On a recent trip to one of my offices in St. Louis I stayed in a well-know national hotel chain. As I walked into the lobby, I was greeted by a mini-wind turbine on the front desk and was pleasantly surprised to see this hotel’s support for being green.
As I got into my room, I saw a small placard in the bathroom that stated the hotel’s commitment to being environmentally-friendly and encouraged guests to reuse their towels. It went on about the millions of gallons of water and detergent used to wash towels daily and how it was unnecessary waste if the towel was still clean.
Sitting on the couch, I noticed the lights were left on by housekeeping, TV was tuned to a local station for my enjoyment and most notably the air conditioner was set to a chilly 65 degrees turning my eyebrows into icicles. I sat back and reflected on all of this and thought, “Do they really care about being green? What about their sign in the bathroom…maybe they just don’t want to spend money on laundry?”
My curiosity got the best of me. After shutting off the TV, turning off the lights and opening up the curtains to let light in, I called the front desk and inquired about the true meaning behind the placard. After questioning the very polite hotel manager, I found out that laundry wasn’t even done on-site. So, the placard is not about wasted water, detergent or staff; it’s about saving money and the bottom line. Less towels means less laundry, which means less to pay the launderer. Speaking of the launderer, does the hotel know whether they have any green practices, like using environmentally-friendly detergent, recycling the water or conserving energy?
I’ve seen similar placards all across the country and can’t help but think it’s a PR tactic to make me feel better about staying at their “forward-thinking-clean-green-therefore-expensive” hotel. I would rather they say, “Please help us keep your rates down by using your towel more than once.”
If the hotel is going to be environmentally-friendly, it would have more impact on me by keeping the air conditioner off when someone is not in the room, keeping the lights off or put them on motion sensors and keeping the TV off. Also, I would love to see a recycling bin and a sign that reads, “When you’re done with the beverage we’ve conveniently placed in your refrigerator and ripped you off by charging $5, please put it in the recycling bin provided.”
As I checked out, I asked the young man at the front desk when the last time someone used my room. He said business was a little slow and it had been four days since someone was in there. So much for the wind turbine.