California Hotels Banned From Offering Mini Toiletries in Plastic

Public Domain. Unsplash/Jakob Owens

It's part of a statewide effort to crack down on plastic waste.

If you're traveling to California, you should get used to packing your own shampoo and conditioner because soon you won't be able to count on getting these for free with a hotel room. A bill was just signed into law this week by Governor Gavin Newsom that states all hotels must phase out the mini single-use shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion bottles that travellers have become so used to expecting in hotel rooms.

Hotels with more than 50 rooms will have to comply by 2023, while those with under 50 have until 2024. If they violate it, there's an initial $500 fine, followed by $2,000 for any subsequent offences. Keep in mind, this does not mean travellers have to live with greasy hair; they'll just have to make a trip to a corner store, or a store located within the hotel, to purchase their own. Or perhaps California hotel owners will discover innovative companies like Plaine Products, which offer green toiletries in refillable metal containers.

The bill (AB 1162) was sponsored by Assembly Member Ash Kalra from San Jose. Kalra is quoted in CNN:

"Little everyday actions, like eliminating small plastic bottles, will have a positive impact on our environment. By barring hotels from giving single-use plastic toiletries to customers, we are safeguarding our environment, and mitigating plastic waste and waterway pollution."

The move is part of the state's broader effort to reduce plastic waste, and it reflects a trend that's already been growing within the hospitality industry. Earlier this year, both the InterContinental hotel group and Marriott International said they would eliminate mini toiletries. On a related note, Hilton said it would start melting down partially-used bars of soap to make new ones. Disney cruise ships promised to add 'refillable in-room amenities.' The difference, though, is that this change is coming from the state level, as opposed to individual businesses making the choice.

California's move is a progressive one, and hopefully indicative of changes to come around the world. I never use hotel toiletries for the very reason that they generate such waste and I dislike the heavily perfumed formulas. That's why I always travel with shampoo and conditioner bars in metal tins, either from Unwrapped or Lush.