The Green Hotel Association (GHA) suggests using "printed towel rack hangers and sheet changing cards" in the bathroom of hotel rooms. The sign on the hanger mentions that guests do not have to have their linens changed (sheets, pillow cases) if they prefer not to; they can help the hotel save water -- in fact the GHA notifies the hotel guest that "millions of gallons of water are used to wash bed sheets" every day. So when the "sheet-changing card is left on the pillow, the room attendants" know to just make the bed but don't wash the sheets (Fostering Sustainable Behavior).
The obvious positive aspect of this is not just water savings but the electricity that it takes to heat the water and run the huge industrial clothes washing machines represents even more savings. There is no negative aspect to asking the room attendants to leave the same sheets on. In addition, a card in the bathroom asking people to put their towels on the rack and that will let the attendant know that he or she does not need to bring in fresh towels, another way to save water and energy. The Website Fostering Sustainable Behavior states that in the many hotels where these towel and sheet cards are placed the participation rate has been "70 to 90%," which translated into an overall savings to each hotel that does this of 5%. The Regal Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles has saved about 1,700 pounds of detergent and 375,000 gallons of water each year by placing the cards in the bathroom.
The only problem that could possibly relate to avoiding washing sheets, pillowcases and towels is that the person in charge of loading and unloading the washing machines might not have enough work to do (which frees him or her up for other green-related tasks!). Another example of saving energy in a green-inspired practice is the Lowry Hotel in Manchester, England. This five-star hotel has installed a "building management system" which automatically turns air conditioners and lights of in parts of the hotel that are empty and unused (Walmsley, p. 84).
Not only does it reduce energy use, the Lowry Hotel's investment in a building management system saves the hotel about $55,000 annually -- and moreover, the Lowry is reducing its carbon emissions by 350 Tons a year, Walmsley explains (p. 84). Another hotel that is using green strategies to reduce greenhouse gases is the Strattons Hotel in Norfolk, UK. This is a boutique hotel that offers a 10% discount to guests if they arrive by public transportation (in other words, they don't show up in a rental car or their own car). The staff at the Strattons received bonuses related to their environmental performances.
The Ontario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association believes that when energy efficiency is truly practiced in hotels by using green technologies and equipment, there can be a savings of 20% in energy costs (Walmsley, p. 84). Motel 6, the largest chain in North America, is redesigning their rooms using fluorescent lighting and "wood-effect flooring made from unused industry scraps" (Walmsley, 85). Motel 6 is also installing solar panels on the rooftops of their motels, and installing "high efficiency laundry equipment," Walmsley explains.
In conclusion, the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to investing in energy-saving strategies and green policies in hotels. Probably the most practical eco-friendly plan that this paper has reviewed is the idea of printed towel rack hangers and sheet-changing cards that guests can put on their pillows, letting the attendants know they don't need their sheets changes. Some of the other ideas suggested and reported in this paper are far too expensive for a small hotel or for a hotel that is already undergoing infrastructure renovation; for example, installing a building management system like the Lowry Hotel did would be financially prohibitive for many hotels. However, putting in place options that people can use like asking that attendants not change the sheets saves detergent, water, electricity -- and helps the hotel be environmentally responsible as well as saving the hotel money.
Albright, Evan. The Book on Going Green. Raleigh, NC: LuLu.com. 2008.
Fostering Sustainable Behavior. "Energy and Water Reduction: 'Green' Hotels." Retrieved