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Hotels Need Local Products

The Million Tons of Trash Challenge developed by the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) is a great example of the many sustainable initiatives being launched across the hospitality industry. The aim is to have participating  hotels track the waste they are able to recycle or compost instead of throwing away. With major players like Oracle and American Express Travel associated with the project, it is sure to help promote better waste management practices across the industry. 

Another way to greatly reduce the environmental impact of meetings and conferences is to source products locally. Hotels can save money, reduce their carbon footprint, and help support their local economy by purchasing as many items as possible from regional vendors. The first LEED Gold certified hotel in the mid-west, the CityFlats Hotel in Holland, MI , had many materials shipped to Holland and assembled locally. 

A favorite example of mine is Green Mill Village (GMV), a conference center scheduled to open in 2010 in Arcola, IL. They are looking to local Amish craftspeople to build all of the furniture throughout their hotel and center. In addition to the initial purchases made for the hotel, GMV will continue to support the regional economy by allowing guests to purchase any item they see in their room, a majority of which will be made in the area. These local products decrease the carbon emissions related to transportation of products from outside the state. There will also be several wind mills on site that, along with the solar panels, will provide the entire village with clean, renewable electricty.  

The final program that I would like to highlight is Farmers, Foragers, and Fishermen, an initiative that just got underway at the Loews Coranado Bay Resort in San Diego. The idea is to highlight one local producer each season and feature them at special dinners. Loews head chef and the purveyor of honor interact with guests during a four course meal, sharing the history and details of their company and explaining why working with local producers is an important step in creating vibrant local economies throughout the country.

So next time you find yourself dining at a hotel, make it a point to select the locally produced fare. It will be fresher than something shipped across the country, it will often be a speciality of the region in which you find yourself, and the increased demand you help create will provide the hotel with an incentive to seek out more local vendors. And as I’ve said, items produced near a hotel decrease the environmental impact of the facility by reducing the transportation needed to link a vendor with clients and it helps to keep local economies strong.

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