Would Kermit the Frog be a Guest in Your Hotel?
By Bonnie Knutson Professor, The School of Hospitality Business/MSU | October 23, 2011
- Do you remember when a footprint meant the mark you left in the snow or sand?
- Do you remember when a footprint meant the trail you left in the mud outside your dorm room when you tried to sneak out after hours?
- Do you remember when a footprint meant the precious, lasting impression left when you had your children gently press their tiny toes into the freshly poured concrete patio?
Well, move over snow, sand, dorms, and concrete. In today's environmentally conscious world, your footprint is likely to be carbon. Just for fun, I googled the definition of "carbon footprint" and got more than eight million hits. Is it any wonder that Kermit the Frog laments…
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold-
or something much more colorful like that."(1)
For your hotel, the question is, Is it or isn't it easy being green? The answer is, No and Yes. It is No because no one really knows exactly what being green means. It's too hard. It's too expensive. It's too confusing.
Is going green being eco-friendly by changing all the light bulbs in your property to the ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs? It is estimated that if every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, enough energy would be saved to light more than 3 million homes for a year, saving more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars. If this estimate is true, think about the collective impact of all our hotels could have.
Is it reducing the use of Styrofoam cups in your food and beverage operation? Is it adopting landscaping practices that are compatible with the natural surroundings? Is being green recycling paper or installing low-flow commodes in all your hotel's bathrooms? Is it developing a car pooling program for your employees? It is all of these and more. The problem is that green is so vague that it makes it hard for any hotel to claim it is genuinely being green.