Charity begins at home: Sustainability greenwashing in hospitality ⭐


Sustainability is a crucial aspect of growth, whether for a society or a business. The hospitality industry is one of the significant contributors to the economy. Hence, sustainability should a key focus area in this segment.

Sustainability is a big topic in Indian Hospitality also nowadays. We see big promises by small and big brands. But when it comes to delivery, many fail. And this is precisely greenwashing!

Recently I had an opportunity to visit a five-star hotel in Kochi managed by an international brand with its sustainability propaganda globally. When I entered the lobby at around 3 AM, the vast lobby area lighting was fully on. There was absolutely nobody as a guest. Also, I could see many unwanted lights in many areas of the hotel. Why do we need this?

How can such a hotel demonstrate itself as a sustainable hotel and ask the guests to minimise the power usage because they are a sustainable brand? If we don’t begin the charity at home, we can’t preach it outside. Demonstrating ourselves is the best way to preach.

When I got the opportunity to discuss such issues with my industry colleagues, they had various explanations like the architecture of the hotel etc. I agree that when an architect makes a hotel, he or she might not have thought about the sustainability impact of their aesthetic designs or lighting. They create pieces of beauty, and that’s their job. This is where a hospitality investor should think about involving a sustainability expert or a green builder.

When I was escorting a group recently, I stayed in a hotel where I found one light on my balcony was on and I had no switch in my room to switch it off before I went to bed. But when I woke up the next day, it was off. I was wondering how can this happen. I wanted to find the secret and waited until evening, and I came out to see how other balconies looked at night. Then I found that this balcony lighting is an aesthetic element added to the architecture of the hotel where all 70 balconies have this light which is controlled on a single switch managed by the reception.


I fully agree that these lights lit on the 70 balconies have an aesthetic synchronisation to the building. But the question is whether we can afford such wastage of power. Can we blame the world for pointing out Tourism & Hospitality as the most significant contributor to Co2 emissions?

For a hotel unit, electricity is a significant contributor to its recurring expenses, and this is the best area where they can bring down their costs if managed responsibly. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen. For this to happen, the management should have a clear vision of sustainability management within the organisation. Without strong involvement and transparency, no management can implement sustainability in their organisation.

I can challenge any hospitality unit that they can quickly reduce at least 10% of their power usage if they have a will to do so. Let us forget about sustainability and It’s money saved when we reduce our consumption! And it’s a great model for the employees and guests.

When we talk about the reduction in power usage, it doesn’t stick to the lights alone. There are many other areas one unit may find the opportunity to save power. Without taking all possible efforts on such sustainable efforts, one can’t promote responsible management of the resources. This will end up in the conscious travellers saying “Greenwashing”.

Continue Reading… In the next session, we will discuss how precious is water!

Also Read: Charity begins at home: Behavioural sustainability in hotels

(George Scaria is Managing Director of Keralavoyages India Pvt Ltd, a Travelife certified tour operator company. He is one among what Kerala tourism is today. He is a GSTC Certified Sustainable Tourism Professional.)

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.)


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