Housekeepers blow whistle on eco-abuse

Rock stars notoriously trash their hotel rooms, but everyday traveler’s have a serious lack of “eco-etiquette,” according to Randal Savage, responsible for housekeeping at ELEMENT Hotels as Corporate Director, Rooms at Starwood Hotels & Resorts. The average hotel guest might not invite 30 of his closet friends over for a 4 AM fiesta, but from leaving lights on all day to air-conditioning the outdoors, hotel guests often leave their “eco-etiquette” at home.

Over the years, Savage has heard it all. Room attendants have entered empty suites to find the lights on, TV blaring and even the shower running. “I don’t think anyone is intentionally wasteful on the road, but it can be hard to stay on the straight and narrow when your routine is disrupted by travel. We know our guests want to be eco-conscious; it is our job to make it easy for them,” said Savage.

The challenge was confirmed in a recent survey commissioned by ELEMENT Hotels, an upcoming extended-stay brand from Starwood. The results show that despite their best intentions, nearly 60% of frequent travelers admit to dropping their “green routines” on the road. While 70% agree that they try to conserve water “as much as possible” at home, only 18% do the same in a hotel. And 63% percent admit to being more likely to leave a light on when they leave a hotel room than home. The survey was conducted by the research firm STUDYLOGIC.

In response, the ELEMENT design team is building in smart touches that make being eco-friendly on the road intuitive and easy for guests. That means everything from using eco-friendly materials wherever possible—even the art will be mounted on a base made from recycled tires—to making smart choices like shampoo dispensers in the showers that eliminate landfill-clogging mini-bottles.

But savvy travelers don’t have to wait for ELEMENT to open its doors in 2008 to start reducing their environmental impact on the road. Savage’s background in hotel housekeeping led him to identify several smart choices travelers can make to improve their “Eco-Etiquette”:

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  — Get unplugged: Many people don’t realize that their cell phone
charger, laptop cable and other electrical plugs drain power
while they are plugged in, even if they are not in use. In
fact, only 5% of the power used by an average cell phone
charger is used to charge the phone—the other 95% is wasted
energy.

  — Seize the day: Take advantage of natural light as much as
possible—it is as renewing for your spirits as it is for the
planet.

  — Chill out: Hotels are often climate-controlled, but many will
let you adjust the room temperature. Always set the
temperature around 68 degrees in winter and 78 degrees in
summer to maximize both energy efficiency and personal
comfort.

  — Lights out: Keeping the bathroom light off overnight makes a
big impact—and will help you to sleep better. Traveling with
a nightlight is an easy, eco-friendly alternative.

  — Conserve while you sleep: ELEMENT’s survey confirmed that only
a small percentage of people change their linens every day at
home—so why should a hotel be any different? Taking advantage
of a hotel’s linen reuse policy is a smart choice.

  — Use common sense: Be sure to turn off the lights and TV and
make sure faucets are closed before leaving your room.
“ELEMENT is designed to minimize our environmental impact without detracting from the guest experience,” says Sue Brush, Senior Vice President at Starwood and head of the ELEMENT brand. “It is all part of our mission to help our guests thrive and be at their best.”
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