Human society has, in the past three centuries, gone through drastic changes in a brief period. The world we currently live in is a direct result of civilization resulting from the Industrial Revolution that changed the manner in which economic affairs were carried out. Enterprising persons in society ceased this opportunity by focusing on mass production to widen their margin of profit in true capitalistic fashion. While outliers with tools for mass production made their gains, it was soon apparent that all this came with a hidden cost that many had been oblivious to for the longest to time. Continued human activity was having a detrimental effect on the environment with the main culprit being industrial endeavors. Even worse, these environmental changes were irreversible and a direct threat to the existence of the human species. It was at this particular point that major players in various industries took an immediate interest in being precarious about the issue while avoiding exacerbating it further. These environmental concerns led to a nascent sustainability approach that espoused exploiting the environment while still protecting it for future generations (Hall, 2015, p. 12). In using this approach, the harmful effects that industries had on the environment could therefore be considerably slowed down, avoiding an inevitable catastrophic end. Caught up in this whirlwind of change was the tourism and hospitality industry that has, over the past five decade; been known for its intensive use of resources that generate a lot of waste. Scientific evidence on the phenomenon revealed that the use of water and energy in this particular manner had adverse effects on the environment. Moreover, the resultant ripple effect would impact these establishments in a negative way, which is why it was in the hospitality industry’s best interest to embrace this new mode of operation. The purpose of this research paper is to provide an analytical look into the evolution of this trend, its impact and ramifications to the industry.
An Analysis of the Evolution of Green Practices in Hospitality
The term “green practices” is now in vogue in the hospitality industry and invoked by a large majority of its key players. There is no doubt that the originators of this term had the environment on their minds and, specifically, ensuring that it retained its pristine nature. It also refers to the cultural heritage of these areas and acts that are carried out to ensure that they are preserved. Sustainable tourism was the first approach applied to this effect that was aimed at transforming the attitudes of those at the center of such activities with long term objectives taking precedence. The hospitality industry, therefore, embarked on a bold campaign that was aimed at ensuring that holiday experiences are conducted in a manner that was friendly to the environment, preserving it at moment. It was quite evident that the industry relied heavily on the environment with its destruction being directly linked to substantial losses that would be made in the industry. Top players in the industry were acutely aware of this fact and the primary reason why they saw it fit to embrace this paradigm shift. The benefits that would accrue from embracing these changes were viewed in positive light, especially considering that it would be responsible for lengthening an establishment’s shelf life. It is also vital to acknowledge that the practice initially focused on hospitality establishments alone before embracing changes that now involved tourists and local communities living around the said localities. Expanding this scope was meant to ensure that there was active participation in all those who were touched in one way or the other by activities related to hospitality. Creating a collective consciousness in those playing major roles in the industry became the industry’s objective that would ensure that everyone would be directly involved. It is this sense of ownership by all stakeholders that eventually led to the morphing of green practices in the hospitality industry as we presently know them.
Green tourism is best known among practices employed in this industry and was also the first to emerge. Experts in this field wanted to focus their energies on low-impact tourism while simultaneously preserving the environment. Although first viewed as a bizarre and overzealous approach, the idea has gained traction worldwide and for obvious reasons. The world population has been increasing at an exponential rate and with it the number of tourists. An increase in the number of tourists is a reality that first came to the world’s attention in the 1980’s, at a period when it was quite apparent that the environment was having a tough time. An overflow of tourists in such areas meant that the natural landscape would soon be transformed in ways that initially seemed farfetched and unlikely to indigenous peoples of the land. A sudden disruption in the manner in which affairs were conducted in these areas was soon evident in the stress that the environment had to contend with. A feasible option to this debacle would be a total ban on such activities, efforts that would yield fruits almost immediately. These areas would be protected from any form of encroachment that was aimed at changing this as they were prior to such establishments being entrants. Nevertheless, these communities living in and around these areas were beneficiaries of this industry in addition to it supporting the local economy. It was for this reasons that adopting green practices was embraced to ostensibly get the better of two worlds. Tourists on holiday were increasingly being encouraged to learn more about the flora and fauna in areas that they had visited together with ensuing that the cultural heritage of the native people was preserved and protected at all cost. The institution of these practices came in the form of ecologically sound programs whose aim was to save energy and water through a reduction in consumption levels. Technical and organizational practices were therefore put on the spotlight since some of them were directly responsible owing to activities that were considered a danger to the environment. A steady move towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has recently become a pillar of green practices, minimizing pollution while systematically renewing natural resources.
Impacts and Ramifications of Green Practices
One of the immediate consequences of the implementation green practices was the sparing use of raw materials. From the onset, it had been abundantly clear to all those involved in these efforts that the waste generated after using water and energy was a major cause of environmental degradation. The hotel industry has been known to use a considerable amount of electricity in addition to using large amounts of fossil fuel which impacts the environment negatively (In Parsa, 2015). One of the impacts of green practices is that players in the hospitality industry have managed to reduce their energy consumption by using energy sources that are more efficient. The replacement of light bulbs with others that are more efficient is a popular move that aims at conserving energy in these establishments. A resultant effect of this change is policy is an immediate reduction in the amount of money spent on energy. Most hotels choose to invest this money into other projects that improve their standing with locals around such areas. It is this exchange that results in cooperation between the two parties where they both commit to working together to improve the state of the environment. Furthermore, this money is also used in conservation efforts around the establishment’s locality. The flora and fauna in the area can be logged by experts who would use it to further their conservation efforts. Tourists have also played an active role in these efforts by progressively learning about the intricacies of such practices and improving their awareness. The hospitality industry has also been on the frontline in reducing dependence on fossil fuels, settling on other sustainable options. The oil crisis in the early 1970’s upset global prices of this scare commodity wand was responsible for the dependence that soon followed. It is for this reason that the hospitality industry strives to make a difference by reducing its carbon footprint and, in effect, preserve the environment. Embracing green practices has therefore led to energy sustainability which is a major step, considering the significance it would have on global climate issues.
Greener practices have also been responsible for the prevention of pollution in the environment. Over the years, experts in environmental studies have made it their life’s work to point out areas that may be directly responsible for the deterioration of natural resources. An increase in the number of tourists and their permeation into unchartered territories has disturbed the natural balance that existed resulting in cases of environmental pollution. Emissions from the activities in these areas have been linked with green house gases that results in an increase in carbon in the atmosphere (Pyo, 2012). These gases are known for being a primary causative agent of global warming. Even though climate change deniers are skeptical of these changes, their effects are already evident across the globe. The melting of glaciers and polar icecaps is enough evidence to prove that it is a reality that we now have to contend with. The planet is now blanketed by a layer of carbon that has also been responsible for a rise in global temperatures. It is this steady rise that has resulted in the thawing experienced in the arctic region which also results in a rise in sea level. The hospitality industry is well aware of this reality and has made concerted efforts to help change this course and prevent further degradation of the environment. A rise in global temperatures may have a negative impact on the hospitality industry, especially since 39 % of these establishments at located in low lying coastal regions (Quoquab, Thurasamy, & Mohammad, 2018). Areas such as a Florida, Miami would be worst hit by these changes in sea level since most resorts are located in areas that are at risk of destruction. It is for this reason that resorts in the hospitality industry have resorted to management practices that would help curb the snowball effect that global warming would have. The use of renewable energy sources such as wind, run off and solar power have often been viewed as a step in the right direction. These innovative changes in the provision of energy for hotels are further bolstered by using control systems that are automated (computerized) as an assurance that their purpose is to preserve the environment by all means necessary.
A ramification of green practices in the hospitality industry has been a move towards biodiversity and improving the lives of indigenous people living in these areas. It goes without saying that most native societies have learnt to live in harmony with the environment. They have a deep reverence for it, making continued efforts to preserve it by any means possible. Native Americans, for instance, viewed the earth as their “Grandmother” who also provided for them. Tribes living in the North West prairies such as the Teton and Oglala Sioux believed that the environment provided all they required and viewed their country as perfect for them. Rivers flowed undefiled, providing them with water while the bison provided them with the food they required to lead a sustainable life (Reddy & Wilkes, 2015). It is this type of biodiversity and harmonious existence that the hospitality industry seeks to pursue in order to make its dream of sustainable eco-tourism. Eco-centric management has been linked with such changes especially considering that those at the helm of leadership are responsible for all activities taking place under their watch. The natural and social environments, therefore, become a major determining factor in making certain that the environment also retain its fidelity. Similarly, tourism uses a lot of resources to make the whole experience fulfilling for visitors during their continued stay. In past decade, concerns have been raised over the logging of forests, overfishing and the wanton exploitation of natural resources. The hospitality industry has been the main culprit in almost all cases, using these resources for the own benefits. Massive takings have been made from this type of exploitation, which is why they are also obligated to share a chunk of their profits with communities that border these areas (Webster, 2014). Building schools has proven a milestone for some of these communities, considering most of them had no access to formal education. They are therefore empowered to agitate for their rights while also coming up with innovative ways to promote biodiversity. Major hospitality chains have also been known to aid in the building of healthcare facilities that become useful assets to the communities living in these areas. They ultimately appreciate the much needed amenities that they receive from these establishments, which is often a motivational factor leading to cooperation.
In finality, green practices in the hospitality industry are a growing trend aimed at making certain that the environment is utilized in a sustainable manner. The singleness of purpose in this initiative was the fact that the environment was responsible for the gains they made, hence the need to protect it. Using the available resources wisely, reducing emissions and giving back to the community are all impacts of this approach, with all parties involved seeking to benefit from the interaction.