I travel a lot for work, and spend a lot of nights in hotels. I also spend a lot of time outdoors, getting dirty.
Just two weeks ago I spent a few hours wading through ankle-deep guano in a West Texas cave. Before that, I spent a day hiking into rock shelters near the Devils River looking for rock art.
Even so, I feel pretty clean after I shower. That’s why I always, per instructions that I find printed on cards or posted on the bathroom wall in most hotel rooms, hang up my towels after using them, instead of leaving them in the tub or on the floor. I don’t want them laundered after every use, and it drives me crazy to think of the resources spent doing that for millions of travelers around the planet.
Even when I put my towels on the rack, though – which is supposed to be code for “do not launder” – I often find my linens replaced with fresh ones. I’d estimate the compliance rate at a pathetic 50 percent.
I’m trying to make a better environmental choice. But as often as not, the hotel doesn’t keep up its end of the bargain.
According to a 2014 article on NationalGeographic.com, the American Hotel and Lodging Association estimates that people who ask staff not to launder their towels daily cuts the amount of laundry by 17 percent. That’s a lot, especially when you consider that the Environmental Protection Agency says that hotels and lodges are responsible for about 15 percent of the water used by commercial and institutional facilities in America.
But it could be way higher – if hotels did what they promise to do.
I try to remember to mention it at the front desk when I check out. Please do the same.