I'm Green. . .When It's Convenient
Wow. If the 1,041 people interviewed for a new survey that came across my desk can be taken to represent the American traveling public, we are not good citizens when it comes to being "green" on the road. The survey included questions that compared at-home green techniques (water conservation, turning off lights, etc.) with traveling habits.
Here's one that threw me: "When I stay at a hotel I think it is important to have fresh sheets and towels everyday." 76.3 percent agreed with that statement.
When the question was flipped to "When I am at home I think it is important to change my sheets and towels daily" a grand total of 34.2 percent of folks agreed. (And does that number seem really high to anyone else?)
And how about this drastic difference: 70.3 percent of folks surveyed said that "when at home, I try to conserve water as much as possible." 70 percent's pretty darn good. But when the same people were asked how they would respond to this statement, "When I stay in a hotel, I try to conserve water as much as possible," a measly 17.9 percent agreed.
Why? Here's the answer: 62.5 percent of folks agreed that "When I stay in a hotel one reason I use water and energy less efficiently is because I don't have to pay for it."
The problem is that we're all paying for it with the most precious thing we have: our natural resources.
The survey was conducted by Element Hotels, a new extended-stay brand from Starwood. Among the green features it's offering are recycling bins in every room, shampoo dispensers instead of mini bottles (apparently a lot of us like to open a new bottle every day, regardless of whether the previous day's bottle is used up) and compact florescent light bulbs instead of incandescent ones (using 75 percent less energy). None of those changes, to my mind, has a negative impact on the traveler's experience.
Sleeping on sheets more than a night or two is not suffering for a cause; turning off lights when you leave the hotel room simply makes sense (63 percent of frequent hotel guests are more likely to leave a light on when they leave a hotel room than home). They are incredibly easy moves to make, they cost nothing and they save both money and resources.
Element, for example, offers a four-tier pricing stucture; the longer you stay, the less you pay per night; according to Nick Lakas, director of ELEMENT Hotels, part of that is the brand passing along the money they've saved on laundry and facilities by washing sheets and towels less frequently. So without having to lift a finger, you've done something good for its wallet, good for yours, and best of all "it's being efficient and responsible with natural resources," Lakas said.
And if you think it doesn't make a difference, if all this clamour about being green still has you wondering what's in it for you, check out our special issue this Sunday on Climate Change Travel. Beautiful spots around the world, places both perenially popular with tourists as well as those a bit more remote (Greenland, anyone?), are rapidly morphing due at least in part to the influence we humans have had on the planet.
Any thoughts on this survey? Where do you fall in the green spectrum?
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