Monday, March 04, 2013

A Puzzle

Pretty much every hotel I've stayed in has a card in the bathroom saying something like "Help save the environment. We'll only wash your towels if you throw them in the tub."

When I first encountered these cards I thought it was great. But I soon discovered that they were universally ignored, not by the guests, but by the cleaning staff. They always replace the towels, regardless of where you put them or hang them.

As you might imagine, this drives me crazy. First because I want to help save the environment and they won't let me. And second because I can't understand what is going on. Does management think the cards work? But how can they be universally ignorant of what's really happening? Or do they put out the cards in full awareness? But that makes no sense, unless it's all just a ploy to appear green?

I can imagine an explanation from the cleaning staffs perspective. They likely get judged by how the room looks when they are done. And used towels just don't look good. So they have likely learnt they get better evaluations by replacing the towels regardless.

Of course, this is just one small example of a bigger puzzle. Why don't these hotels take obvious steps to save the environment in ways that save them money? Leaky faucets, high flow shower heads, incandescent bulbs (instead of CFL or LED), excessive heating or cooling, disposable everything etc. Some hotels do deal with some of these things, but virtually none do a comprehensive job of it. I could understand it if was a straight expense, but all these things would save them money, and still they don't bother.

It bothers me especially because I know hotels are far from green and yet I still use them. So I feel guilty and I wish they'd at least try to do better.


  1. I've just booked a room at the Lonsdale Quay Hotel in North Vancouver. They offer an Eco Discount rate if you stay for 3 nights or more. They say that they don't provide any housecleaning services during your stay. Makes sense to me.

  2. The cleaning staff probably gets tipped better if the room looks cleaner. No amount of ranting from management will convince their most underpaid staff to give up what little they make on the job.