The water footprint of your wasted fruit

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Hotels spend months thinking of new "green" initiatives while failing to acknowledge the low-hanging fruit right before their eyes. In addition to green training, hotels should consider changing amenity policies that not only send a message, but can make a big difference.

Who eats the fruit basket?

I'd love to know how many guests actually eat the fruit. Better yet, I'd like to know how many guests use the ice provided during turndown service. These amenities and services are things we've always offered in top-tier and luxury properties, but are they being consumed? If so, fantastic. But if they aren't, there's an incredible amount of money, food, energy and water being wasted here (unless your hotel actually reuses the fruit).

I'll let you do the math yourselves, but first you'll have to get an idea of how much fruit you provide per year and then determine the approximate percentage of guests who don't eat it. As for ice, you might want to evaluate your minibar sales. If your hard liquor sales are amazing, chances are some guests might use the ice for mixed drinks or the odd drink on the rocks. But the average guest won't use ice for the already-cooled soda, beer or juice. Don't forget to also consider the amount of time spent for housekeeping to prepare and clear these unused amenities.

What's a better alternative to the Fruit Basket? 

Why not offer complimentary fruit plates and ice on request? The benefits would be obvious:

  • You can customize the amenities for guests on request.
  • There's the added service element.
  • Guests perceive the fruit and ice as being fresh. (Otherwise, how long has the fruit been sitting there, and is that ice bucket clean?!?)
  • You save money and reduce food, water and energy waste.

The complimentary apple vs. low-flow showerhead vs. dual flush toilet

In the grand scheme of things, taking that uneaten apple out of your fruit basket will save more water than switching to low-flow showerheads, and far more than switching to a dual flush toilet. Why? Well, simple math says a low-flow shower head can save approximately 17 gallons (65 liters) of water per 10-minute shower. An efficient toilet saves 2.2 gallons (8.4 liters) of water per flush.

But have you ever considered the amount of water that goes into the production and distribution of a single apple? Well, it's 33 gallons (125 liters) of water for that single apple. Now consider the fact that your fruit basket has more than just one apple.

Here are some figures to think about:

  • A 10-minute shower uses approximately 17.5 gallons (65 liters) of water.
  • A new toilet uses approximately 1.28 gallons (4.8 liters) of water per flush.
  • An orange takes approximately 21 gallons (80 liters) of water to produce.
  • A banana takes approximately 42 gallons (160 liters) of water to produce.
  • An apple takes approximately 33 gallons (125 liters) of water to produce.

While your hotel isn't actually paying for the water to produce your fruit baskets, think about the other supply-side benefits associated with reducing your hotel's potential food waste. If you want to find out more about how much water is used to produce your wasted fruit baskets, visit waterfootprint.org.

Read more and see comments at: HOTELSMag.com


Craft House Founder and Director, Yvette Jong, contributes regularly to her HOTELS Magazine Blog titled, "The Good, the Bad and the Funky." Topics of discussion include all aspects of hospitality development, operations, branding, marketing, human resources, sustainability and much more.