I was raised to be a conscientious citizen of the world. I recycle, take public transportation, turn off the lights when I leave the room, and recently started composting. For years traveling around the world I would smile when I read hotel signs that asked guests to hang up their towels instead of requesting new ones. I would also delight when I walked into a new hotel room and see that there was a recycling bin alongside the trash bin.
With hotels across the globe taking steps to show their commitment to the environment, is there a way for us to become even better eco-guests, whether you stay at large hotels chains or local boutique establishments known for their eco-practices? You bet! Here are a few simple things you can do during your next hotel stay to leave a smaller footprint.
Bring Your Own Toiletries Every company makes travel size toiletries these days. By bringing your own shampoo and conditioner, you save plastic, as the hotel doesn't have to replace the products you used during your short stay. If you just can't resist trying a new product, make sure you finish the product and take it with you to refill and reuse on your next trip.
Hang the Do Not Disturb Sign on the Door Your hotel room was cleaned just prior to your arrival and you are probably not spending enough time in it to make a massive mess. By hanging the Do Not Disturb sign on your door you are telling the hotel that no cleaning and no new towels are required. This simple act uses less electricity, (no vacuum), less chemical cleaning agents, and less water, as no washing of sheets or towels is required. If the thought of staying in a hotel and not having your room cleaned is too much for you, experiment; hang the Do Not Disturb sign every other day and see how you feel.
Request the Hotel Not Turn on the Radio/Lights Prior to Your ArrivalWhen this first started happening on my travels, I would to look around thinking I just entered an occupied room. While the idea of entering a hotel room that feels less empty/lonely is nice, it's not really doing anything to make us think we're not away from home. Save the electricity and tell the front desk it's not necessary.
Leave the Stationary Behind Are you really composing hand written notes these days? While it may be tempting to collect hotel stationary from exotic locales, why not take a picture of the stationary with your camera phone instead? Pictures last longer, plus you can post it on your Facebook wall.
Ask the Hotel to Email You the Bill Don't waste another piece of paper by requesting a printed a copy of your stay. Everything is electronic these days so ask the front desk to email you a copy. Better yet, before settling your bill, ask for a digital copy instead of having it slipped under your door at night. As we know, every little bit helps! - Linden Schaffer
This article was written for and originally published on The Huffington Post.