9 tips for reducing plastic waste



9 suggestions for cutting down on plastic waste in your vacation rental

Globally, we produce 400 million tonnes of plastic waste every year. That’s more than one thousand Empire State Buildings’ worth of waste, in just a single year. Only 10 percent of this plastic is recycled, meaning that most goes on to threaten our marine life and pollute our landscapes.

When guests stay in your short-term rental, they’re visiting more than just your property. They’re soaking in everything your area has to offer. With plastic littering our urban streets and choking our beaches, plastic pollution will tarnish your guest’s experience no matter where your rental property is set.

As short-term rental owners and property managers, we have the power (and the responsibility) to reduce the use of plastic in our industry. Beyond changing our own behaviours, we can also influence our guests’ behaviour. Collectively limiting our use of plastic will result in:

  • Cleaner environments
  • Happier guests
  • More efficient spending

If you’re interested in seeing any of the above in your rental business, read on to discover the nine top ways to reduce plastic use in your property.

1. Ditch the single use plastic water bottles 

Travellers are often unsure about how safe it is to drink tap water in unfamiliar destinations, and therefore choose to buy bottled water. If the tap water in your region is safe to drink, this is an entirely unnecessary addition to your guests’ plastic footprint (not to mention their holiday spending!).

Encourage your visitors to ditch the single-use plastic bottles by providing:

Remember to ensure that your guests know that the tap water is perfectly safe to drink.


2. Opt for refillable toiletry and cleaning products

Ditch the single-use bottles and hotel-style mini shampoo. Replace them with refillable containers, and then buy the products themselves in bulk. Over time, this will save you money and massively reduce single-use plastic in your business.

If you’re based in the UK and shifting to refillable containers for the first time (as so many of us are), why not give Splosh a go? They supply everything from conditioner to floor cleaner in the form of concentrated refills. You can even return the refill pouches for Splosh to reuse them. With this method, Splosh is cutting plastic waste by 90-100 percent.

Alternatively, EcoVibe offers a wide range of eco-friendly, plastic-free cleaning products. They supply wholesale, meaning that you could save even more by registering for a trade account. If you’re based in the US, check out Blueland. They’re a certified B-Corp providing plastic-free cleaning and self-care essentials.

And they’re not the only ones! Listen to The Green Podcast to hear how BioDrops are innovating to reduce plastic waste in our toiletries.

3. Eliminate single use plastic items from your property

Switching to reusable water bottles, toiletries, and cleaning products will go a long way to removing single-use plastic from your properties. However, we have so many uses for plastic that in 21st-century life, it’s almost inescapable. So, we can guarantee that there’ll be other corners where it’s hiding.

There’s no expectation that you remove every source of single-use plastic overnight, but you can start to look out for ways to banish it from your rental property. For example, it might be hiding in plain sight in your:

  • Cling film
  • Bin bags
  • Disposable cutlery
  • Food packaging
  • Cleaning equipment

Start to source reusable, compostable, and/or non-plastic alternatives for these products, and you’ll quickly cut down your plastic footprint.

4. Install a microplastic filter in your washing machine

Microplastics are particles of plastic so small that we often can’t even see them. Once they reach the ocean, they can be ingested by marine life and become embedded in food chains. Many of these microplastics are toxic, and therefore pose a deadly threat to any animal who ingests or inhales them.

Our clothes often release microplastics when we put them in the washing machine. From here, water carries them to our rivers, and eventually to our oceans. A microplastic filter removes these microplastics from your washing machine before they can make it into our water cycle.

To find out more, check out Sustonica’s recommendations for eco-friendly rental technologies.

5. Upcycle vintage furnishings when decorating your vacation rental

A big factor in our struggle with waste reduction is that we’re always buying new things. A lot of these products contain plastic, and even arrive in plastic packaging.

There’s certainly something to be said for shiny and new, especially when you’re decorating a vacation rental! Your guests don’t want to stay in a property that feels dusty and neglected. However, there are ways of making your short-term rental feel cosy and cared-for that don’t require you to buy everything brand new:

  • Investigate vintage and charity shops in your local area
  • Upcycle old furniture and decor when it starts to look a little tired
  • Check out garage sales to find hidden gems
  • Work with local craftspeople to create something unique

Each of these tactics significantly reduces the volume of new plastic that we’re injecting into the world. They also help you to:

  • save money – you’ll often find bargains in charity stores and at car boot sales.
  • showcase your personal touch – you’ll find products and designs that no other vacation rental has, helping you to stick in your guests’ minds.
  • reduce packaging and transport emissions – buying locally means your products travel a shorter distance to reach you.
  • contribute to your local economy – working with local business benefits your community.

6. Involve guests in your campaign against single-use plastic

A lot of the plastic waste associated with your vacation rental will actually be produced by your guests. This is where strong guest communications serve you well. Prompt guests to think about their plastic choices, and show them how a few simple switches can drastically reduce the plastic footprint of their holiday.

Tell visitors about the changes you’ve made and how they can do their bit to make those changes effective. For example, if you’ve provided a water filter so that they don’t need to buy disposable bottles, make sure you let them know!

Discover how Touch Stay is helping short-term rental operators to involve guests in their green action.

You might communicate this information via your:

  • Emails
  • Digital guidebook
  • House manual
  • Friendly signage
  • Social media

7. Give your guests the plastic-free tools they need

When it comes to environmental action, we often report a willingness to change our behaviour, but never actually follow through. We might enjoy the idea of ditching the disposable coffee containers, but we never get around to buying a KeepCup. 

Help your guests to overcome this barrier by supplying them with the plastic-free tools they need. Gift them a branded:

  • reusable shopping bag
  • refillable water bottle
  • KeepCup
  • steel/glass/bamboo food container for bulk buying dry goods
  • beeswax wrap
  • glass jar for fridge storage
  • reusable produce bag
  • any other reusable alternative that you think they’ll find genuinely useful!

Any one of these gifts encourages your guests to adopt less wasteful habits during their visit and when they return home. Whenever they fill their shopping bag or drink from their bottle, they’ll think of the short-term rental operator who cared enough to act on their green instincts.

8. Support zero mile food shopping

A sizable portion of your guests’ plastic footprint will likely stem from their food shopping. You can help to limit this waste by providing the essentials, such as oil, salt, and pepper.

It’s often difficult to avoid plastic waste entirely when shopping in large supermarkets. So, send your guests to smaller, independent grocery stores (bonus if the shop already has a zero waste section!). Provide visitors with containers and bags which they can use to fill up on the staples they need.

If you have a vegetable patch and green fingers, you could even grow your own produce and invite guests to help themselves. That really is zero mile food shopping!

9. Make recycling single use plastic the easy option

Unfortunately, some plastic waste might remain unavoidable for now. Until we change our systems of production to remove our dependence on plastic, the best we can do is to reduce as much as possible, and ensure that we properly recycle.

You can help your guests to do this by clearly labelling recycling bins to illustrate the proper way to separate plastic recycling. Recycling processes differ between local areas, so make sure to include a section in your house manual or digital guidebook which explains the recycling guidance in your neighbourhood.

See the benefits unfold for your short-term rental business

Reducing plastic in short-term rentals doesn’t just benefit the planet, it also benefits your business. As you reduce your dependence on single-use plastic, you’ll start to see:

  • wider marketing opportunities as increasing numbers of travellers opt for eco-friendly accommodation
  • fewer costs associated with repeatedly buying single-use plastic products
  • the continued health of the oceans and landscapes which attract so many visitors

And that doesn’t have to be all! The more sustainability action you take, the more business advantages you’ll see. From saving money on your energy bills, to welcoming back more repeat guests, the possibilities are endless.


Discover the advantages of sustainability for your vacation rental with EnviroRental

Our mission at EnviroRental is to make sustainability easy and accessible for all short-term rental operators. We’ve curated a bank of free resources – from webinars and case studies, to blog articles and data analysis – to help you start (or continue!) your sustainability journey.

The star of the show is our Sustainability Roadmap, which walks you through twelve concrete, actionable steps for meaningfully greening your vacation rental business. If you want to see the business benefits of sustainability, but you’re not entirely sure which step to take next, this is the perfect place for you to start.

 Access EnviroRental’s free green resources

Explore More EnviroRental Resources