Are "Green" energy and water savings programs in hotels really about the environment?
Those signs in all the hotels from the cheapest dives to the high end ones make me crazy: "Save the planet- reuse your towel"- as if. However the Starwoods chain of hotels has taken the whole game a significant step forward: they actually give guests a $5 voucher if they decline housekeeping. Starwoods claims significant water and energy savings.
They don't mention the labor savings, but the workers do. At Toronto's Sheraton Centre they are protesting the program; The union claims that the program has nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with profits. From the Star:
[Union leader] Sanders said workers also complained that their workload had become unsustainable, since “green” rooms go several days without cleaning. “It seems like Starwood’s vision for preserving the environment is built literally on the backs of women, both in terms of hurting their ability to provide for their families and hurting their bodies physically in the rooms,” he told the Star.
It's a tough one. Making more profits and giving vouchers to guests in because they are using fewer resources and going green is what any TreeHugger would call a good thing for everyone (well, except for the cleaners). Or one might say, as a commenter in the Star did:
Once again foolish people accept the notion that corporations are into green for anything that has to do with the environment. Corporations only use green when they can turn it into quick profit. Executives get more money and others lose their jobs. Thats the one and only thing green means to any large corporation.
Because using a dirty towel after flying halfway round the world will save our planet./CC BY 2.0
Is that harsh? Or is it true? Don't we want to encourage companies to make more money by using fewer resources?