Monday, August 25, 2008

Hotel Annoyance

"As part of (fill in the blank - any large hotel chain)'s commitment to conserve the environment, we will change bed linens and towels as necessary or upon request."

You know what is really annoying to me about these little signs in all the hotel rooms? Not changing the linens has NOTHING to do with the environment. I'm happy they don't change my sheets every day, but don't tell me it is for the better of the earth. You know it is for the better of the company's bottom line. Don't have to have as many housekeepers, don't have to do as much laundry, etc.

If theses large hotel chains really had a "commitment to conserve the environment, " they would have recycling programs (better yet, they would have in-room recycling!), better menu options, and other action items that I can't think of right now because I'm so annoyed!


half pint pixie said...

Totally agree, it's complete greenwashing. And I've always found (especially in Ireland) if you leave the towel on the rack (as in "don't give me a new one"), they give you a new one anyway!

Green Me said...

I have to say that I disagree on a personal level. Most of my career has been spent working in hotels and these measures have not necessarily been instituted top down. And, many hotels who profess to be participate, still wash towels and sheets daily -- continuing to waste vast amounts of water and electricity.

In other words, if the hotel is actually walking the walk and not just advertising it, someone in the management probably does care about the environment. The resources used to wash sheets and towels is immense and sure, it may save the hotel money, but isn't it more important that it saves resources no matter what? For example, one year the price of natural electricity went up 20% in Denver -- that increased the hotel's gas bill that winter by 1.2 million dollars. So yes, you are right that one motivation of the hotel is to save money, but the people working in the hotel may also be aware of the resources (water/electricity that are being saved).

Also, the fact that hotels don't always recycle are symptoms of problems bigger than just the hotels. For example the last hotel that I worked at was in downtown Denver and we had to pay extra to recycle. And, the recycling pick up wasn't just a few cents more than trash pick-up, is was a much, much more expensive than trash service. Eventually, a few employees convinced the head house keeper to recycle the daily newspaper (which was BTW delivered for FREE by the Denver Post -- we couldn't seem to shake them) and we did recycle all of our office paper. However, when it came to in room recycling, when the average guest has trouble putting a Kleenex (or other unspeakables) in the trash, just imagine how difficult it might be to implement in room recycling. At our hotel, we would have had to pay some one to sort the trash, plus extra to have the recycling picked up.

Also, other factors relate to guests -- one summer we tried turning the AC off in rooms that were unoccupied, but basically every guest that checked in would then complain that his/her room was too/hot or that the AC wasn't working. To keep guests happy we ended up going back to our previous policy of leaving the AC on in all rooms, so that it would be nice and artificially cool for our guests on arrival.

Sorry for the long response, but I guess my overall message is that there are a lot of reasons behind why businesses do or don't implement green practices and the best we can do is support them when they do and suggest improvements when they don't.

GreenStyleMom said...

I agree that the problems are much larger than indvidual hotels and that we should support them when they do make changes, and I am happy that they aren't washing towels daily (although this hotel still took all the towels daily!). I just don't like them advertising it they way they do. (and I am not doubting the concern of individuals in the company. you should of seen me trying to fight little changes in a federal govt institution - it was next to impossible!)

If other large institutions such as IKEA and some airports/parks can recycle, I don't see why high-end national hotels that are advertising themselves as committed to the environment can't figure out/pay for recycling (even centrally - doesn't have to be in room). There isn't even a recycling bin in the business center where LOTS of paper is in the trash. And when I asked the concierge about recycling, they looked at me like I was nuts. If the corporation is truly "commitment to the environment," it should be more consistent in its message.