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Interview: Hotel Ribno – The first zero waste hotel in Slovenia

Interview: Hotel Ribno-Slovenia's first zero waste hotel

The person in charge of the first "zero waste hotel" in Slovenia explained the secret of his success. Including how other hoteliers replicated their leading role models.

This article was originally written by Helena Nieboer for Ekologi Brez Meja (Ecologist without Borders), a member of Slovenia in Zero Waste Europe. This article was translated into English by Saša Erbežnik. All photos are taken by Polona Ponikvar.

Tourism is an extremely important industry for many people. The decline in the number of tourists due to various economic and political crises is of course a very serious blow to any tourist destination. Companies, hotels, and of course individuals will feel the consequences.

In 2017, we can say that from the perspective of tourism, this is a real rebirth of Slovenia. Of course, although there are many advantages for the country and the local population, the increase in the number of guests also brings some significant negative effects. From increased traffic congestion and air pollution to increased water and electricity consumption, there is of course more waste generated.

Recently, we have seen more and more news that some places have decided to impose significant restrictions on the number of tourists because they have placed a burden on the local flora and fauna, coupled with waste, they have turned the previously attractive nature into a Large garbage dump. Therefore, it is extremely important to recognize such environmental impacts and adjust activities accordingly. Research shows that guests want pristine and unspoiled natural scenery, which is an important factor when choosing a resort.

In May, Hotel Ribno officially became the first zero-trash hotel in Slovenia. In the past year, the government has actively implemented recommended measures to minimize the amount of waste. Despite their best efforts, some wastes are unavoidable, but they have ensured that they are properly separated.

From the reception, restaurant and rooms to the most hidden corners, such as the storage room, changes can be seen every step of the way. However, new improvements have appeared again and will continue in the future. Especially zero waste is a long road, and there seems to be no end at the moment!

In order for the hotel to successfully integrate into a waste-free lifestyle, everyone needs to participate. The first is the manager and staff, but if the guests do not participate, of course it will not succeed. Studies have shown that guests on vacation are generally more economical than guests at home. This is mainly reflected in the consumption of electricity, water and food, because there is often a large amount of food left on the plate. Therefore, when implementing measures, how they are presented to guests is very important, so that they are not seen as obstacles, but also to make them aware of their importance to the environment, and therefore to them.

In addition, we must not forget another very important factor-the local environment and suppliers. Locally produced food does not need to travel thousands of miles to serve on the table, which has a significant impact on the quality of the supply, reduces the negative impact on the environment, and allows people in the regional environment to participate and connect. For suppliers who are close and familiar with us, it is also easier to agree on the delivery and returnability of any packaging.

We asked Matija Blažič, the director and owner of Ribno Hotel, the reasons for the decision and the process of introducing these changes.

You may be asked this question frequently these days, but tell us-why did you decide to do this?

"This is essentially a question of education and human personal values. If these certain things look wrong and you have the opportunity to start fixing it, then you can take advantage of it. And when they proposed zero waste in Bled a few years ago Direction and invited us to go to Italy to see a hotel that already has such a name, we made a decision without hesitation. On the basis of this visit, we had in-depth exchanges with those who dealt with these issues, this The decision is easy. It should be said that maybe for those who are still considering the negligible cost of this matter. The main part is to introduce the right thinking, work and communicate it to employees and guests."

In this process of introducing change, what have you learned and what surprised you?

"You will soon find that things are simple and very everyday. If people get a little inspiration from their lifestyle, for example, thirty years ago or more, they will find that sometimes, when all goods are very few, they will consider How to use them more effectively. For example, in our house, bread is always used up and we only buy things that we know will use. Besides, you don’t have to have two new pants and shirts every month. If we buy more than If we need more, we will generate surplus and waste. In our own case (Hotel Ribno), it is great to see how all employees take this matter in their own hands. Obviously, in Slovenia, we take this kind of thinking The process is integrated into our value system, but the imposed consumer culture has been very successful in influencing the individual’s perception of what he needs to feel good in the company of others. In short, with very little effort, we are very fast It attracted employees to participate in this process."

We know that employees are an extremely important part of the success of an organization, which is also reflected in the introduction of the zero waste principle. how did you do it?

"As I have already said-I believe that Slovenians are mostly a thoughtful and economic country. But of course, consumer culture will quickly lead to the wrong path. But when someone reminds us of this, we like to wake up quickly Come."

Would you recommend other organizations in the tourism industry to adopt similar routes? Maybe it's some kind of information about higher recognition, cost savings, and shorter workflows?"I live in Bled, and with some enthusiasts, we also convinced other hoteliers and other travel stakeholders in Bled to join as soon as possible. I think it's worth it (in terms of cost, workflow... ) There is no longer any problem, it is a must and will be necessary for anyone who wants to become a socially responsible company. So far, we may "stumble" to be the first to do so, But after a few years, every company that does not adopt this kind of thinking process will "peek." The only difference is that they will stand out in a negative way."

The name Hotel Rifiuti Zero was coined by Antonino Esposito, the cradle of the zero waste movement in Italy. Ecologists Without Borders is also a European zero-waste national organization, becoming their partner in Slovenia. We use guidance and guidance to help any hotel that decides to get a name. After conducting a thorough review of the existing situation, we prepared a draft measure to monitor its introduction and educate our employees to correctly explain the hotel’s zero-waste changes to guests, partners, and suppliers. The introduction of most of the recommended measures is followed by a review of the situation. On this basis, we evaluate whether the goal of obtaining a certificate has been achieved. It is still their decision what kind of recommended measures the hotel will accept and how to quickly introduce changes.

For more information on the procedures and importance of introducing a zero waste strategy in the tourism industry, please visit the Slovenia Zero Waste website.

"This is essentially a question of education and human personal values. If some of these things look wrong and you have a chance to start fixing it, then you can take advantage of it."

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