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Pet peeves: Straws, laundry wrap and towels …

I would like to share a couple of hotel stay frustrations that are emblematic of our unwillingness to change our behavior and reduce negative impact on the environment.

Straws: Scientists have confirmed there are five garbage patches across the world’s oceans where trash, mostly plastic micro particles, accumulate as ocean currents come together in a gyre. In response, a number of international hotel and fast-food giants are pledging to phase  out straws in the immediate future. Well… Why not simply do it immediately? Just stop ordering as of today! Also, why only straws, and not plastic water bottles, small plastic shampoo and body wash bottles, etc., while we’re at it? With the media attention on climate change and plastic, hotel and fast food companies hardly need to “socialize” the idea.

Laundry wrap: Hotel laundry service delivers clean shirts and pants on a hanger in a “protective” plastic sleeve, and underwear and socks wrapped in plastic, delivered in a plastic bag to your room. The first thing guests tend to do is to rip off all the plastic, throw it away and put the clothes in their suitcases. It makes no sense to get rid of straws but continue wrapping laundry.

Towel replacement: Think of it: most of us do not change towels (and bedsheets) at home on a daily basis! All branded hotels and a large number of independent hotels place a tent card in the bathroom: “Save the planet, hang your towel over the rail and it won’t be replaced.” I systematically do so, and yes – housekeeping attendants around the world systematically change it regardless!

According Climate Action Tracker, the planet is on pace for around 3 degrees Celsius of warming this century, and a UNFCC report reminds us that buildings are responsible for 20% of direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions globally. If we hope to curtail greenhouse gas emissions and reach the 2020 Climate Goal of 1.5 Celcius increase only, hotel guests and hospitality professionals need to change behaviors immediately. The planet does not have the luxury of time. Food for thought.  

Not happy hotel openings!

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Getty Images
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