This is a sign in my hotel bathroom at the Georgetown Suites in Washington, D.C., I took while I was in town for a job interview. The label reminded me of an article or blog post I read some time ago (sorry, but I can’t remember where) about how hotels are appropriating green movement rhetoric in order to cut their own costs for water, power and other materials. Not only that, but labor costs (and the need for more laborers in general) go down when fewer hotel maids are needed to change out towels and sheets if the guests of the hotel don’t need or want them to.
Basically, hotels convince guests that they are doing “Mother Nature” (their appropriation of this term is just disgusting) a favor by re-using towels and linens. Yes, we all know that re-using and recycling is good, but the impact of individual acts (via the individualization of responsibility) has a very limited impact compared to the potential of more large-scale changes. Really it comes down to cost-savings for the hotel in both materials and labor. So next time you want to re-use towels, go ahead, but keep in mind who is really benefiting in the long run.