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Go Green at the ISSA Show

Make sustainable choices in the hotel, on the road, and at the convention center

sustainability, environmental

Once again, people will be descending on Las Vegas from around the globe for the annual ISSA Show North America. As always, the event will include educational sessions, meetings between vendors and buyers, introductions of new products and programs, parties, and just plain fun. 

However, an event this large can leave a large environmental footprint. With some planning and a little bit of effort, we can all do our part to lower our environmental impact while attending the ISSA Show or other large events.  

Greening your hotel stay

When leaving your hotel room, turn the thermostat down so the heater isn’t running and open the blinds so the sun can heat the room. If it’s an uncharacteristically hot November day and you have the air conditioning on, turn the thermostat up so the air conditioning won’t run constantly and close the blinds so the room stays cool. It will only take 15 minutes or so upon returning to get the room to a comfortable sleeping temperature and there is no need to waste energy while the room is unoccupied.

Also take a few seconds to make sure all electrical devices are turned off before you leave your room for the day. Turn off all lights, televisions, radios, laptop computers, battery chargers, and other devices that consume electricity.

Check that you’ve hung up the towels on the racks, because if you leave them on the floor or in the bathtub, they’ll automatically get washed. Hotels use approximately 25 gallons of water per day, per room for laundry operations, along with energy to heat the water and to dry towels and linens. As Las Vegas is in the desert, water conservation is a concern. Using towels and linens more than one day conserves both water and energy.

Make sure to turn off all faucets, including those in the sink, shower, and bathtub. If a faucet drips just one drop every second, it would waste over eight gallons of water each day, according to the American Water Works Association. While this may not sound like a lot, with show attendees occupying thousands of rooms, it can quickly add up. If a persistent drip requires a plumber, take a moment to call the front desk personnel and let them know. The sooner they fix it, the less water will be wasted.

Finally, please consider leaving a gratuity for the housekeeping staff along with a note thanking them for keeping the room clean and healthy. Afterall, we represent the best of the cleaning industry and if we aren’t willing to support housekeepers, who will? 

Greening your meals

Las Vegas is a great food town. When going out to eat and drink, consider a locally owned establishment where the profits are more likely to help the community. Check the menus for local options in meats and produce, as well as beers, liquors, and other beverages. Supporting local businesses is good for our communities and can be a fun experience. 

Make wise meat choices. Raising cows requires at least 10 times more resources than chicken, poultry, dairy, or pork. Chicken, dairy, and poultry are relatively similar in their “environmental burden,” according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But the study found beef requires 28 times more land, six times more fertilizer, and 11 times more water compared to those other food sources and produces up to about five times more greenhouse gas emissions. Your menu selection really does make a difference.

Even though you may feel like you’re on vacation, don’t forget to eat your veggies and skip the fried foods for healthier preparations. You may find that you really enjoy other options and there are plenty of them in Las Vegas. If you have never tried one of the new meatless options, give them a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how indistinguishable they are from beef with a much lower environmental footprint. Plus, our farmers appreciate it.

Don’t order more food than you can finish. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that as much as 40% of the food produced in the U.S. is wasted, representing approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food. While this amount includes losses on the farm, along with losses occurring during processing, packaging, and transportation, a significant portion of it (and the portion we can control) is what we take and don’t eat. Enjoy the dinners and parties but be conscientious about what you take. Hopefully the restaurants and hotels are donating untouched meals to food pantries.

Greening your show experience

 Rather than taking paper handouts or brochures from businesses and people you meet at the ISSA Show, ask them to email you the information. Marketing handouts have significant environmental impacts, even if they are printed on sustainably harvested paper using green printing processes. 

When you visit exhibitors, ask what they are doing to be more sustainable. Many companies in the cleaning industry are doing great things relative to sustainability and welcome the chance to talk about their actions. If you are an exhibitor, be prepared to talk about what your company is doing. The mere act of talking about sustainability sends a clear message that the cleaning industry cares and, more importantly, is making great strides toward reducing unnecessary waste and becoming a more sustainable industry.

 Carrying a refillable water bottle is a must at trade shows. Not only will you avoid using plastic water bottles, many of which end up in landfills instead of being recycled, you will save money as water, sodas, and other drinks can be expensive on the tradeshow floor.

When given the choice between washable and reusable plates, cups, forks, etc. versus disposable alternatives, choose the reusable option. While washing these items consumes water, energy, and chemicals, it has less of an environmental effect than manufacturing the disposable or even compostable options.

Greening your transportation

 Get some exercise by walking to the show, especially if your hotel is close to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.  Not only is walking better for your health and the environment, it will eliminate waiting in lines for buses, cabs, and Ubers and it will save you money.

If you do take an automobile—whether driving your own vehicle or taking a cab, Uber, Lift, etc.—share the ride with others.  If you were already prepared to pay for the ride, adding another passenger won’t add to the cost. But it will distribute the environmental impacts across all passengers.  And this unexpected act of kindness will surely put a smile on someone’s face.

For those who really want to minimize or completely offset the carbon associated with traveling and hotel stays, consider purchasing carbon offsets which are offered by numerous airlines and travel sites. The money typically goes to planting trees or other habitat restoration projects. Newly developed offsets are providing money to local projects which offer a component of social justice, in addition to the environmental benefits. You can contribute to one of my favorite carbon offsets, the National Indian Carbon Coalition (NICC), by clicking here. The NICC  is a nonprofit program that helps tribal nations and individual Indian landowners develop carbon credits and enter environmental commodities markets through the creation of carbon sequestration projects.

 

Stephen P. Ashkin

President, The Ashkin Group

Stephen P. Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, a consulting firm specializing in green cleaning and sustainability. He can be reached at [email protected].

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