to be environmentally friendly you will need to go without plastic packaging and recycle the left-over soap bars.
Soap manufacturers such as dendinaturals can provide 10g unwrapped guest soap, which is the perfect size to minimise waste. Alternatively, you can normally find a natural soap maker at the local markets.
Leftover soap bars can be recycled by companies such as SoapAid and Clean the World. Unused soap is cleaned and turned into new soap bars for communities facing major hygiene challenges. To date, SoapAid has donated 700,000 x 100g soap bars and saved 100 tonnes of soap from ending up in landfill.
2. Biodegradable Cleaning Products with reusable packaging
Most hosts provide general cleaning products for guests to use during their stay, such as spray and wipe, dishwashing liquid and laundry powder. These products can be provided in containers to be refilled and reused.
Biodegradable cleaning products are broken down by natural bacteria and are better for our environment. These products have been tested and proven to be just as effective as the harmful chemicals you can buy for cheap.
Cleaning products require a label, so choose a company that supplies both the 500ml spray bottles with label and the 5L – 20L bulk containers for refills. Make sure the bulk containers can be sent back to the manufacturer for reuse.
Many biodegradable, bulk cleaning products are found at Flannerys and other organic stores. Look for Brands such as Herbon, Enviroclean or Abode.
For hosts who conduct their own housekeeping, look for bulk cleaning products at wholesale prices. Two brands that ticks all of the boxes is Enzyme Wizard and Agar. These companies produce environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals in bulk and accept the old containers back for reuse.
3. Household Recycling System
Most people recycle at home, so why should it be any different when they are on holidays? Provide a separate bin for recycling under the sink to ensure guests don’t throw recycling in the garbage bin.
4. Quality Linen
Good quality linen lasts longer than cheap threads from Kmart. The initial higher cost for quality linen pays off in the long term, because you won’t need to replace your guest sheets every 6 months.
Instead of tossing old sheets into the garbage, turn your old sheets into rags for cleaning or donate them to charity.
The next best alternative is to hire a linen service. They bring high quality sheets to you and take the dirty ones away to be washed, dried and pressed. This service costs approximately $40 – $50 per turnover, but this also saves water, electricity and laundry powder being used at the property.
5. Water Flow Restriction
Water flow restriction saves water and decreases your water rates. Flow restriction devices can be installed in places like your shower head, bath faucet, taps and external hoses.
Most new shower heads are fitted with a shower pressure restrictor to save water. You can buy these cheap at Bunnings. Alternatively, instead of upgrading your bathroom and kitchen fixtures, just have a plumber or handyman install flow restrictors for you.
6. Air Conditioning Sensor
Air conditioning units can sometimes be left on when guests leave the property. Reduce your power bill by installing a smart controller and occupancy sensor.
Airconoff is one company that supplies both of these handy devices to minimise the costs of running air conditioning at your Airbnb. A smart remote regulates temperature and an occupancy sensor automatically turns off the unit when rooms are empty or when windows and doors are left open.
Prices range from $299 – $350 for both the smart remote and occupancy sensor. The cost is nothing when you consider you save double this amount in electricity costs per year.
7. Donation Box
Sometimes guests leave items behind and have no interest in claiming them back. This is where a donation box comes in handy.
Items such as lighters, chargers, hotel amenities, books, DVDs and beauty products can all be collected and put into the box for future guests to help themselves. Alternatively, donate unwanted items to charity or the homeless shelter instead of throwing them in the garbage bin.
Properties that are located in built-up urban areas benefit the most from providing bicycles to guests, because car parking is expensive or hard to find.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a second-hand bike that guests can use to ride down to local shops or the beach as an alternative to driving.
9. Energy Efficient Lights
Swapping your old incandescent bulb to low energy globes can significantly reduce your electricity costs.
LEDs are the most expensive, but they provide the best reduction in power consumption. The next best option is Compact Fluorescent Lights, followed by Halogens, which are 25% more efficient than a standard globe.
Make sure to recycle your old LEDs and CFLs at your local waste and recycling centre, because these globes cannot be placed in the trash like incandescent and halogens can.
*Fivestarhost has a zero-waste policy and encourages hosts to provide containers for our housekeepers to refill. Contact Us today and ask about our Hotel to Hands Program.