Waves Not Ripples Made By Sustainable Hotel

Welcome back to well-being, Unikorn readers! This is where people are inspired by the positive impacts of others. In this section of the site, I get to talk about anything from personal wellness to changes in education policy, world news or technological innovation. Well-being seems, at least to me, concerned with both the self and the external.

Last week, we looked at two possible solutions for water and food scarcity in the future. Now we’re going to look at a hotel and resort business committed to improving its practices: Iberostar.

Truth be told, when hotel resort is heard, most minds go to the wasteful or excessive although I didn’t have that experience at the Iberostar Paraíso Lindo in Riviera Maya, Mexico. I stayed for one week by the gracious, gilded hands of my grandparents.

I was surprised to find nothing much at all that was wasteful or genuinely excessive about the destination. There’s a couple surprisingly-responsible measures, as a matter of fact. I soon discovered that the chain of resorts had set milestone goals for becoming more responsible, especially as these coastal resorts are essentially to blame for bringing sunscreened snorkel-tourists to the world’s second-largest coral reef— off the coast of Riviera Maya— and bringing irreversible damage to it.

An initiative called the Wave Of Change was launched to meet the dire circumstances of the larger anthropogenically-induced global climate change and of the degradation happening locally. On its website, Iberostar says it aims to improve the health and protection of its community’s ecosystem. By 2025, they are supposed to be fully waste free and, by 2030, completely carbon neutral.

Iberostar’s green initiative.

I was a bit hesitant to believe all of these promises at first, but I can already see changes being made. The hotel chain already met its goal of using no single-use plastic last year. The Lindo, where I stayed, had implemented this policy.

For starters, drinking water only comes from refill stations tucked in the corners of each hallway. The room fridges don’t offer any bottled water either; only canned sodas and dos Dos Equis are provided. This all sounds somewhat commonplace; these aren’t things you’d write the folks at home about, but it’s locally sourced too— which is a very conscientious decision.

Through a five-stage nanofiltration process, the water is made drinkable right in the immediate area. This matters because, when it comes to the overall carbon footprint of a product, one must factor in the fuel consumed to transport it. Invisible costs are everywhere, and our luck is being pressed every time petroleum is used to airlift water and food across continents.

In the bathroom and by the shower, an array of shower gels, in sizable squeeze bottles, are mounted on the wall. It appears that the gel bottles can be refilled and then easily snapped back into their respective mounts. This is yet another indicator of conscientious leadership. The absence of single-use bottles, whether for water or shower gel, greatly reduces plastic consumption. You love to see it. Because the management made this change, thousands of guests will barely create any garbage.

The resort is in some way connected to the Carbonfund.org Foundation, a nonprofit which recognizes the impossibility of reaching net zero. Instead, they believe that strides can be made by a sensible combination of reducing energy consumption and offsetting one’s carbon footprint. Nobody can erase one’s entire footprint in an instant, and it’s much more difficult for an organization. I would find it difficult to believe that Iberostar isn’t making a genuine effort.

With the aspects I described above, it seems Iberostar has taken that step towards offsetting their carbon footprint. They took another step toward reducing energy consumption too.

Iberostar smartly cuts energy usage. Management has installed A/C systems, which only activate if the front and balcony doors are shut. Not only that, but it will only activate upon entry when it recognizes the keycard. An employee named Marcus also mentioned that pool fountains will turn off when there aren’t many guests around.

Marcus has worked at the Lindo for six years and noted their transition to being fully paperless in 2019. Golf carts, which are used to transport guests or for the employees to do their different jobs, are fully electric as well.

The company is also concerned about acquiring its seafood from ethical sources. This means doing business with local fisheries and aquaponics whose chain of custody for whatever they catch is verifiable. To obtain only fully-responsible seafood by 2025, Iberostar also increased their percentage of responsibly-sourced species to 45% in 2020 and doubled the amount of certified restaurants from seven to fourteen in the same year.

World economies will have a harder time getting by with an extraction-based or take-and-make-waste cycle, as consumers look to support more responsible organizations. The million-dollar idea is the creation of circular, rather than linear, product life cycles.

Check out these decorative fixtures in one of the on-premises restaurants. Notice anything peculiar about them? They are, in fact, made of recovered ocean debris.
I also caught the tail end of a children’s program at the auditorium, during which actors in animal costumes learned why materials should be reused. The characters in the show explained to the audience that they should be conscious of the environment before accepting disposable shopping bags and try to create habits like recycling plastics.

At the end of the day, an individual’s power is intrinsically important. Nonetheless, corporations have the most responsibility in healing the planet. They’re especially responsible when they have a direct effect on the ecology.

It does give me hope to see how much one tourism company is doing, especially one that operates near an irreplaceable coral reef.

Justin Capra
Student journalist from New Jersey. Enjoyer of breakfast foods. Covering all things on Unikorn but mostly well-being.

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