I don’t often stay in hotels any more, and when I do, I certainly don’t get the time to ponder their policies or the little signs that they leave hanging in the shower. My trip to San Diego this month was different, and I actually got to take daily showers, so I saw the sign posted above a lot. You may have seen this sign, or similar ones if you stayed in a hotel recently. It encourages you to make the right choice and green our planet by hanging your towel up if you want to save and re-use it after you shower. I always do this, and yet 90% of the time my towel is exchanged for a new one when I return to my room after it is refreshed. My stay at the Marriott in San Diego was no exception.
I am not sure why the staff exchanges the towels, if they forget that it was hung up, if there is actually a corporate policy that directs staff to refresh the towels, if they think that I really meant to have it changed, or if the towel really smells and I haven’t noticed. What ever the reason, it is clear to me that this initiative isn’t working, and doesn’t make me see the hotels as doing something to green the earth. It actually ticks me off a bit, telling me to “do my part”, but then not following through.
I know that the business of hotels can be inherently wasteful. They need to be far more careful about sanitization and cleanliness than I do in my home, and they cater to a large number of guests, most of whom stay there wanting to be pampered and taken care of. I really do understand this, but am no less irked. The daily refresh got me thinking about ways that hotels can make efforts to be greener without sending out these confusing messages and ticking me off in the process. There have to be meaningful changes that they can implement that don’t significantly impact a guest’s experience, or that demonstrate a true desire to reduce an ecological foot print.
Looking around my room, I saw several places where I thought that this particular hotel could have helped me reduce my footprint. In my room there were disposable cups for the coffee maker, wrapped in plastic. They had lids, that were also wrapped in plastic, but a separate piece of plastic. There were recycle bins in some areas of the hotel, but none in the guestrooms. They used incandescent bulbs in the light fixtures, where CFLs or (even better) LEDs could have been used. A gentle reminder to put the do not disturb on the door may have saved me from having the room cleaned when it didn’t really need it… These were the simple things I noted in my room. There likely were many more that could be carried out throughout the hotel. I wish I had seem some, or been told of some. Their absence made the message in the simple shower sign all the more frustrating.
I know that there are no simple solutions, but the card in the shower is not a solution at all. I have never stayed in a hotel when following the instructions on the card has met with the desired result. There has to be a better way.