The hypocrisy of hotels

Towels on a rack in a hotel room

Towels on a rack in a hotel room (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not a raving tree hugger, nor do I walk the streets campaigning on green issues, but I do appreciate the little efforts here and there to make our lives on the planet a bit more ecologically sound. Everyone should do their little bit and all those little bits should add up to something.

Invariably, when you stay in a hotel, there will be a notice tucked away somewhere in the bathroom which explains the hotel’s policy on cleaning towels. It will wax lyrical about how seriously the hotel chain takes environmental issues before petitioning that guests help in this endeavour by choosing when to have their towels washed, thus saving on all that nasty ecologically unsound detergent.

Sometimes, it’s not just the towels that get this treatment, in the hotel I am currently writing this, they also ask you to be a bit more economical with the sheets too. I don’t have a problem with the policy because who washes their sheets and towels every single day at home?

But I can’t help feeling that this practise must save the hotel a fortune in laundry costs, so they are not making this plea out of the goodness of their hearts. I would be a lot more impressed with their green credentials if they donated the money saved by this laundry frugality to some worthy ecological cause.

I find it amusing that the very same hotel that is lecturing me on my impact on the planet, with no sense of irony, replaces my soap every day with a brand new freshly wrapped bar. I can cope with using the same soap two days in a row. If they really cared about saving the planet, they wouldn’t make the tap water so poisonous that you are left with no choice but to imbibe the bottled variety which can be as much as 1,000x more damaging to the environment. Not only that – but it’s damned expensive too.

I like the individual jars of jam and honey – but they can’t be too good for the environment either. Nor can the two-inch bottle of ketchup that contains exactly enough for one breakfast. My room has 11 light bulbs and they are annoyingly controlled by a complex interplay of switches that means you need to go through a painful deductive process to get them all to switch off at once. I suspect most people try for a while then give up and go out leaving some on.

Maybe I’ll bring a tent next time.

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2 comments on “The hypocrisy of hotels

  1. Yes Martin, this is something that really irks me as well. Blatant self interest makes the “concern for environment” hotel room notices reek of hypocrisy. Having done a quick “back of the boarding card’ estimate of my work / travel life over the past 15 years I have spent no less that 2,500 nights in hotels and flown more than 1 million miles. like many of us in this business. If there is a hell for people with high carbon footprints I surely meet you there.

    It is easy in a hotel to a “its not my problem; I’ve paid for it; and, a who cares?” attitude. How many times have you freshened up a suit by hanging it in the bathroom and running the hot shower to steam the wrinkles out? Or left a pile of food on your plate after the buffet? Or stuck a card of some kind in the mains shut off switch to keep the room power-up while out? Even a the risk of contributing to the financial benefit of Paris Hilton we have to do our bit and use the old soap and not open the new packet.

    there is no “out there, or over there”. We all breath the same air and drink the same water. Personal conservation is the impetus to cultural change. You may be old enough to remember that dropping trash out the car window was not the heinous offense it is today, or smoking on a plane? Change individual behaviour and we change society behaviour. if we put the effort in individually collectively we wil questions corporate fairy-tails like “clean coal” and start to turn the corner on this freight train of ecological disasters we see rolling by but do nothing much about.

  2. I can’t agree with you more. Whenever I stay at a hotel, I hang up the do-not-disturb sign the whole time I’m there. I don’t need to have my room tidied and my little incidentals refilled each day. I don’t care if it affects the hotel’s bottom line or not — I know it affects the planet.

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