Are "Green Initiatives" in Hotels Bogus? Hotel Workers Think So


Lloyd Alter

I have always thought that those "save the planet, re-use your towel" signs in fleabag motels were less about saving the planet than they were about saving money, and it appears that hotel workers feel the same way; In Toronto, hotel workers are claiming that green initiatives are "bogus."

Starwood's Sheraton chain has started a "Make a Green Choice" program where guests get a $5 voucher for food or drinks in exchange for doing without housekeeping.
Noor Javed, Toronto Star

Hotel worker Brigida Ruiz calls it a ruse. She tells the Star:

"From our perspective, these programs are doing virtually nothing for the environment. Instead, what they are really intended do is greatly reduce the number of room attendants employed by the hotel each day."

She also questions whether it actually saves anything.

"Do you know how dirty a room gets when it hasn't been cleaned for three days?" asked Ruiz, who has worked at the Sheraton for 18 years."Normally I clean a room in 30 minutes. After three days of no service, it takes me almost an hour and half to clean the room and I use just as much cleaning fluid because the bathrooms are filthy," she said.

Ruiz then says that 30 to 40 eight hour shifts are being lost because of the program.

Starwood calls the program a success, and is quoted in the Star:

In the first six months, 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.

But Starwood also admits there are operational efficiencies:

"Starwood believes the most sustainable sustainability initiatives are those that are economically viable, so there are indeed operational efficiencies driven by this program," the hotel chain said in the statement.

It is one of those difficult tradeoffs. The hotel users get a few bucks back because they are not paying for services that they don't feel they need; the hotel saves a few bucks and a lot of water and electricity; everybody wins except the guys at the bottom who do the dirty work. More in the Star

More in TreeHugger: I have complained about this hotel before. How a Toronto Hotel Welcomes Bicycling Guests

Tags: Greenwashing | Tourism