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Water: our precious liquid asset

As we head from spring to summer, water will be in greater demand, so in this issue I’ve decided to address the current situation regarding the consumption of water as we strive to conserve this precious asset and be more sustainable.

Even so, this can only be a snapshot, but I hope it will provoke some blue-sky (or perhaps blue-water) thinking. Housekeeping is undergoing a change driven by customers’ demand for greater social responsibility, environmentally friendly products, and a commitment to sustainability.

How many times do we flush the loo during cleaning?

Sustainability is defined as not harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources and supporting long-term ecological balance. In the context of ‘Sustainable Cleaning’ this refers to practices and products that are focused on conserving resources while protecting the environment and those who live and work in it.

This drive is being reinforced by a new, younger, more conscientious generation of customers. The most successful housekeeping teams are offering exceptional, consistent service, and meeting these new green expectations. When our potential guests are looking for a hotel room, many now put more thought into “Is this hotel environmentally responsible?” before making a booking.

What is their favoured hotel’s commitment to sustainability? We have seen over the last few years how important this has become to the younger generation and encouraging the older generation to consider sustainability too when selecting somewhere to stay is becoming more evident.

Cuts in energy, water, waste, and chemical use are often a key part of any sustainability policy. Plus, we must remember that sustainability can also be about efficiency as opposed to cuts.

In 2016 the World Economic Forum named water as a top business risk – by 2030 70 per cent of the global economy is expected to be affected by water scarcity. Like other businesses the hospitality industry is under increasing pressure to reduce water consumption. According to the UK’s Environment Agency, hotels can potentially halve the amount of water consumed per guest per night – but how?

Identify how much water we use and what is the cost of this

As a starting point, your hotel will need to identify your current water use and costs, going back at least three months. This will help to set an achievable target for water reduction. Consider installing water meters and taking regular readings to identify where the consumption of water is highest.

Have a plan to conserve water

Having measured how much is used now

  • Identify where the major water costs are and what savings can be made
  • Calculate the water used per guest per night by taking the total water consumed in guest rooms in a month and dividing it by the number of guests
  • Can you access funding to support your plan?
  • Establish water saving targets – for each department and for the whole hotel
  • Communicate the commitment to water reduction goals
  • Encourage feedback from your teams

Housekeeping

Train staff on ways to reduce water use

  • How many times to flush the toilet when cleaning
  • Stop leaving taps running or using excessive water
  • When preparing cleaning solutions, does it need to be five litres of water when two will do?
  • Save water and reduce cleaning agent consumption: think what you are throwing away
  • At the end of the shift have a cleaning – disinfection solution prepared to clean equipment and trollies. Do not let water run for rinsing
We can all play a part in reducing water consumption

The real challenge

Reducing water consumption is about making the whole housekeeping job more sustainable and then looking at what we are doing, again and again. This requires a team effort. Cleaning products are now more efficient, as is the equipment we use, so we can be more efficient in the way we use water.

We are dependent on the person who is carrying out the cleaning to control how much water resource is used. Sustainability has already improved dramatically in recent times, but water use is one of the world’s greatest challenges.

Look out for the next ‘Just Saying’ piece where we will visit other aspects of sustainability including cleaning products, equipment and the benefits associated with the use of bamboo.

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