How to “Walk the Talk” and show that we are not “Greenwashing”

As the founders of the Cayuga Collection, we have been implementing sustainable hospitality initiatives since the mid-1990s.  Sustainability is in our DNA and we can’t think of operating in any other way. We have been recognized for our efforts by organizations like National Geographic, Tourism For Tomorrow, Travel & Leisure, and Conde Nast Traveler, among others.

However, with greenwashing practices becoming ever more present in businesses today, we decided that we needed to have more than our usual proof of our sustainable practices

Greenwashing is a form of advertising or marketing spin in which green PR and green marketing are deceptively used to persuade the public that an organization’s products, aims, and policies are environmentally friendly. Source:  Wikipedia

In 2023, we started to use the Weeva platform to document our sustainability practices at the hotels and upgrade from our current Excel sheets and more manual impact measurements. 

Weeva is a platform that enables businesses within the tourism sector to improve operational efficiency and drive positive impact for people and the planet. It is focused on 18 parameters across Conservation, Culture, Community, and Commerce and enables hotels to monitor, manage, and improve their sustainability practices.

As of 2024, we are officially a member of 1% for the Planet which requires us to donate 1 percent of our revenues to environmental causes – no matter what our profitability is. It is 1 percent of revenue … no faking it here.  This is walking the talk.

1% for the Planet was created by the founder of Patagonia Yvon Chouinard and his business partner Craig Matthews. They created the organization to give consumers the confidence that businesses were donating to their stated charitable partners by certifying them. 

“This is not philanthropy. This should be a cost of doing business. It’s paying rent for our use of the planet.” —Yvon Chouinard

Since 2002, more than 5,000 organizations have joined and jointly raised more than $265 million for environmental non-profits. The donations made by the Cayuga Collection will be channeled to local NGOs located near the hotels where we operate for maximum impact and synergies. 

Oh, and by the way, there is also no ‘faking it’ when we invite our guests to join us on the back-of-the-house tours at our hotels.  It might be possible to ‘fake’ sustainability in the front of the house for a while.  But when you look at the kitchen, laundry, solid waste and wastewater treatment, and the way employees are treated, it is hard to keep up a front. 

Back of the House Sustainability Tour at Hotel Arenas del Mar in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Tell us about your greenwashing experiences and how you make sure that the company where you spend your money is serious about sustainability.  I would love to hear from you.  hans@cayugaonline.com 

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Hans Pfister

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hans@cayugaonline.com