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False eco-claims in the hospitality industry

There is an increasing trend in going green and claiming eco-friendly services. Many companies including hotels are marketing more eco-friendly alternatives, but are consumers aware of the legitimacy of these “greener” options. Many hotels spend more time and money claiming to be green rather than actually applying these practices to reduce their environmental impact. They slap a green label on anything possible to attract visitors. Of course the savvy eco-friendly traveler will pay a little more to help the environment, but are they really getting what they paid for. Lets take towel usage as an example, it is common to see a place holder to give visitors the option of reusing their towel by hanging them up, thus reducing water usage. Think about it, housekeepers replace towels on a daily basis, does one towel really make that much of a difference. A great amount of water is still being used, making the reuse of a towel insignificant. The same situation goes for sheets, but in reality, not getting your sheets washed everyday during your stay does not save the planet, and often, sheets and towels end up getting washed anyway. Another green alternative in some hotels are the use of recycling bins, but unfortunately housekeepers are still seen throwing recycled items into their trashcans when cleaning rooms. At the end of the day, these placeholders are suggesting that we recycle in anyway possible and to always choose an environmentally friendly alternative. This should remain unchanged although the effect of reusing towels and sheets seems to be insignificant compared to all other energy used in a hotel building.
For hotels to be less green washed there should be only one organization to oversee the legitimacy of a green hotel. Because of independent organizations, standards are obviously going to be different. So some hotel may have certifications that would not pass another organizations requirements. But this would be difficult for one place to oversee all hotels worldwide, which choose to take a more eco-friendly route. Or better yet, one towel per person, no sheets washed until check out, reduce prices for customers because they wont have a fresh pillow case or towel every morning.

Twambo Moyo

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Your “Eco-Friendly” Stay

So I guess I’ll start with my name because it says I have to include it in this post, I’m Max Truong. This is a post about the OG greenwashing, “eco-friendly” hotels; more specifically, how some hotels say they are conserving resources by allowing consumers the option to reuse their towels and sheets or have them replaced. The premise of this was to decrease usage of washing machines and dryers which would decrease emissions and waste. However, the deception was uncovered when people realized that hotels are far more wasteful in other departments such as their kitchens and utilities and lighting. Less washing and drying of sheets and towels actually saved hotels money and did little for the environment. This sort of greenwashing is almost as lucrative and deceiving as McDonald’s changing their European colors from red and yellow to green and yellow to promote the environment.

I propose that hotels should actually consider reducing waste and conserving their resources where it is more important. As stated above, many hotels waste quite a bit through their kitchens and lighting; both of which can become more eco-friendly and less wasteful with proper investment. Simple things such as changing out their light bulbs for more efficient ones, consider actually listening to consumers when they want to reuse towels and sheets, using eco-friendly appliances, etc. These are just a few ways hotels can move forward to becoming an actual eco-friendly, green business.