We’ve all seen those signs in hotel bathrooms, asking us to reuse our towels to conserve water. Well, when I stayed at a Sheraton hotel last week, I learned that some hotels are going an extra step. The “Green Choice” program offers guests $5 or 500 Starwood points a night to refuse housekeeping service for up to three nights, aiming to save water, energy and resources. As a business traveler, I was really only going to be in the hotel room at night, so this sounded like a great idea. It was a win-win situation – I get my points, and I get to help save resources.
According to the Sheraton Green Choice website, declining housekeeping services for one night can save 37.2 gallons of water, .19 KWH of electricity, 25,000 btu of natural gas, and 7 oz of chemicals. That seems like a lot for just one night! But I guess if you take into account all the water and chemicals saved by not having to wash and dry towels every day, that could make sense. The hotel chain also stated that in the first six months of the program, “more than 200,000 guests across North America participated in the program, which resulted in a reduction in water consumption of more than 8.2 million gallons of water. In addition, 38,000 kilowatts of electricity was saved and chemical use was reduced by 11,000 gallons.” That’s pretty cool – definitely a win for the environment. And a win for the hotels too, since they are are saving money on water and electricity costs.
But this program may not be a win-win situation for everyone. What about the housekeepers? Whenever a guest decides to opt out of housekeeping for a night, these cleaning attendants are losing out on their hourly wages as well as daily tips. It really is unfortunate that going green can mean some people are losing out in terms of jobs and salaries. Green is supposed to be good, and it’s supposed to create jobs, not destroy them! So the next time I’m asked if I want to participate in the Green Choice program, I’m going to have to make a decision – the environment or someone’s job?? Hopefully one day there is a solution that will allow me to not have to choose!