Saving the environment also means saving money
LUNENBURG - A move towards "going green" by members of Lunenburg's hospitality industry will not only be beneficial for the environment, but it can also save considerable dollars for business operators in the town.
That is the message presented to members of the Lunenburg Board of Trade during a recent luncheon held at the Rum Runner Restaurant.
The gathering was part of the Green Business Network, a co-operative effort between the board, the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour and Environment Canada that seeks to make Lunenburg a model community for water conservation and pollution prevention.
Guest speakers at the event were Jennifer Sipkins of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia and Earlene Busch, owner of the Chantrelle Country Inn located in Cape Breton.
Ms Busch opened her business when she moved to Canada from Colorado a few years ago, and has since concentrated on becoming an "eco-friendly" establishment that caters to environmentally conscious travellers.
"Developing environmental practices was easier than I thought it would be," Ms Busch said. "The transition isn't anywhere as difficult as you might think."
Recycling is part of her green program, but the purchase and use of organic products, even though they may cost a little more, is even more important.
"You have to be willing to pay those few extra cents … and you have to be willing to put up with a little extra mess," she explained.
Her environmental program consists of such things as the reusing of towels by guests, strict controls on the use of chlorine and minimal purchases of canned foods.
She also uses all organic soaps, cleaners and cooking oils, as well as shampoo which is placed in a pump dispenser in the bathroom in lieu of using single usage, non-refillable packaging.
They are all part of a practice Ms Busch dubs "pre-cycle" which saves on energy by limiting the use of containers which require recycling.
Jennifer Sipkins, left, of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia and Earlene Busch, owner of Chantrelle Country Inn in Cape Breton, recently addressed a Lunenburg Board of Trade business luncheon on the financial benefits of "going green." Robert Hirtle photo
She also purchases as much produce as possible from local growers who utilize organic farming methods, a practice that has become very popular with her guests.
"That way, when somebody sits down to dinner I can tell them absolutely where their food comes from," she explained.
Ms Busch has found that many clients are booking stays at the inn simply because of its environmental friendliness.
"The pay offs, from a business sense, are beginning to be significant," she said. "People are booking for six and seven days at a time, which we never had before … because of the organics."
In her address Ms Sipkins said the typical overnight guest generates one to two pounds of waste on a non-check out day, which doubles on a check out day.
"Eighty per cent of that is recyclable," she said. "It causes you to think about how much stuff you're throwing out in the garbage and how much money you can save."
She also believes the implementation of energy and water saving techniques will increase the profitability of a business.
"We really need to hammer that into our heads," she said, pointing out that the savings realized go right to the business's bottom line.
"It's profit," she said. "So I think we need to think about saving the environment, but also growing your business in that way."
Ms Sipkins feels that businesses in the hospitality industry will also have better marketability if they promote themselves as being green.
"People want to stay in accommodations that reflect their own values," she explained. "People will choose your accommodation over somebody who is not doing that."
Ms Sipkins is also associated with the Sustainable Tourism Association of Canada which is developing a certification program for the hospitality industry based on environmental, economic and social or community criteria.
"The standard will be Canada wide," she said. "There's regional programs right now for eco-tourism in Quebec and Saskatchewan, and we want to go national."
She said that such a rating system, however, could be difficult to obtain.
"It's really hard to find a balance considering the geography and scope of Canada, to get all companies on an even keel regardless of their revenues or their locations," she said.
|June 18, 2003|
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