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Earth-Conscious Hotel Guests Re-Use Towels

Hotel guests are reminded to save the planet, by keeping their used towels, when they step into the shower.

Visitors skip new towels, sheets to help conserve

You - yes, you - can save the planet.

That message is being spread across America - not by environmental activists but by ordinary business men and women, families on vacation, truckers and salespeople who would never think of carrying a picket sign.

Their venues for this grass-roots movement are the motel bathrooms where travelers shower and the hotel beds where they lay their heads at night.

In more than 17,000 U.S. hotels and motels, travelers who are staying longer than one night are agreeing to forgo a change of towels, washcloths, and bed sheets in the name of conservation. This is quite a variance from the usual custom of enjoying clean linens each night.

You’ll find messages like this on the nightstand of thousands of U.S. hotels.
You’ll find messages like this on the nightstand of thousands of U.S. hotels.

According to Project Planet - a company that grew out of the Inter-Continental Hotel chain’s efforts to save energy costs - this skip-the-clean-towels program in a 100-room hotel keeps 2,300 liters of dirty water and 150 liters of detergent out of the ecosystem - each month.

Labor costs drop, too, since housekeepers can finish cleaning a room faster when they don’t have to change linens and towels.

The Holiday Inn Express chain leaves little Project Planet placards in rooms that read, “Yes, I’ll help!” Other motels instruct guests to drop towels in the tub if they want them washed; otherwise, the cleaning staff won’t bother.

Not everybody likes this idea. Some patrons, particularly at upscale hotels, grouse that they’re paying plenty for a room and want to be pampered with fresh linens - “and don’t forget the mint on the pillowcase.”

But as many as 95 percent of guests at other hotels are going along with the program - buying into the idea that they’re saving the planet, one washcloth at a time.