Dear Hotels: Stop with the bottled water!

Photo provided by Ban The Bottle,

I have a message for hotels: please, please, STOP with the endless disposable bottles of water that you insist on providing to guests daily.

This is one area where the hotel industry really needs to improve, especially in an era where most of them have made at least courtesy nods to environmental practices. In most hotels these days, from the five-star to the most modest motel room, you find some sort of note in the bathroom that says something like, “In order to conserve energy, if you wish to reuse your towels, place them on the bar. If you want us to wash them, leave them on the floor.”

Similarly, there is often a card by the bed saying that you can leave it on the bed if you don’t need your sheets changed. All of this is to save water for the most part, along with other benefits (less chemicals and of course, less work that the hotel staff has to do per guest). The hotel where I’m currently staying doesn’t even do that.

Then, for the love of Mother Earth, they shove throw-away plastic water bottles down your throat every single day.

These are the water bottles collected in my hotel room in JUST ONE DAY.
These are the water bottles collected in my hotel room in JUST ONE DAY.

I suppose the hotel industry has not picked up on the irony of this. We are now using a million plastic water bottles per minute — just let that sink in for a second. And 91% of these are not recycled. They end up in the oceans or landfills, and they take around 400 years to decompose. Plastic is a huge problem for our sea life; nearly every day I see stories of turtles, dolphins, fish and other animals with plastic wrapped around them, in their organs, etc.

But hotels are not only helping to feed this endless tide of bottled water (that we all, individually and as a society, need to work on), they are missing out on a really great marketing and revenue opportunity!

Instead of disposable water bottles, hotels could provide their own branded reusable bottles. Nice sturdy ones, metal or rubber or solid BPA-free plastic. These could be in each guest room, and treated like the bathrobe amenity: with a card around its neck that could say something like:

“We’ve provided you this refillable water bottle to use during your stay. Filtered water stations are available in our lobby. We have elected to do this instead of disposable bottles. If you wish to keep your bottle as a souvenir, your room will be charged $20 (or whatever.)”

Remota water bottle

Above is an example of a fantastic water bottle that my partner Keith and I were given at the Remota Hotel in Patagonia, Chile. It’s durable metal, with the Remota logo prominently on it. It’s attractive, and very useful (an optional clip at the top allows you to attach it to a backpack, etc.) We got these bottles in 2014 and, four years later, we still use them all the time.

Not only could this start to make a dent in that flood of trashed bottles coming out of hotels every day, but I bet many guests would buy the bottles if they were nice enough — and what great ongoing marketing for the hotel!

Just my two cents’ worth. What are your thoughts on the subject?

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