At the recently concluded Globe 2010 Conference, one of the topics discussed was “Consumption and Retail.” David Cheesewright, CEO of Wal-Mart, Canada, pointed out that a philosophy of “buy less” isn't one that will resonate all that well with retailers...or consumers. Still though, as Jeffrey Hollender, CEO of 7th Generation, the Vt.-based poster child of sustainable corporations, said, there truly can be a path followed of “how to be a less bad business.”
Marriott International has come up with a way to combine consumption with their environmental standard of doing business and they've done so by putting their sheer weight in numbers and purchasing power in practice by purchasing sustainably.
Greener key cards. Marriott has “unlocked” the door to a greener hotel stay by purchasing 24 million key cards made of 50 percent recycled material, saving 66 tons of plastic from being dumped in the landfill.
Marriott International and its sister property, Renaissance Hotels, spend about $10 billion each year buying products and services for its more than 3,500 hotels around the world. “Recognizing this purchasing power, we’ve teamed up with our vendors to introduce these 'greener' solutions at no extra cost.”
Recycled pens. The 47 million pens that Marriott purchases for its guest and meeting rooms in the U.S. and Canada are made of 75% recycled material.
The Inn & Conference Center by Marriott, at the University of Maryland in D.C., earned its U.S.G.B.C. LEED certification thereby distinguishing it as the first environmentally-friendly hotel and conference center in the U.S. Marriott's Headquarters, also in D.C., was the first site in the D.C. area to introduce Connect by Hertz which makes SmartWay cars available for employees who use public transportation or carpool for their use during the day. http://www.marriott.com/marriott.mi?page=green_buildings
Conferences and meetings are two areas Marriott International has focused considerable attention on in terms of waste, energy and carbon footprint reduction. It has been awarded more Energy Star labels than any other hotel company and it has committed to reducing greenhouse gases by 40,000 tons annually.
The average meeting at a Marriott Hotel:
Has 1,000 attendees, spans 3 days, produces 12 tons of trash, uses 200,000 kilowatts of power and 100,000 gallons of water. Here are some best practices Marriott has put in place to lighten that waste, energy and carbon load:
- 100 % post-consumer fiber writing pads
- Meeting rooms set with pitchers of water rather than bottled water
- Bic Ecolutions pens made from recycled content and biodegradable ink
- Access to recycling containers in or near meeting rooms
- Boxed lunches in recyclable containers including biodegradable cutlery, kits and napkins
- Organic, sustainable and natural food and beverage options including Fair Trade teas, coffee and chocolate options for meeting rooms.
- Banquet buffet tables go linenless and are made of 49% recycled aluminum and are 99% recyclable
- Safe-to-donate food given to designated food banks
When you stop to realize that we need 11 earths to sustain our current level of consumption habits in North America, all these shifts help and help considerably. Consumer behavior change is key.
Marriott's Four Green Keys designation also earned its being chosen as an Olympic Family Hotel – the IOC stayed at the downtown Vancouver property as well as the Olympic Broadcasting Service. At that property, they have switched out all the TV sets to energy efficient TVs, they compost and donate that to urban gardens, and they use biodegradable cleaning supplies. They're also nestled up against the water and overlook Stanley Park, two inspirational landscapes that nature freely displays. “Vancouver is already a natural beauty destination,” is a pervasive feeling visitors to the city are easily overcome with.
In Hollywood, the Renaissance Hotel abuts the Kodak Theater, home to the annual Academy Awards, and therefore the ready choice of accommodation for attending guests, family and friends.
A few more things they've shifted with their Marriott purchasing muscle:
Low VOC Paint. Marriott buys nearly one million gallons of paint that are low in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), which are safer and less polluting.
Eco-pillows. Marriott began replacing last year the 100,000 synthetic pillows that it purchases with those filled with material made from recycled bottles.
Coreless toilet paper. By the beginning of April, 2010, 500 hotels will offer “coreless” toilet paper, thereby eliminating 2 million cores a year, saving about 119 trees, nearly 3 million gallons of water, and 21 tons of packaging waste annually.
Earth-friendly towels. The one million towels Marriott purchases in North America don’t need to be pre-washed, thanks to a unique manufacturing process, saving six million gallons of water.
We were assured by Marriott that they are “happy to look at fresh ideas.” We've got three for them: Uniforms could be made from eco-textiles; In-room bath amenities could be organic and packaged in recyclable containers; Bathrobes could be made out of organic cotton or another eco-friendly fabric.
When you're talking about quantities like 47 million pens, these are no small green things.