Hotels innovate to reduce their laundry loads

As it gears up for its Responsible Tourism Programme this November, World Travel Market has been looking at innovative schemes that encourage hotel guests to generate less laundry.

University of Luxemburg researchers working with hotels in Swiss and Austrian ski resorts last year showed that replacing the usual 'save the planet' request for towel reuse with a message saying ¾ of guests in that particular room reused their towels proved significantly more effective. Psychologists put this down to a wish for group acceptance.

Radisson Blu has also been taking a fresh approach to its towel reuse cards by using them to inform guests of an extra feel-good incentive.

For every 250 towels that guests reuse, the hotel chain is donating enough money to the charity Just a Drop to provide clean water for a child for life.

Guests will learn the latest total of how many children have benefitted through the bathroom cards. Radisson Blu hopes its efforts will mean 12,000 children have access to fresh drinking water each year.

Starwood is meanwhile giving $5 food and drink vouchers or 500 Starwood points to guests for each day they decline housekeeping services. A positive bi-product of the Make a Green Choice incentive has been to drive guests to the hotel's own restaurants but a negative has been a protest that the programme was taking away jobs.

Other hotels have been innovating in the way they reuse laundry that has come to the end of its life. Marriot is partnering with UK social enterprise Sleeping Bags to turn bed linen into other items for guest rooms like bathrobes, tote bags and slippers, while seven designers turned bed sheets into kimonos at the Eco Fashion Week Show in Edmonton this May.

Conversely, taking a sustainable approach to creating new sheets, W Hotels in North America, in a partnership with and Coca Cola, recently introduced the Ekocycle range of bed linen made from recycled plastic bottles.

- See the World Travel Market Responsible Tourism blog and find more about the various schemes at:

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