Do This One Thing When Traveling to Save the Environment

help the environment

Remember what hoteling was like prior to the mid-90s? You booked a room, checked into the room, stayed in the room, laughed at the people having sex in the next room, and then eventually checked out of the room. It was a simple process that didn’t require much coddling.

But as competition got fiercer among hotel chains at the turn of the century, new service standards were devised. Chief among them became daily room cleaning. While it’s noble that hotels offer this complimentary service, there’s one big problem …

It’s pimping the environment.

Unless you’re a sasquatch or you were Jell-O wrestling with Stormy Daniels, chances are those bed sheets and bath towels are hardly soiled after just one day’s use. And unless you threw a raging popcorn party with the screaming kids across the hall, the floor probably doesn’t need vacuuming.

Think about the resources that are used on those aforementioned services for the millions of people who stay in hotels everyday. The countless gallons of water. The untold megawatts of electricity. And don't forget the fact that you breathe in and touch the toxic cleaning solvents deployed to constantly christen the space (chemicals that somehow still can’t seem to sanitize the comforters or the walls.)

I get it. It’s nice to come back to an unsullied room. It’s also nice to hope Jennifer Aniston will find you on Bumble, but you probably don’t need to wait by your phone. Trust me …

What then is a good hoteling policy that comforts you and cares for the environment? The brain trust of Lewis Loves You has some suggestions:

Have housekeeping clean your room with the same frequency that you clean your house

If you clean your room every three days, follow the same rule on the road. If you clean your room once a week, ditto. If you never clean your room, your mother is very disappointed in you.

Also, if you’re sharing the room with someone and simply need another towel, just go to the front desk and get one. Having housekeeping go through the rigmarole of purifying your pad just to replace the towels is the intellectual equivalent of getting a new transmission just because you need a new spark plug.

reuse your hotel towels

Remember mindfulness

Scrubbing a hardly-used room is not just a waste of physical resources. There’s also a mental facet at play, a psychological phenomenon I call “the subconscious positioning of pointless pampering.” When we’re given more than we need, we become conditioned to expect more and, therefore, waste more.

Think about it. If you suddenly opened your cupboards to discover 50 cans of soup, you wouldn’t feel too bad if you wasted a can. But if you only had one can of soup and wasted it, you’d definitely (hopefully?) care.

How would you behave if the hotel only gave you one towel? Would you wash your hands with it once and then lob it to the floor like the head of an ancient Mayan villager ceremoniously sacrificed to honor a stranger assumed to be a god who in actuality was just some white guy lost in the woods? Nope. You’d use it a few times.

Know the incentives

Still don’t see the benefits of using the same sheets twice? Here’s some motivation. With more and more hotels looking to save money and resources, many have begun offering rewards to guests who forgo daily cleaning. That, of course, adds up to big perks like discounts on food and free stays. Free money and helping the environment? Pun alert – talk about going green.

Have more ways to help the environment when traveling or on the road? Send me your ideas and I'll keep them in mind for future posts.


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