Jill Zarin: Get educated on green design | HotelWorld Network.

August 17, 2009
By Jill Zarin
Hotel Design

There is something I would like to share with you that you may not know about me: I am a huge advocate of eco-friendly living. I didn’t just turn green overnight though, it was with the help of my daughter, Ally, a leading teen green activist and board member of Teens Turning Green, an eco-friendly non-profit. Ally educated me on the statistics of global warming and the importance of ensuring that future generations can enjoy our beautiful planet.

When one thinks of ways to save the planet, green fabric is not something that immediately comes to mind. It may even come as a surprise to some that there is a thriving business emerging in textiles that are produced to be eco-friendly.

In my last column, I discussed reupholstering as an inexpensive and effective design tip. When considering freshening up your fabrics, why not go green? There are many exciting eco-friendly textile products on the market and several different criteria go into making what can be called an eco-friendly textile. When shopping for green fabrics, the seven basic questions you should ask are:

  1. Is it recyclable?
  2. Is it made of recyclable materials?
  3. Is it easily biodegradable?
  4. Is it produced using green manufacturing processes without harmful chemical byproducts?
  5. Does it follow McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry’s cradle-to-cradle principles?
  6. Does the finished product’s off-gas harmful chemicals have a negative effect on indoor air quality?
  7. Does the manufacturer have a company-wide sustainability policy?

For example, furniture manufacturer Knoll has the reputation for being fairly eco-savvy—and these principles also are followed in its textile division, Knoll Textiles. Abacus upholstery for both furniture and panels looks like virgin wool, but is actually woven from 100-percent recycled polyester sourced from both post-consumer (soda bottles) and post-industrial materials (production scraps).

The company’s environmental policy is also nothing to sneeze at: It is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative Energy & Climate Change Working Group and has trimmed carbon dioxide emissions by more than 10 percent since 2006, with an investment of more than $2 million.

Eco-friendly fabrics are only one area of the green marketplace; your hotel can get in on the green action in many other simple and cost-effective ways. EcoHangers, for example, can replace wire, wooden and plastic hangers and are very durable, crafted from 100-percent recycled paper and recycled plastic. Another eco-savvy way to save the planet is to provide guests with organic, nontoxic green toiletries.

Going green has proven to be a win-win solution for many hotel chains around the world. You are able to provide guests with quality products and innovative solutions while participating in the worldwide effort to save our planet. In addition, the positive publicity that results in becoming more eco-friendly can attract forward-thinking travelers and spark the curiosity of those interested in going green.