Will Tourism become the biggest polluting Industry in the future?

Feb 07, 2020

 Hi guys!

I am back with the 50 Shades Greener thought of the week. Last Thursday I watched a documentary by Stacey Dooley on the Environmental impact of the fashion industry, and I was floored with the statistics!! I really had no idea that the clothing industry was so damaging, it actually is the second most polluting industry in the world, after Oil of course.

I learned that to make a pair of jeans, the industry uses over 21,000 litres of water, 21,000!!!! That is unbelievable. Straight away my mind raced to my wardrobe were I have 3 or 4 pairs of jeans that have not seen daylight in months. What a waste, I actually feel pretty guilty about it. Here I am preaching to the Hospitality industry about the things we can do to save water, while my wardrobe alone possibly contains millions of litres of water. So we live and learn, and now I have the awareness I needed, my shopping habits will change. Not that I am a great shopper to be honest, since I moved to the country years ago the only shops in my local village is a petrol station, 3 pubs and a restaurant. So not having the temptation to shop actually makes you NOT TO SHOP!! It is pretty simple. I also learned that cotton uses more water than any other fibre and also holds a huge amount of chemicals. According to Stacey, Cotton is one if the top 5 Environmental catastrophes of planet earth, wow. This is powerful information, although sometimes ignorance is bliss! From now on I will watch the materials my clothes are made of, but I guess the solution is like many others, stop buying new clothes so often!! Yes we need new clothes, but we need to be aware of the consequences our actions will have on the planet. And what is wrong with second hand shops? I personally love them, you need to have time to browse but you can find real gems!!

So after watching the documentary I started wondering in what position of the most polluting industries does Tourism sit in? I was half scared to find out but I spent some time researching at the weekend and I must say it was not easy to put an exact position for it! Here is what I learned. The most polluting industries worldwide seem to be:



Travel emissions

Meat & dairy


Obviously amongst many more. This got me worried as Travel emissions, meat and waste are all industry that increase their production thanks to the Tourism Industry.

According to @josh_gabbatiss from the Irish independent Newspaper, Tourism is responsible for nearly a 10th of the world’s carbon emissions. This includes many sectors associated to tourism from air travel to souvenirs. The biggest tourism polluting countries are USA, Germany and China, not surprisingly as they are higher income countries and people travel more.

Another fact I found is that Tourism is growing at a rate of about 5% a year, which means it is growing much faster than other industries and therefore we stand to also increase its Carbon emissions rapidly. I am estimating that we could easily be one of the top 3 polluting industries globally in the next 10 to 20 years. That is a scary thought.

So would it not be amazing if we could do something to change that? Would it not be amazing if the industry took a proactive approach on their Carbon emissions?

Here are my problem – solution thoughts:

Air Travel – Look out for places you can reach by train or bus, while not always possible, it is worth to try, specially for those departing from mainland Europe on to other European countries. Trains can be an amazing experience!

Meat – Include more vegetarian options in menus, so that less meat is consumed, a good healthy choice of dishes will also gain you some great marketing and PR.

Energy – How many hotels and restaurant are fully aware of the Energy and Carbon they use and produce? Possibly less than you think, yet, Energy accounts for a large Carbon output. Hospitality businesses need to get on top of their resources and reduce their Energy consumption, it is possible, I have done it in many Hotels I have worked in, so if I can do it EVERYONE can.

Waste – This is one of the most annoying parts of the Hospitality industry, mini toiletries, individually wrapped sauces, mini butter pads, plastic bottles the list could go on and on an on. But this is a blog in itself. Actually I will make it my mission to get some figures and solutions for you on this in the coming weeks.

Water – Well you probably know by now what the benefits of installing a Hyppo bag in a cistern can be, it was in last week’s blog. Reducing Water usage at a Hospitality business IS POSSIBLE and in fact quite easy. Check out this completely FREE training video on my web if you want to get started Water Conservation Training

In 1950, 25 million tourist travelled internationally

In 2015, 1168 million tourist travelled internationally

It is estimated that in 2030 a whopping 1.8 BILLION people will travel internationally.

The stats are there and they are very real, and if we continue as we go, and not implement changes, Tourism will soon become an unsustainable industry and the tide will turn when society will start seeing it as a “bad thing to do”.

As responsible business owners, we can all do something to reduce the use of resources, it is easier and more rewarding than you think!!

So that’s it, my two cents for this week, I hope you find it useful!




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