The first step to leading an eco-friendly lifestyle is planning ahead. So when I bought my mom and myself plane tickets to San Francisco to celebrate Chinese New Year in America’s largest Chinatown, I knew that I would have to do a little digging to find the best hotel for our needs: good location, eco-initiatives and reasonable cost.
My first plan, of course, was to search Natural Home’s online archives for eco-hotels and eco-travel tips. When I came across this article, I was excited to read about Hotel Triton, a boutique hotel sandwiched in between Chinatown and Union Square—prime location for our four-day stay in the city by the bay.
The Triton’s unique décor was not the only thing that caught my eye; the eco-initiatives of this Kimpton-owned hotel were pretty impressive: hotel-wide recycling (including batteries), nontoxic cleaners, low-VOC paints (in flamboyant colors—our room was red and blue!) and energy-efficient lighting. After scouring the web for a few other hotel possibilities, I kept coming back to the Triton. I secured our fifth-floor room and felt like I made a great choice.
Upon arrival at the Triton, we were greeted by the same funky décor that I scouted online, along with happy front desk people and colorful lights in the elevator. When we got to our floor, we stepped out onto bright-colored carpet and a decently wide hallway. In the bedroom, we were met with a funky, cloth zebra-print headboard, desk lamps on both sides of the bed, and iHome iPod player and a small writing desk in the corner.
I immediately checked out the eco-specs. The snack tray in the entertainment center held a variety of overpriced treats, from Clif bars to Pringles (hey, who can’t confess to eating non-organic sometimes?). The bathroom was stocked with recycled toilet paper and tissue, as well as Aveda hair and body care products. As is common with most hotels now, a small hanging sign advised us that if we didn’t want our towels changed every day (and wanted to help with water conservation), keep them hanging so housekeeping would know not to take them. I wasn’t able to find the efficiency ratings for the toilet, showerhead or faucet, but the office manager assured me that the hotel is in the process of changing all water fixtures to low-flow. The Triton even follows the “no vinyl, that’s final” rule in regard to PVC shower curtains; our shower was lined with an interior cloth and had an exterior curtain. And, unlike in some hotels, the Triton had clearly marked bins for trash and recycling.
Going green is nothing new to the Triton. It’s been undergoing eco-upgrades for about eight years, according to office manager Tim Regan, and the parent company, Kimpton, has a commitment to sustainability for all of its properties.
“It’s a big thing for hotels to be green,” Regan says. “Hotels have had to jump into it, and all hotels should be becoming green.”
But no hotel is perfect. My suggestions for the Triton include committing to organic linens for all guest rooms; considering FSC-certified wood floors; updating all rooms with overhead fans to avoid using air conditioning at night; equipping all rooms with air purifiers; and conducting an energy audit to the entire building (which was built in 1912) to maximize energy efficiency and save the company (and its guests) some green.
If green travels are in your future, plan ahead and consult the Natural Home online archives for advice on how to live green away from home—you’ll be glad you made the effort because you may discover your new favorite hotel…I think I just did!
Also, check out a fun video on the Triton from the Sundance Channel while you're at it.