You would think that traveling by myself would mean I'd finally have the freedom to do things the 'right' way and not worry about what others were doing. But on my latest work trip I was traveling solo and found myself suddenly worried about the amount of trash that was going to be created during my hotel stay.
It's not to say that Hubby doesn't care about being environmentally friendly or zero waste. He does his part on recycling, refusing plastic bags and being a good steward of the Earth. It's just that it isn't on the forefront of his mind. While we may not be 100% zero waste at home he helps me realize it's all about balance. With him not there to take the blame on this trip all waste created would be on me.
This past year I've stayed in several hotels both for business and pleasure, and I can tell you they can vary widely in the amount of trash they set you up to use. Call ahead and ask questions about their set up. Hotel websites are great for information about amenities, but not if they have plastic cups in the bathroom. But if you don't have a choice in where you stay here are some ways you can try and mitigate waste.
Hotel Travel Size Toiletries
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Zero Waste Hotel Bathroom:
Most hotels offer little travel size shampoo, lotion and hand soap. These smaller sizes have a much smaller plastic:soap ratio, so you are better off just trying to avoid using them. The best way to avoid using them is to bring your own. I personally carry a shampoo bar* while traveling. As a bonus, since it is a solid it doesn't count against your liquids for carry on luggage if you are traveling by airplane. At home I'm using apple cider vinegar for conditioner right now, but while traveling, I usually bring my conditioner bar* since again it avoids carrying luggage. Either can substitute for hand soap. Finally, I do usually carry some coconut oil for face wash or moisturizer.
Zero Waste Hotel Beverages:
Often there are cups in the room. If you are lucky they are glass cups, but it is frequently plastic cups wrapped in plastic. If you are in a hotel that provides the later, do not touch the cup! :) Ok you can touch it, but hopefully you already have a water bottle* so you can just use your own.
Coffee. Bring your own travel mug (hubby's favorite*) and get it filled from the restaurant. Ask what kind of coffee makers they have. For one conference I had a friend who brought her own hot pot to boil water, coffee and mugs. It was less waste to do it that way, but you have to have room in your luggage.
Zero Waste Hotel Linens:
Ok, so this isn't as much about waste as it is conserving resources: don't change the laundry. You don't change your sheets or towels every day at home, so why do it at the hotel? Keep them for as long as possible.Some places have things like hanging towel = keep, towel on the floor = change. Others have signs that you put out to alert the house keeping staff you either want to keep your towels or swap them out. I usually just put up the privacy sign to prevent housekeeping from coming in at all.
Zero Waste Hotel Keys:Hotels frequently use keys with re-programmable chips in them. They are the size of a credit card and either need to be inserted into the card reader or tapped on the card reader. Be sure to return the key to the front desk as you are leaving. They can reuse the keys over and over again and they don't have to be trashed.
Zero Waste Hotel Food:
We stayed at a hotel that a hotel buffet with disposable everything: "paper" plates and plastic cups and silverware. It drove me crazy. So I would first advise you ask about amenities before booking the hotel. If you don't have that option, then bring your own. You do have your silverware kit, right? Of course you can always try to minimize waste by scoping out the buffet for package free getting fruit or other package free options.
Room service typically will be served on real dishes, but it can be more expensive. You can always bring snacks from home or go grocery shopping or eating at restaurants that use real flatware and silverware.
I was able to approach my hotel stay with relatively little waste created. I had most of my meals at the hotel restaurant, but did get a few coffee mugs from the hotel Starbucks. I'm not normally a coffee or tea drinker, but those early mornings of long lectures I needed it. So I'm pretty proud of how things went.
How do you prevent waste when staying in a hotel?
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