Updated: Nov 11, 2019
Guest Blogger: Tammy Hermanson owner of Tammy Hermanson Travel who has been in the travel industry for 20 years. She is a GenXer living in Madison, Wisconsin.
I have been in the travel industry for over 20 years and have seen things change from one extreme to another. Two of the biggest environmental issues I’ve encountered over the years at many all-inclusive resorts in tropical destinations are plastic water bottles and laundry.
Bottled water. We all know the old adage for Mexico – "don’t drink the water". So how do they combat that? - Plastic bottled water. Despite all resorts having their own purified water systems on site, people are still nervous. So you have bottled water available throughout the resorts. They are everywhere and all end up in the same place, a landfill. I recently saw and article that stated this: "Bottled water companies do not supply water, they supply plastic bottles."
Many companies have tried to change to bottles made from recycled materials, one step in the right direction. The bigger step would be changing over to water stations. Purified systems at each of the resorts are well maintained so it makes the water supply at the resort safe for consumption. You aren’t going to get sick from brushing your teeth or drinking the water they serve at the restaurants.
The trend I have been reading more and more are resorts that are eliminating bottled water and having water stations throughout the resort. Guests can refill their own travel mug whenever they want. Iberostar Resorts has pledged to be completely free of single use plastics by 2020; I hope other resort chains follow suit!
Laundry. When I first started traveling it never occurred to me to reuse towels. I would use one and toss it on the floor to be washed. Sheets, of course, change them. Times have changed. Hotels are now asking guests to re-use towels, the universal sign: hang it up if you will re-use it. They also have cards in the room that you can set on the bed if you want your sheets changed. Here is the problem with the towels: housekeeping didn’t get the message that corporate is trying to push. I cannot tell you how many times I have hung up towels and wash-cloths fully intending to use them again but return to find housekeeping has replaced everything with clean fresh linens. I think that corporate needs to meet with everyone when trying to get this point across.
Here is my advice for your future travels:
1. Take a travel mug or two with you. They don’t take up much space and for every time you refill it that’s one less bottle in a landfill. One by one we can all make a difference.
2. Talk to the housekeeping staff at your next hotel stay. Tell them you will reuse your towels and that they can be replaced every other day. Conserving water is one thing but also lessening the use of powerful cleaning detergents is good for the skin.
3. Be sure to use a travel agent. We are not extinct and we are a benefit to your entire travel experience!