I remember very clearly when those little placards began showing up in hotel bathrooms around the world urging us all to hang up our towels if we were willing to reuse them, thus saving millions of gallons of hot water and the energy required to run the dryers.
On the one hand, I thought, "Good idea!", and on the other, "and how convenient for you
." I can't help it, I'm a cynic by nature. I just wanted the hotels to acknowledge what we all know in our hearts to be true: Less Laundry = Good.
Fast forward a few years, and suddenly the entire tourism industry is waving their green flags at us to get our business and loyalty. Here are just a few of the things you can expect to start seeing more of at hotels everywhere:
1. Shampoo, conditioner, and lotion in sachets instead of tiny bottles. This drastically reduces the weight and volume of packaging being manufactured and disposed of, and I'm 100% in favor of it. The only thing that would be better is no toiletries at all. If we can all manage to bring our own toothbrushes and toothpaste, we can manage shampoo.
2. Eco-friendly cleaning products. Fewer toxic chemicals in the air and on the surfaces? I'm all for it. It's good for guests, and even better for hotel workers.
3. Recycling containers in hotel rooms. A nice idea in theory, but maybe symbolic. Wouldn't it be more efficient to just have staff separate materials somewhere downstream? I recently stayed in a hotel room with a recycling bin, and I kept putting regular garbage in it. I suspect I'm not alone in this.
3. Low flush toilets. I'm all for most water conservation (for showers and landscaping especially), but I actually think this is a bad idea. Most low flush toilets don't get the job done 100% of the time. Most hotel rooms are not what I'd call well-ventilated. Have you ever had to call hotel maintenance because you backed up your toilet, and then had to stand there while they fixed it? Awkward doesn't even begin to cover it.
4. Carbon offset programs. At certain hotels, you can opt to donate a small amount of money for each night of your stay. This money is then invested in supporting clean, renewable energy resources. I'm torn on this one. Renewable energy sources are obviously good, but carbon "offsetting" doesn't really reduce our use of non-renewable resources. I say save your money. If you want to reduce your family's greenhouse gas emissions, just turn off the lights and AC (or heat) when you leave your room, and take public transportation.
What do you say?
Jamie Pearson is the publisher of the family travel website Travel Savvy Mom. It's a cynical, but friendly little corner of the internet. Please stop by.