How to adopt sustainable consumption in your short-term rental



Steps towards more sustainable consumption 

What we can learn from Earth Overshoot Day 

This year, Earth Overshoot Day falls on 2nd August. This means that we’ve now used more ecological resources than the Earth can replenish within the year. From now on, we’re in debt.

Earth Overshoot Day is also calculated at national level: if everyone in the world consumed in the same way as each country’s population, when would we overshoot? You can view each nation’s overshoot day to get an idea of how your country compares to the global average.

If we want our vacation rental businesses to continue to thrive, we need to make sure that they’re operating within our planet’s means. The key way to do this – as individuals, communities, and short-term rental operators – is to consume less and consume responsibly. 

The good news is that transitioning to responsible consumption doesn’t need to be difficult, and it definitely doesn’t need to impact your profits. In fact, with 80% of travellers expressing that green travel is important to them, sustainable consumption is a business advantage.

If you’re interested in reducing your consumption whilst continuing to improve your guest experience offering, you’re in the right spot. Let’s dive into the meaning of Earth Overshoot Day for your short-term rental business.

7 ways to adopt responsible consumption in your vacation rental business

It’s true that many solutions to our consumption habits need to happen at state level (see below for more on this!), but this doesn’t mean that we’re powerless as individuals. You have the ability to change how your vacation rental business consumes. Whether you manage one rental property, or one thousand, you can make a difference.

Read on to discover practical examples of sustainable consumption habits. Follow these, and you’ll be the definition of a responsible consumer in no time at all.

1. Opt for sustainable toiletries and cleaning products

Toiletries and cleaning products are two categories of goods that you’re likely to buy regularly for your short-term rental property. Purchasing these products in a responsible manner could drastically reduce your business’s overconsumption and wider environmental impact.

Start to think about:

  • Plastic content – toiletries and cleaning products often arrive in plastic packaging which goes on to pollute our waterways and beaches. Opt for products which minimise their packaging and use biodegradable materials instead.
  • Bulk buying – refilling reusable containers from one bulk order further reduces your packaging waste. As a bonus, it’s often cheaper than buying individual bottles!
  • Concentrated/Dehydrated products – these are much lighter to transport, and so reduce the carbon emissions associated with delivering products to your property.
  • Ethical certifications – look to see if your preferred products display labels declaring that they’ve achieved a recognised ethical or environmental standard, such as being certified organic or vegan.

There are an increasing number of brands that are making it easy to purchase zero waste toiletries and green cleaning products. Check out our blog on reducing your plastic waste to find out more.

2. Choose sustainable vacation rental suppliers

Whether you’re buying laundry detergent or bed linens, your purchasing choices have power. Choosing to support ethical, sustainable brands reduces your business’s ecological footprint and funds ethical practices.

We’re bombarded by greenwashing nowadays, and it can be tricky to determine which organisations are making meaningful changes. Be cautious around any brand that claims to be eco-friendly but doesn’t back itself up in any way.

At the very least, brands should be talking about the precise action they’re taking to minimise their environmental impact, and what their plan is to continue doing so. Ideally, they’ll have undergone third-party certifications which mark them as:

  • Organic
  • Vegan
  • Kind to animals
  • Nature-friendly

You can find a list of recognised certifications in Step 6 of the EnviroRental Sustainability Roadmap.

Learn more with Avantio’s sustainability course

Avantio, one of our Founding Partners, has crafted an informative email course covering five realistic, actionable steps to make your vacation rental more sustainable. Step 5 focuses specifically on choosing ethical partners for your short-term rental business. Sign up today to get sustainability tips delivered straight to your inbox.

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3. Eliminate unnecessary guest gifts

Providing a welcome gift for your guests adds a lovely personal touch to their stay. However, if this gift doesn’t serve any practical use, it can end up as more unnecessary waste. 

The best approach is to ensure that your welcome gifts are:

  • Useful
  • Reusable or edible
  • Light on packaging

Ditch the plastic-wrapped hampers and mini toiletries. Instead, opt for a sturdy reusable shopping bag that guests can use during (and after!) their stay. How about artisan soap from a local supplier, or a generous bottle of wine from a nearby vineyard?

You can source all of these gifts with little to no waste, and guests will actively benefit from them during their stay.

4. Shop local 

Sourcing from independent, local suppliers will significantly reduce the air and road miles associated with your business. In addition, you can contact small, independent businesses more easily to ensure that they have a responsible supply chain.

It’s true that independent suppliers are likely to have slightly higher prices than big brands. This is often precisely because they operate in a more sustainable way. Larger corporations often achieve the low prices to which we’re accustomed through exploitative labour practices and a wasteful use of resources.

You’ll see a return on your investment through stronger relationships with local businesses in your community. What’s more, these products add a unique identity to your property which will help it to stick in guests’ minds. They’ll remember you as the rental business with character, that cares about the environment and its local community.

Read about how Les Chauvins has combined these tactics to reduce their consumption.


5. Reduce your property’s food waste 

Every year, one-third of food produced for human consumption is wasted. That’s 1.3 billion tonnes of food that never makes it to our tables. Producing this food requires a huge volume of natural resources, including fossil fuels.

Even as we use up our natural resources to produce this food, 2.3 billion people around the world are moderately or severely affected by food insecurity. The food is available, it’s simply not getting to the right places.

So, it’s vital that we reduce our food waste whilst fairly redistributing the food we have so that everyone has access to a nutritious, filling diet. You can play your part in this mission by practising responsible food consumption within your vacation rental property. This calls for:

  • Donating unused food – give your guests the opportunity to donate any food left over at the end of their stay. You could partner with a local food bank, or (if you’re in the US) check out the Little Free Pantry movement.
  • Composting food waste – return all those nutrients to the soil by encouraging guests to dispose of their food waste in a compost bin. You can either add this to your own compost heap, or use your local authority’s food recycling services.
  • Food containers – it can be tricky to prepare precisely the right amount of food at every meal. Help your guests out by providing glass or metal food containers which they can use to store leftovers for later.
  • Waste-free recipes – we often waste food because we find ourselves with leftover ingredients that we don’t know how to use. Why not provide some creative recipes to help your guests use up all the food they purchase?

These are simple solutions which will encourage your guests to adopt a more mindful attitude to their food waste, even whilst they’re on holiday!

6. Invest in clean energy 

We can’t talk about responsible consumption of resources without mentioning energy consumption. Our use of fossil fuels accounts for a significant portion of the non-renewable resources that we consume.

Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels is a complex issue, but we can’t shy away from it. The good news is that there’s one very easy thing you can do to get the ball rolling: switch to a renewable energy tariff. Take a look at this guide to find sustainable energy suppliers. 

If you’re further into your green journey, consider installing solar panels in your vacation rental. Keep an eye out for local incentives and grants.

Read our guide to creating a Climate Action Plan to understand how to create a realistic, effective programme for reducing your fossil fuel consumption.

7. Engage governments and corporations 

As we mentioned above, a lot of high level changes will need to come from governments and large corporations. One of the ways you can take action is by engaging with: 

  • your local and/or national government
  • industry associations and pressure groups
  • any big brands you patronise

Let’s take an example. One of Earth Overshoot Day’s key solutions focuses on cities. The issue of sustainable cities ties in closely to sustainable urban tourism, and the short-term accommodation which facilitates this tourism. 

Our sector is already a part of this conversation, with groups such as the ASSC (Scotland), the STAA (UK), and VRMA (US) engaging with policymakers to advocate for fair, sustainable regulations on short-term lets.

Join your local advocacy group to make your voice heard.

EnviroRental is here to support you

With our extensive bank of free sustainability tools, EnviroRental is your go-to resource to start (or continue!) your green journey. From informative blog articles and webinars, to handy carbon measurement guidance, we’ve got everything you need. 

The star of the show is the EnviroRental Sustainability Roadmap. This practical guide walks you through twelve actionable steps to meaningfully green your vacation rental business. Whatever stage you’re at, it will help you to find your next step towards sustainability, complete with background information, concrete strategies, and useful links.

Subscribe today, and stay at the cutting edge of guest expectations.

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