To be honest, I kind of organically fell into sustainable travel. It all started about two months ago when I discovered Bees Wrap in a boutique in San Diego. The product blew my mind, reusable food storage paper made out of cotton and beeswax. It is genius. More about that HERE. That got me thinking...travel produces A LOT of waste. Travel sized shampoos, plastic water bottles, and individually packaged products are huge contributors to plastics filling our oceans and rivers. To no surprise, this is bringing harm to our marine life and ecosystems. This is just one small example of how travel can negatively impact the environment. Good news for us, it's preventable!! I took a deep dive into sustainable travel products and discovered the travel industry is doing a lot of amazing work in order to make the industry eco-friendlier. I immediately knew I needed to share that with the world.
I come from a background of public health, where the ultimate goal is to improve the health and wellness of the public. There is a lot of overlap in my interests in public health and sustainability. I took a climate change and public health course while in graduate school and learned all about how to make the world a more sustainable place through public health practices, many of which can be directly applied to the travel industry. I truly believe sustainability improves the environment and the public’s health and I am excited to learn how that can be achieved through travel, and sharing it with you.
Which brings me to my most recent adventure, a long weekend in Washington state and Vancouver, BC, Canada. Vancouver is working towards being the Greenest City in The World by 2020- talk about doing BIG things. I am in awe of the great initiatives Vancouver is spearheading to work towards their goal of being the Greenest City. Read all about their initiatives HERE.
I had the opportunity to spend the morning with Kristyna Voguel, Marketing and Public Relations Manager at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver. She shared a plethora of information about the Fairmont’s initiatives including a rooftop vegetable and herb garden, honey bee hives, and a commitment to producing zero waste. A hotel that produces zero waste: MIND BLOWN. Note: Zero waste meaning at least 90% being diverted from landfills
I am so impressed that a large hotel such as The Fairmont can make a large, positive impact on the community. Maybe this was a misconception going in, but I assumed large hotel chains would put a note on your sheets and towels saying we try not to wash our towels every day - which is absolutely a great first step - and then forget all about glass and plastic waste, recycling, organic foods, local foods, etc. This was not the case at The Fairmont.
The Fairmont Waterfront has set a high bar for future properties I visit. Every aspect of the hotel is made as environmentally friendly as possible. Here are just a few of the sustainable initiatives The Fairmont Waterfront has implemented at their property:
-Zero waste—This includes replacing plastic with glass, no paper towels in restrooms, and recycling bins in every room.
-Composting all food waste and using it as fertilizer in the rooftop garden.
-Unused shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion get consolidated and put into larger containers and sent to a local homeless shelter.
-The rooftop is home to about half a million bees. The bees produce honey which is used in the restaurant in salad dressings, cocktails, entrees, and more. Plus: the rooftop is a Certified Wildlife Friendly Habitat!
-The honey is also used by a Wayward, a local distillery, to craft Drunken Hive Rum (which I can’t wait to try!)
-Educating local children about gardening and bee keeping
-Working towards eliminating all plastic water bottles used on site
-Complimentary parking for electric vehicles
-Complimentary bike rentals
and the list goes on…
The Fairmont Waterfront is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful properties I have ever stayed in, and I truly felt like I was making a difference by staying there. The biggest lesson learned from my time in Vancouver and the Fairmont Waterfront—sustainable travel requires a grassroots movement at the bottom and enthusiastic support from the top to enable a culture of making the world a better place. The friendly staff at the Fairmont Waterfront are committed and passionate about sustainability from top to bottom, and this enables the property to achieve these impressive initiatives.
A big thank you to Kristyna and the wonderful staff at The Fairmont for having us and making us feel right at home. I commend you on the great work you are doing to make the world a better, more sustainable place, and I can't wait to see what you'll do next.