Arnaud’s Open blog

Opinions on open source and standards

Hotels’ environment protection program

If you travel a bit and stay in hotels you will have for sure noticed that most hotels around the world seem to have become environment aware.

Invariably it seems, you now found in hotel rooms a little sign, of one form or another, inviting you to help the hotel protect the environment by reusing your towels from one night to the next. In an effort to convince customers the sign never fails to explain how much laundry hotels make every day, and how the tons of water and detergents being used over time adversely impact the environment.

I’m actually completely fine with reusing my towel. Without waiting for hotels to educate me on the necessity to spare our environment as much as possible, I have always thought it was a complete waste to change my towel every day. This, along with the systematic change of the soap bar, has always annoyed me actually.

So I’m glad there is now a simple way to communicate my preference as to when to change my towel based on the very simple convention being typically used: towel on the floor means “please, change my towel”, towel on the hanger means “I’ll reuse that towel, thanks”. I did notice that sometimes it still gets changed even when I don’t leave it on the floor but it seems to work for the most part.

Now, despite this improvement, I’m still annoyed. The reason for this is that hotels aren’t being honest with us. I think hotels are using our willingness to spare the environment not so much to protect the environment but primarily to increase their profit.

This sentiment is ever so reinforced when in the very same hotels I find that they use disposable dishware in the breakfast room. How come they aren’t concerned about the environmental impact of throwing away tons of plastic utensils, paper cups, and styrofoam plates? They certainly know that this has a terrible impact on our environment, maybe even more so than doing all their laundry. Most of the time they don’t even appear to recycle anything because all they provide is a single trash bin in which food remains and used disposable dishware pile up.

The only possible explanation for this inconsistency is that hotels don’t care that much about the environment. What they really care about is their bottom line. When they gain from the program, such as from doing less laundry, they are happy to do it, but if it’s cheaper to use disposable dishware than washing dishes every day they’ll put aside any consideration of environment protection to ensure greater profit.

Granted it is still better that they have some program rather than none, but if their sole interest was to save the environment they could go one step further and pass the cost saving they generate from doing less laundry onto customers in one form or another, donate the money to some environment protection program of one kind or another, or simply use the money to wash dishes! If anything, I believe this would constitute an additional incentive for customers to participate in the towel reuse program.

Instead, it is clear that hotels merely see these towel reuse programs as an opportunity to improve their public image by endorsing an environment friendly attitude all the while increasing their profit. Now, there is nothing wrong with companies trying to increase their profit, that’s what companies are expected to do, what’s wrong is being deceitful about it.

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March 10, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

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