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The perils of climate change are omnipresent in our society today. People around the world are coming to terms with our rapidly changing environment. Many are taking steps to limit their impact upon it. Short-term rental hosts are no exception. If you haven’t examined your own hospitality practices, there’s no better time than now to consider ways you can become a more earth-friendly host!
The good news is that you already have a leg-up on the traditional hospitality industry. Travelers staying in an Airbnb tend to have a lower environmental impact than standard hotel-goers. Airbnb hosts help make that happen with 88% practicing some form of sustainable hosting. Chances are, you’re one of them!
We are long-time hosts of our own Airbnb and responsible for many others in the Portland area. As such, we actively seek practices that help minimize hospitality’s overall environmental impact. Maybe our quick and easy tips for earth-friendly hosting will jumpstart your own eco brainstorm.
Ditch the Pods
That Keurig coffee machine* certainly can be easy to use. It was once a trendy device that made a good impression. The global climate crisis demands more from us, though. What does trash filled with unrecyclable, single-use plastic pods say about our efforts?
We have hosted practically every coffee setup possible. Guests are just as happy with:
The most important consideration is to ensure something is available at the start of day. The true connoisseurs will find somewhere better and far more quintessentially Portland, to scratch their coffee itch anyway.
Thinking of ubiquitous plastic, let’s cover amenities a little more. Hotel chains tend to provide guests with teeny, tiny bottles of shampoo and conditioner. When your hair is as long and thick as mine, you just hope no one else in your group will actually need any! You might also find tiny, individually wrapped plastic (or sometimes paper) soap for the shower and sink.
As the proprietor of your own little 5-star boutique, you are empowered to make earth-friendly host decision. Offer refillable shampoo, conditioner and body wash in the shower. We have hosted thousands of happy guests with a wall-mounted 3-partitioned dispenser* that keeps refills easy. Liquid hand soap in the bathroom and kitchen can be filled in a nice, reusable containers. Whatever you do, stick with the same brands and scents so you can easily replenish with back stock.
Riches in Rags
Remember when antibacterial wipes were all the rage? Then, scientists later informed us: 1) wipes actually do not remove bacteria from surfaces and 2) anti-bacterial product overuse is harmful to humans.
Anti-bacterial soaps can disrupt hormone production causing long-term health implications. If overused, they have the potential to generate super bacteria resistant to all anti-bacterial applications. Worse yet, they perform no better than traditional soap.
Ditch the trash-clogging one-use wipes and embrace sustainable cotton rags for cleaning. Rags are great for wiping mirrors as well as surfaces in common areas, kitchens and bathrooms. When dirty, wash them in hot water with a dose of your favorite disinfecting agent. Ours is white vinegar. Add it to the rinse agent dispenser and you’ll find it’s the perfect natural softener for your very earth-friendly host reusable rags.
Natural Cleaning Products
Natural cleaners can address practically every cleaning need in a short-term rental. Diluted white vinegar water provides disinfecting properties and is a great surface wipe for remotes, light switches and surfaces — basically any place germs like to hide.
Known as castile soap, these vegetable oil derived cleansers are fantastic for combating oily buildup. Grease is present in obvious places like the kitchen stovetop and sink but also in less-considered spots like the bathtub. Castile soap or a baking soda abrasion tends to be the best approach for keeping that bathtub sparkling!
Water, Water Everywhere
In many places, municipal tap water is full of chemicals, leaving it practically undrinkable. In Portland, we are blessed to have less of those potentially harmful chemicals that can leave other municipal tap water tasting so bad.
We’ve heard a lot recently about lead in city water sources. The potential for it to appear is based partly upon the age of the home. Homes built before 1970 have a much higher propensity for lead pipes. This could leach lead into the home’s water system. Luckily hosts in the city of Portland and surrounding areas can access free water testing to determine the prevalence of lead in the water.
Once you know that your water quality is safe for guests to drink, leave a simple sign next to the kitchen sink that indicate the water is “Safe to Drink”. We also leave a bit of that tasty tap water chilling for the guests in the fridge for the perfect welcome and so they can use the reusable bottle during their trip. These simple changes have dramatically reduced the number of single-use plastic water bottles since we instituted it a couple of years ago.
Inevitably, our efforts won’t completely eliminate single-use plastic water bottles, and guests certainly find other fun liquids to drink from plastic bottles besides water. Luckily, we have a great option for those too. Ensourced is proud to support the efforts of the Wayfinding Academy to revolutionize higher education.
In Oregon, plastic bottles are redeemable which means you pay a $0.10 per bottle deposit when you buy your refreshing liquid beverage. To encourage you to return that bottle, Oregon will credit you back that $0.10 deposit. Ensourced collects them on behalf of the Wayfinding Academy using Oregon’s BottleDrop Fundraising program. In 2019, we are on-track to contribute 20+ bags of redeemables for their program.
Obviously, these ideas only scratch the earth-friendly host surface. Perhaps it’s given you food for thought. We’d love to hear about some of your favorite ways to limit the impact of your hosting experience.
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