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Guest blogger Jackie Edwards reminds us about our everyday choices and suggests sustainable ways to start the new year!

Humans have unarguably an enormous impact on our planet. With a growing population needing ever more resources, it’s really important to think about how your life has an impact on the environment around you, and take responsibility.

Some of the greatest effects are the most obvious – like air travel, for example, which is why being a sustainable traveller is really important. However, there are plenty of things to think about a little closer to home as well – consumption of petrol in the USA has more than quadrupled since the 1950s. Sustainability is important in all areas of our lives but really does begin in the home. Small changes to your everyday life will add up over the years to help make a positive impact for generations to come, so consider what you can do differently.

 

Consumable resources

Reducing your water and electricity consumption is a great place to start. Both are necessary to everyday life, but making sure that you are using it efficiently and without unnecessary waste is really important. Get your plumbing checked out for any leaks, and reduce the amount of water your toilet uses to flush – and even try an eco-friendly shower-head. Swap your light bulbs for low-energy LED models, and remember to turn them off when leaving a room – as well as other electrical items like your TV or laptop. You can also help the bigger picture by switching energy suppliers to one committed to using green renewable power.  

 

What’s on the table?

Sustainability isn’t simply about using less: it’s also being smarter about what we do use. Take a look at your pantry and fridge: where does your food come from? How far has it travelled to reach your plate, and how sustainable are the growing and manufacturing processes. You don’t necessarily have to turn vegan, but choosing ethical and sustainable local sources for your meat and dairy products is one way to reduce your impact. Buy only what you need to reduce wastage, and set up a compost bin in your garden to avoid sending any organic scraps to landfill.

 

Shopping and material goods

Whether you’re picking up your weekly shopping or making a big, one-off purchase, take a moment to think about the wider impacts of your choice. Home cleaning products, for example, can contain some really nasty chemicals, which create problems further down the water system – and make sure that as much packaging for food and other products you buy is recyclable or reusable. This is also a good idea to consider when you’re choosing big-ticket items like furniture or electrical equipment: what is its lifespan and how will you get rid of it? Make sure it can be recycled or re-used, and consider paying a bit extra for a quality product that will last longer.

 

Some of these changes will require altering habits and comforts we just take for granted – but with a commitment to sustainability driving you, it won’t be long before this becomes the norm and you can be more confident about your impact on the planet.

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Interview with Javad Hatami, CMO & Co-founder, Optishower

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email interview with Javad Hatami, CMO & Co-founder, Optishower

1.    In 2-3 sentences, what is your product, what does it do? What is your elevator pitch?

Optishower integrated solution helps hotels achieve operational excellence, decrease water and electricity consumption, and ensure the highest levels of guest satisfaction. We use IoT-based smart sensors to monitor water and electricity in buildings; engage and motivate guest to reduce the utility consumption by gamification techniques.

2.    Where did your inspiration for this idea come from? 

It was started from a friendly discussion between two co-founders.  Me and Mohamamdhossein, very close friend of mine and the co-founder of Optishower, were both avid travelers. We’ve been to many countries and usually we stayed in hotels during our travels. The idea came from the observation about high levels of water that was wasted in bathrooms and once someone enters a hotel they usually don’t care about the consumption. We found that 1) guests don’t know about their consumption and 2) they don’t know how they can help environment and avoid unnecessary consumption, 3) and most importantly, they don’t have any incentive to do so.  We found there is not any tailored solution for hospitality sector to tackle these challenges. It was the begging of our journey to create Optishower.

 

3.    Why should hotels be interested? 

Our solution could benefits hotels in 3 different ways:

1)      Optishower technology supports hotels to benchmark the current status of their buildings in terms of consumption and find out any bottlenecks to implement more efficient and sustainable technologies. Optishower could also help hotels to achieve their Corporate Social Responsibility goals in terms of Sustainable Responsible Operations.

2)      Finding leakages in big buildings is hard and time consuming. Our technology can detect any leakage in water pipes and abnormalities in electrical system of building, thus it saves money and time for hoteliers to avoid any damages and losses.

3)       Optishower platform connects guests to their consumption. We use gamification techniques to engage guests with their water and electricity consumption in-room. Therefore, this technology could be used as a new feature to transform in-room guest experience. Moreover, reduction in utility consumption leads to increase in profit margins of hotels.

 

4.    What are some of the initial results you are seeing?

Once our technology is implemented, it can provide lots of data and insights about status of consumption in hotels. Our technology makes utility consumption visible and easily understandable. The recent result from our pilot test in Marriott Amsterdam demonstrated that if guests know about their consumption, they were more conscious and could make more smart choice of water and electricity usage in rooms. We found behavior change is a key component to leverage sustainability status in hotels.

 

5.    What is your vision for this technology/app? What does success look like to you?

Our aim is consumption behavior change through user engagement. We aim to provide data and insight to hotel guests mixed with gamification techniques, so they can make better and smarter consumption decisions.  On the other hand, we aim to provide a platform that makes life easier and more convenient for hoteliers. We are envisioning a system that is an integral part of each hotel and provides visibility on all corners of water and electricity consumption in the hotel. Success for us means developing a solution that makes the lives of hotel guests easier and more comfortable, and provides new and seamless experiences that also positively contributes to environment.

 

6.    What is the role of tech in sustainability for the hospitality industry? 

Technology plays an important role in achieving sustainability goals in hospitality. New technologies that help hotels’ business become resource efficient can both create a competitive cost advantage and further reinforce brand focus on sustainability at the same time. This investment can be profitable and resonate the brand in the heart of customers. For example, new technologies that drives environmentally friendly atmosphere can have positive impact on guest experience. At the end of day, what the guest feels and thinks about the hotel experience leaves an impression with the guest that has a direct impact on occupancy and ADR.

 

7.    What have been your biggest challenges?

As a tech start up that wanted to disrupt travel and hospitality sector, our main challenge was to understand the major pain in the hospitality sector and to craft an innovative and wining solution for that. We looked to the hospitality sector and found that sustainability is still a luxury word; everyone talks about it, but nobody wants to implement it. We looked to the current solutions that exist and found that most, if not all, of them are technology-based and lack active end-user engagement. It took some time for us to find a way to connect tech with social and economic behavior strategies to craft a specific solution that deals with sustainability challenges in the hospitality sector.

 

8.    What is your prediction for the future of hotels, particularly in terms of sustainability and guest engagement? 

There is a visible trend in the travel and hospitality market that guests prefer sustainable tourism as a requirement in their travel. Personalization also would be a key component of future hotel service. The hotel of the future offers new and diverse experiences that can evolve with the guest. If you want to have a hotel that is sustainable and provides personalized service, you need clear engagement with your guest regarding your sustainability activities. I believe tech and behavior science are helping at that stage to provide innovative solutions that transform the guest experience. Hotels of the future would integrate sustainability as their core elements from hotel design to operation, therefore technology will bring innovative environmentally-friendly solutions to provide seamless experiences for guests in the future.

 

9.    In your opinion, what should the sustainable guest experience look like? 

I believe the trend in the travel industry where sustainability is an important concern is increasing. There are statistics and surveys demonstrating that more and more guests are booking green and eco-friendly hotels.  Sustainable design offers such travelers a place where they can feel comfortable spending their time and money. These environmentally conscious travelers likely expect sustainability efforts in the design of rooms, reducing waste, saving water and promoting green activities in operation, energy-efficient appliances, recycling programs and gluten-free meals, at the very least. Recent advances in technology made it possible to re-design hotels according to green practices. Hospitality is always about experience and connecting people. Environment influences behavior and mindset, and guests are sensitive to small things in their surrounding that change their mood. For example, rooms with new designs that enjoy lots of natural sunlight is more likely to be perceived as energizing and inspiring. To offer a sustainable guest experience, hoteliers should think about innovative ideas that combines suitability with new experiences. As an example, lamps that are energy efficient yet offers a relaxing environment for guests would create a memorable and authentic experience for guests during their stay in a hotel.

10. Anything else you’d like the reader to know about yourself or Optishower? 

Optishower is a Portuguese brand offering an innovative platform for the hospitality sector with a very disrupting idea that incorporates elements from tech to social behavior. As a young tech start up in the travel industry, we believe proactive engagement of guests is a key to achieve sustainability in the hospitality sector. Recently, our disruptive idea has grabbed the attention of Marriott hotels and we have been selected from around 150 applicants from 24 countries to pilot our technology, as part of Marriott test bed acceleration program, in Marriott Amsterdam.

 

 

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Credit: Nick Cote for The New York Times

Even casual readers of the news know that the earth is probably going to look very different in 2100, and not in a good way.

The real culprit of the climate crisis is not any particular form of consumption, production or regulation but rather the very way in which we globally produce, which is for profit rather than for sustainability. So long as this order is in place, the crisis will continue and, given its progressive nature, worsen. This is a hard fact to confront. But averting our eyes from a seemingly intractable problem does not make it any less a problem. It should be stated plainly: It’s capitalism that is at fault.

Read the full article talking about the climate crisis in a different way here.

By Benjamin Y. Fong for The New York Times.

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Today, the United States observes Thanksgiving – an event commonly associated with the arrival of Pilgrims and Puritans from England in the early 17th century.

Tomorrow is Black Friday – where shops in America (and other countries) offer big discounts and sales to mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. The shopping frenzy that occurs on Black Friday results in excessive consumerism with millions of people around the world purchasing goods, often without giving much thought to the environmental effects of their production and disposal.

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Here are some ways to counter the negative impacts of conspicuous consumption:

Go Against the Grain – Buy Nothing! buy keep-calm-and-dont-shop-green
Grassroots organisations that aim to increase people’s awareness to excessive consumerism have been gaining ground. One of the more popular movements is ‘Buy Nothing Day’ (BND) which intentionally occurs on Black Friday. Instead of consuming, thousands of people from at least 60 countries who take part go on a 24-hour spending detox.

In addition to buying nothing, BND supporters also organise activities like “zombie walks”, where participants walk around shopping malls with blank stares in their faces. There is also the “Wildcat General Strike” where people keep all their lights, electronics and other appliances turned off for a day. They don’t use their mobile phones or cars either!

Saturday Splurge
Critics of Buy Nothing Day point out that people tend to go on a shopping binge the day after. In comes ‘Small Business Saturday’ where shoppers are encouraged to support local economies by spending their money on local and independent shops instead of big retailers. (Here’s why it’s important.) Last year, American Express, a founding partner of the event, reported that 95 million people went out to shop at small businesses on Small Business Saturday, spending US$14.3 billion on purchases.

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Don’t Stop There
Being a sustainable shopper shouldn’t be limited to the holiday season. It is a conscious choice we should make with every single purchase. As always, the ultimate goal is living a life that is healthy for us and therefore the environment. Making sustainable choices is a lifetime challenge, but do it often enough and it becomes second-nature.

Remember that you’re not alone in this fight! Check out our Green Tips articles on how to form new sustainable habits and apps for a sustainable lifestyle.

And stay tuned next week, as we shine a light on people living alternative green lifestyles (think minimalists, freegans and dumpster divers).

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Trash Me with Rob Greenfield

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trash Rob Greenfield on the Salt Flats in Bolivia.

Rob Greenfield on the Salt Flats in Bolivia.

The average American creates 4.5 pounds of trash per day, so for 30 days, Rob Greenfield is going to live just like the average American. He’ll eat, shop, and consume like the average American. The catch? He has to wear every piece of trash he creates. 4.5 pounds of trash per day, will add up to 135 pounds of trash by day 30. That’s almost his body weight!

Most people never think twice about the trash they make. Once it’s in the garbage can it’s out of sight out of mind and although the 4.5 pounds of trash per day statistic is widely known, very few visuals exist to help people truly understand it. Through this project, Rob along with a team of filmmakers is out to change that for good. Trash Me will create an unforgettable and shocking visual of the trash that most of us create everyday that will stick in the minds of people and inspire them to drastically reduce the amount of trash they make. By keeping this project highly entertaining and eye catching, Trash Me will reach both people who have never thought about their waste as well as environmentalists who want to do better.

Throughout the 30 days, we will be covering the project live with a series of videos, Facebook live stream tutorials, blogs and media coverage. Rob will be a walking billboard of environmental awareness to educate and inspire people to make positive changes in their life to reduce their waste. And once the project is over we’ll release a film too. Follow the journey and on Rob’s Facebook page, and YouTube channel.

By Rob Greenfield. Read more about Rob’s adventures on RobGreenfield.TV.

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The Tourism Satellite Accounts 2007-08 Summary Spreadsheets provide each of Australia’s states and territories with comprehensive data on the economic impacts of visitor expenditure on their economies. The research has been undertaken by STCRC to help inform policy and planning initiatives for the three tiers of government and provide data for tourism industry representative bodies and tourism operators to support decisions in the areas of industry investment, advocacy, marketing, education and training. The Economic Contribution of Tourism to Australian States and Territories 2007–08 presents an overview of the economic impacts of visitor expenditure on state and territory economies as estimated in STCRC’s Tourism Satellite Accounts 2007–08. This document is intended to provide a ‘plain language’ simplified explanation of tourism’s economic contribution to Australia’s states and territories for the period 2007–08.

by Theip van Ho, Ray Spurr, Daniel Pumbudi, Peter Forsyth, Larry Dwyer and Serajul Hoque

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Tourism Satellite Account Victoria 2006/07

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This report provides estimates of the contribution of tourism to the economy of Western Australia. It replaces an earlier report released in March 2007. The estimates from the earlier report have been revised to reflect revisions to benchmark National data which were incorporated in the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) released on 11 May 2007.

by Ray Spurr, Thiep Van Ho, Peter Forsyth, Larry Dwyer, Daniel Pambudi and Serajul Hoque

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TSA-WA

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This report provides estimates of the contribution of tourism to the economy of Victoria. It replaces an earlier report released in March 2007. The estimates from the earlier report have been revised to reflect revisions to benchmark national data, which were incorporated in the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) released on 11 May 2007.

by Ray Spurr, Thiep Van Ho, Peter Forsyth, Larry Dwyer, Daniel Pambudi and Serajul Hoque

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Tourism Satellite Account Victoria 2003/04

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