If you don’t consider the scarcity of water a huge issue for the citizens of this planet, you haven’t been paying attention. Water scarcity affects 2.7 billion people worldwide for at least a month a year and it is getting worse.
Are we in the hospitality industry paying attention?
Several recent examples of this have me wondering.
- During a stay in a drought-stricken, water-restricted town in Texas, the ice bucket in my room was filled every night without request. It is one of their guest services. I tried desperately for the three nights of my stay to get this “service” to stop, but was not successful.
- At a recent conference in California, the hotel caterer required all the water glasses were pre-filled. When the event coordinator pleaded to instead have just a pitcher of water and glasses on each table, she was told it was a “labor union policy.” It was not until this event coordinator elevated her request to the General Manager, citing Governor Brown’s recent Drought Emergency Act, that the practice was discontinued “for this event only.”
- Another hotel in a city facing water restrictions is clinging to the idea that all of their guests need their sheets changed (and washed) every single day without giving guests the chance to opt out of the program.
Again, are we paying attention? Can our industry be part of the solution and not part of the problem?
As meeting professionals, both planners and suppliers, we have an enormous opportunity to make an impact just by making more responsible choices, to be aware of the consequences of our requests on the communities where our events are held. Most of these choices are the low-hanging fruit of water conservation.
The “higher-hanging fruit” food and beverages choices will be next. Here are some examples of the water footprint of commonly ordered products to think about.
- 1 gallon of wine requires 1,008 gallons of water
- 1 gallon of coffee requires 880 gallons of water
- 1 gallon of tea requires 128 gallons of water
And if that doesn’t hit where it hurts, how about
- 1 lb. of chocolate requires 3,170 gallons of water
We talk a lot about how mighty the travel/meeting industry is and about our buying power. Let’s put it to good use for the fellow citizens of this planet!