A beautiful garden… without pesticides. Tons of energy output… with 20% of it regenerated by solar panels. Plants in each room… that are real. Since 1997, Habitat Suites in Austin, TX, has been a recognized resort for environmentally conscious efforts. The hotel wasn’t built to be environmentally friendly, a fact that it touts. Employees feel that the hotel sets an example that “greening” a hotel after building it is indeed possible — Habitat started in the mid-’90s and has been an innovative green force to be reckoned with ever since. From ladybugs as natural replacements for pesky pesticides and a smoke-free environment by choice, to a waste management and recycle program, many of the efforts are considered innovative. From the saved energy to the lush garden, it is the emphasis on recycling everything from energy to office supplies that really stands out. Let’s take a closer look.

All-around recycling

It is easy for a resort to claim that a recycling bin counts as a program. But, at Habitat Suites, the suites, the community guesthouse and the offices are all a part of the bigger picture. The Waste Minimization and Recycling program focuses on recycling, reusing and conserving in all three areas. In the suites The most outstanding features include everything from eliminating individual packaging to reusing plastic containers for trash. Some highlights include:
  • 100% recycled bathroom and facial tissue and paper towels
  • Suite bathrooms use dispensers for personal care products to eliminate small, individual packaging.
  • Housekeeping collects recycling from each suite’s recycling container; guests need not separate types of recyclables to participate in this program.
  • Habitat Suites donates slightly used or soiled furnishings to nonprofit organizations rather than throwing them away.
  • The hotel has trash audits to ensure maximum recycling and attention to minimal packaging, effectively reducing waste by 30%.
  • Reuse of the same 5-gallon plastic containers for cleaning supplies. This saves 125,000 cubic yards of plastic annually.
In the guesthouse You won’t find disposable tableware or fried foods; plastic and oil are not factors in this eco-friendly common space. Some cool facts in the name of sustainability follow:
  • Eliminating individual packets of condiments, Styrofoam and plastic tableware
  • Cloth napkins are displayed in the dining room, and when that doesn’t work, the default is 100% recycled paper towels.
  • The hotel picks food vendors with minimal packaging and bulk selling options.
  • When a mop gets dirty, housekeeping doesn’t throw it out; they thoroughly clean the mop.
In the administrative offices Printing on two sides and sending emails — the solution sounds simple. Here are some more Habitat Suites staff practices that can be done at almost any office:
  • Team members reduce the need for paper by communicating with each other through e-mail, whenever possible.
  • Credit card processing and night audit work is paperless.
  • Printing documents of two or more pages in length on two sides of each piece of paper
  • Recycling paper, newspaper, cardboard, aluminum, metal, glass and plastics
  • The waterless urinal saves approximately 50,000 gallons of water every year.
“Creating an environmentally sustainable future for all” is a phrase that Habitat Suites holds itself true to — and guests are encouraged to come to Austin and see the sustainability in the comfort of a big suite with a gorgeous garden full of flowers (without the chemicals). Talk about a breath of fresh air!