C Chatting to Four Seasons Shanghai about Sustainability
In this sustainability chat, I reached out to Budi Widodo. Budi is the Hotel Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai and is also leading the sustainability programs there. Born and raised in a seaside environment, Budi has a special connection with nature.
“I am very happy that people in every country of the world are paying more attention to the environment. As hoteliers, we can make it a big difference to support sustainability initiatives together with our team and guests. ” Budi
Personally I have a soft spot for the Four Seasons, not only because they are an awesome company to work with but also because they are so seeking to lead the way when it comes to Earth-friendly, eco-conscious and sustainability. (I recently did a blog post about their workforce here.)
So I send Budi some questions to find how things have progressed in Shanghai and China over the years.
Thank you Budi for taking the time to talk with me, I’m curious as to what sustainability means for you and your family personally?
It’s a lifestyle to care for our earth. To maximize our ways of thinking and actions to pick up opportunities to do our part for mother nature.
How about professionally, how have you seen the Four Seasons Shanghai approaching sustainability?
It’s now completely different from when I first joined this property (four years ago). The hotel is 20 years old and the first Four Seasons hotel in mainland China. So it was initially built with less focus on sustainability. First I had to convince my colleagues and community by influencing their lifestyles at work. Everyone needs to start from somewhere 🙂
So we started by eliminating plastic straws, plastic bags and takeaway boxes. We reduced the usage of plastic items in the operations department. it’s not 100% but we did have some progress. Since China is heavily focused on business and money I shared the financial performance as measurements to reduce the plastic usage in the hotel. Then in the second year, to replace water bottles, we implemented water dispensers at all Food and Beverage outlets.
Personally I loved the reef restoration projects that were taking place at the Four Seasons Maldives, are there any projects you’ve seen during your time with Four Seasons that you personally connected with, either social or environmental?
One of the corporate initiatives for 2019 in the food and beverage outlets was again the reduction of plastic. For rooms also, the housekeeping department is working with a non-profit organisation based in Shanghai. They collect the leftover soaps, shampoo, conditioner, etc to distribute to orphanages and the local community.
Social issues are a massive part of sustainability and so is being able to create a strong sustainable workforce. I loved my time working at the four seasons because they had such a wonderful working environment, do you think its important to have a strong sustainable workforce and what do you think is the secret behind the amazing Four Seasons environment?
We drive the business through the people and so we do the same with sustainability projects – we drive the initiative through the people. It starts with the executive committee in the hotel to help change our work behaviour from there it cascades to all employees. To create our positive environment we always use the “golden rules” from our founder Mr Isadore Sharp as our working philosophy.
China has seen a lot of changes even in the past 10 years, how do people in China perceive or think about sustainability?
The Chinese government is the key to the success of any initiative in mainland China. No one has more control or power than the China government include sustainability initiative.
I find travelling a difficult topic within sustainability as flying along is a terrible polluter, however, travelling is also a great tool which opens many doors and allows us to see and understand the world in new ways. What are your views on travelling?
We also love to travel just like you, it’s not just for our eyes but more importantly for education and living! Especially for the next generation, we just need to keep inspiration surrounding us… 🙂