Earth day

I wish it could be Earth Day every day

As the world marks another Earth Day, there’s a palpable growth in public support within the short-term rental sector as more and more individuals and companies commit to combatting climate change. However, most years, this surge of environmental consciousness feels short-lived.

While we should be grateful that so many more people within our industry are concerned about climate change now than ever before, it seems that for many, it’s not a constant concern. Aside from Earth Day and the few days of record-breaking high temperatures that are now a permanent fixture of our summers, for many people, climate change is still not front-of-mind most of the time.

That’s not to say that you should always be living under the constant shadow of climate anxiety, much less absorbing the “it’s too late” narrative that we see on social media. But it’s definitely critical that we all take climate change seriously and make changes all year round, not just on Earth Day.

On Earth Day, many people make pledges: you might pledge to always carry a reusable bag when you go shopping, or reduce your meat consumption, for example. In the short-term rental sector, there are a whole host of opportunities for “easy wins” with great consequences for the environmental impact of businesses, but also their guest relations, brand, and bottom line. What pledges can the short-term rental sector make to become more sustainable?

A great place to start is with the free resources of EnviroRental. At Abode Worldwide, we’re proud to support pro bono with EnviroRental to get their message out far and wide, because if we don’t protect our planet today, there won’t be any planet to explore tomorrow.

EnviroRental’s roadmap starts off with simple steps to guide your path to reducing emissions, including:

1. Energy efficiency

An easy first step for any home — rental or otherwise — is to switch to renewable energy. While your own solar panels are a big expense, switching to a renewable energy provider is affordable and easy in most places. Secondly, look at how you can save energy. LED lightbulbs, which use at least 75% less energy than traditional bulbs, are an easy switch to save both energy and money.

A large part of the puzzle is also guest education: very few of us would leave all the lights on or the heating at full blast with all the windows open at home (when we’re paying the bills!), but on vacation, our energy sensibilities seem to go out the window — with the conditioned air! Smart home devices, timers, and sensible, non-patronising communication can help guests to understand the impact of their actions, as well as keeping bills down.

2. Waste reduction

It’s much easier to avoid waste at home than while traveling. You might pick up a plastic water bottle at the airport (because airports do not make it easy to find water fountains!), get to the supermarket and find only liters of olive oil when you just need a few splashes, and be put off by a new and confusing recycling system and just one bin in your rental.

Of course, property managers can make a big difference in all of these situations. Providing reusable water bottles and filters where appropriate, and letting guests know in advance that they will be able to use these, will save them buying lots of plastic bottles. To avoid food waste in your rental, provide refillable basics where regulations allow, and look into food banks or donation schemes for leftover, untouched food that your guests aren’t able to take with them. And finally, providing clear instructions and facilities for separating recycling is easy — if you aren’t sure, your local authority will have information for you.

3. Put your money where your mouth is

Everything we buy has an impact on the environment. Before buying things, do your research and check if there’s a better alternative. This applies to everyone, but especially to tourism professionals. We can take the example of many hotels that have switched from thousands of miniature toiletries to wall-mounted dispensers or large bottles that can be refilled, saving tons of plastic every year. From furniture to cleaning products, everything you buy for your short-term rental has an impact somewhere down the supply chain. Buy second hand where you can, and pay attention to the provenance and ingredients of what you buy first hand.

EnviroRental has even more detailed steps in their free resources, available on their website. Why not make your Earth Day Pledge something a little more permanent: may the 22nd April simply be the first day of a longer path towards sustainability!

For more simple, actionable tips, you can join the first-ever Scale Green conference in London on the 23rd April (tomorrow!), to hear from experts in the field how to take the next steps towards becoming a more sustainable business.

Madeleine Parkin draws on more than five years of experience working with customers, owners, and press in the short-term rental sector to help the industry grow and shine. With a degree in Modern and Medieval Languages from the University of Cambridge, Madeleine is a strong and creative communicator and a reliable teammate, particularly motivated by environmental activism.

Based in Barcelona for more than six years, Madeleine speaks five languages and is passionate about personal connections and storytelling.

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