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March 06, 2009

Comments

Of course it's self-serving for the hotels. Why should anyone, even Ms. Pellettieri care? They aren't making her use the same towel or sheets, they're just giving her a chance not to be wasteful. I expect Ms. Pellettieri to force her hotels to waste water and soap from now on, just to get even with them. What a petty little fool.

We have to start using less energy, and since I am not a devotee of self-sacrifice, I am thrilled when someone hits on a cost-free way to use less -- like not washing the sheets and towels of people who don't want their sheets and towels washed.

Agreed. It’s only common sense, but the first time I saw it, I was like Duh – yeah – let the staff know what is dirty and what is not. I always used to fold my dirty towel, hang it up, and make it look nice… There is some kind of guilt associated – you don’t want the cleaning crew to see you are a slob. I know people who have cleaners – and they have to clean top to bottom before the cleaners get there – lest they be thought to be slobs. It was actually quite exhilarating to be told in writing – “throw your dirty towels on the floor”.

What does it cost to launder one of those fluffy towels that I never used? I know you all think my intent is to kill the planet and all humanity – not really.

I agree. If I sleep on the same sheets at home all week, and I am staying at a hotel for three days, why can't I just use the same sheets? Less work for the staff along with less water/soap used, and why would she want to make the staff work harder? Has she ever seen how they hustle and figured out how little they make?

In the luxurious hotel world she imagines where all her needs are met, I sure hope she's tipping the staff.

Oh yeah, and I am not CLEANING before the cleaning person comes, I am picking up. Not the same thing. She can't clean the kitchen counter if she can't find it under a pile of mail!

OCSteve: I never thought any such thing. ;)

Huh, next thing you'll be telling me I don't have to stuff myself with three times as much breakfast as normal, just because it's included in the room rate.

There's something socialistic about this post that I can't quite put my finger on.

Superuser: clean-up on aisle 10:17.

Oh, and, obviously, the essayist is being a total nitwit. It did remind me of a very funny old episode of This American Life, about the notes to hotel management from a traveller who wants to use their own large bar of soap and gets deluged with the hotel's miniature bars of soap, but I've tried a few search terms at their website to no avail. Still, 'twas a funny story.

If *that* harshes her hotel buzz, how does she deal with getting the bill?

What's peeving Ms Pellettieri is a belief that hotels are being dishonest in claiming environmental virtue because they're not suffering for it. There's an underlying theme in the green movement that what's really needed is sacrifice, and green credentials obtained without suitable levels of hair-shirt-wearing are therefore dishonestly earned. Just look at the unease when someone suggests a way of lower CO2 emissions that doesn't involve simply reversing economic growth.

Ummmm Simone do you have some examples of this alleged 'unease' from the 'green movement' (whoever they may be)? Not anecdotes about people you know but hard evidence.

I have a theory about human beings: Our sensitivity to suffering is inversely proportional to the amount of hardship we experience in our daily lives.


"I have a theory about human beings"

Also, mirror neurons. (It's down in the middle.)

More on mirror neurons (again, further down; those were both busy posts, chock full of chewy goodness).

Warren Terra: Snopes has the Shelley Berman routine you're looking for.

I dunno. I'm fairly green, and I hate sacrifice. I'll do it if necessary, but I'd much rather not. Thus this post.

Gary - I should have said "our sensitivity to *our own* suffering". But I have some theories about empathy, too, and they do involve mirror neurons.

Also, since you are hip to the relationship between brain structure, empathy, and morality, why haven't you disabused hilzoy of her crazy moral absolutist notions? ;)

I have to say, Gary - your busy posts are the best ones. It makes sense that you like Charlie Kaufman films - your posts sometimes exhibit that same frenetic flurry of ideas that stop just short of synthesis.


I can't recall who pointed it out (Balloon Juice?) but this is the same reliable vein that Slate always mines: unintelligent contrarianism.

Mickey Kaus is another example of this: the Democrat who's against all things Democratic.

Anyhow ... whatever!

Water, not energy, being the finite resource, if hotel chains were really motivated by environmental (not cost-saving) concerns, they would begin immediately lobbying for the streamlined (e.g. minimally restrictive) permitting of grey-water recycling systems in every American market and install them in every one of their properties. In time, water conservation is likely to trump all other concerns. Until, of course, worldwide desalination of sea water is the standard for human consumption. When that happens, we'll be talking about salt disposal. I suspect there's a Nobel Prize in store for the person (or group) who figures out how to efficiently convert salt to usable energy. Because we'll have it... by the trainload.

Ken, I am not Simone but the mentality of 'it's not green, if it's not inconvenient' is in my opinion still quite common and runs in the same vein as 'good medicine must taste awful'. I also vividly remember the time when eco-friendly clothes were synonymous with uncomfortable and unattractive and recycling paper was catastrophically inferior to 'normal'. A lot has changed on that front but the image still lingers.
I see similarities with certain Christian views: If it's fun, it is most likely sinful.

I missed eco-friendly clothes ... fortunately by the sound of it. I do however use recycled toilet paper and don't understand why others laugh at it. It does the job.

But these aren't examples of 'unease when someone suggests a way of lower CO2 emissions that doesn't involve simply reversing economic growth', which was the statement I took issue with.

umm, xanax, if we're desalting sea water, we really don't need to worry about moving the salts anywhere; we just put a stream of somewhat more saline water back into the sea.

now, desalting recycled water and brackish groundwater is a big deal. as is the energy cost of moving desalinated sea water inland.

Yeah, if you're producing piles of salt as a result of desalting sea water, you're doing it very inefficiently. Might be interested in this, though:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126972.000-salt-solution-cheap-power-from-the-rivers-mouth.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news>Salt Power

I have to admit a certain mild irritation when companies profess noble motives for doing something that saves them money. And I don't MIND reusing a towel, or sleeping on the same sheets several days running. I don't use towels once or change the sheets daily at home, why would I insist on it when traveling?

But, please, they're doing to save money, cut the "socially responsible" crap. Heck, if they WERE doing it to be socially responsible, they'd offer me a discount to encourage me to go along with it, instead of insisting on capturing all the savings themselves.

Brett, next you'll be telling me the teller at my bank doesn't really care if I have a nice day.

Her complaint reminds me of a friend who gets irrationally irritated at the signs at the entrance to a tunnel telling him to take off his sunglasses and turn on his headlights. He somehow thinks they're a symptom of creeping fascism, though he doesn't seem to have many other wingnut tendencies (other than usually voting Republican). I haven't talked to him for a while, so I don't know how he's taking the socialist takeover.

A lot has changed on that front but the image still lingers.

The image still lingers because it's actively promoted by anti-environmentalists who are convinced (or at least want to convince others) that environmentalism is all about people who want to spoil others' fun.

See also the look-what-a-big-house-Al-Gore-has meme.

Like Ken Lovell, I'm still waiting for an example of "unease when someone suggests a way of lower CO2 emissions that doesn't involve simply reversing economic growth," though I suspect that if this subthread continues we'll pretty soon be having a discussion of nuclear power.

The hotel saves money, water and the fuel to heat it aren't wasted, and customers aren't inconvenienced in any way that they care about.

It takes a special person to find that objectionable.

I have to admit a certain mild irritation when companies profess noble motives for doing something that saves them money.

Why?

Who the heck cares if doing something constructive saves somebody else money?

Isn't that, like, the perfect, market-based, no-government-intrusion scenario?

I'd think it was conservative nirvana.

Think 'win/win'. That's what good old Adam Smith would say.

"Also, since you are hip to the relationship between brain structure, empathy, and morality, why haven't you disabused hilzoy of her crazy moral absolutist notions? ;)"

I'm way smart enough to know I'm way too dumb to argue philosophy with Hilzoy. Even if I realized I disagreed.

"I have to say, Gary - your busy posts are the best ones."

Thanks. Unfortunately, those are the ones I have to not be in much pain, and not too depressed, to have the energy to write.

"It makes sense that you like Charlie Kaufman films - your posts sometimes exhibit that same frenetic flurry of ideas that stop just short of synthesis."

If I had to achieve synthesis I'd require even less depression. Besides, I'd like to think my readers are smart enough to do that on their own, and don't need me to pre-chew for them.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

But, please, they're doing to save money, cut the "socially responsible" crap. Heck, if they WERE doing it to be socially responsible, they'd offer me a discount to encourage me to go along with it, instead of insisting on capturing all the savings themselves.

Or they could just charge you extra for extra towels.

Or they could just charge you extra for extra towels.

They could just leave you in an unfurnished room, charging you the bare minimum and then, as you let the front desk know the things you need, they could send them up. In fact, it might resemble this proposal from RyanAir, via Crooked Timber, which includes this excellent observation:

I’ve always thought that the social expectations associated with Ryanair flights are a microcosm for a certain kind of gung-ho libertarian ideal of market society, in which every possible social interaction is conducted through the cash nexus

"They could just leave you in an unfurnished room, charging you the bare minimum and then, as you let the front desk know the things you need, they could send them up."

Yeah, that would be cool: Charge you less for stuff you opt out of, charge you more for things you opt into, six of one, half dozen of the other. What's stupid is expecting people to opt for less, and pay the same.

Brett Bellmore: Yeah, that would be cool: Charge you less for stuff you opt out of, charge you more for things you opt into, six of one, half dozen of the other. What's stupid is expecting people to opt for less, and pay the same.

So, in your opinion, guests would react more positively to being charged extra to have their towels laundered? Were you paying any attention to the widespread complaints when the airlines started adding surcharges for checked bags and in-flight sodas?

When you stay in a hotel, do you use up the whole roll of toilet paper just to maximize the value of your stay?

Don't mean to stage a total threadjack, but this responds to (The Original)Francis @7:12 and to Brett Bellmore @8:29:

Francis - "if we're desalting sea water, we really don't need to worry about moving the salts anywhere; we just put a stream of somewhat more saline water back into the sea."

Take a look here, and here for just two (of many, many) scientific abstracts that all similarly conclude the environmental hazards of returning a concentrated brine stream to the sea, over time, are potentially immense. Here's one:

Desalting processes are normally associated with the rejection of high concentration waste brine from the plant itself or from the pretreatment units as well as during the cleaning period. In thermal processes, mainly multistage flash (MSF) thermal pollution occurs. These pollutants increase the seawater temperature, salinity, water current and turbidity. They also harm the marine environment, causing fish to migrate while enhancing the presence of algae, nematods and tiny molluscus. Sometimes micro-elements and toxic materials appear in the discharged brine.

The other two methods of desal brine (or waste stream) disposal are deep well injection and evaporation ponds. The trainloads of salt I alluded to in my earlier post came from a hydrologist (and international water treatment expert on Slowsand-Nanofiltration) Dr. C. Brent Cluff, Ph.D., who in conversation, told me once if you want to visualize the kind of volumes you'd be dealing with in terms of waste material, if your reject stream disposal method is the evaporation pond, for a city of 250,000 people you'd be producing about a freight train load of salt each week. Brent didn't specify how many cars long that train would be but the heuristic left an impression. Hence the earlier notion of finding a direct energy conversion coefficient for NaCl.

. If the Hotels really want to get serious about the environment and saving money they should add Bathroom Bidet Sprayers to all their rooms. Available at www.bathroomsprayers.com with these they will hardly need to buy toilet paper anymore, the guest can use a towel to dry off. It's cheap and can be installed without a plumber; it runs off the same water line to your toilet. They'll probably pay for it in a few months of toilet paper savings. After using one of these their customers won't know how they lasted all those years with wadded up handfuls of toilet paper. Now we're talking green and helping the environment without any pain.

Jeff - this comment belongs on the Don't Give Away Carbon Permits thread... right next to the CO2 scrubbers argument and the Clean Coal Clean comment.

Early recycling paper was highly inferior and long enough so to leave a general mental connection. Today it's almost impossible to notice any difference except that today most papers (recycled or not) are less bleached. As for the clothes, it was for a long time a trademark of active "Greens" over here to wear a certain type of "alternative" stuff that was (deliberately?) unstylish (including members of parliament with selfknitted* sweaters). At least over here it did not take anti-environmentalists to create and perpetuate that image.

*often produced during sessions of parliament

What's stupid is expecting people to opt for less

"Less"? Are you noticeably less dry or less clean after reusing a towel? If so, by all means take another one. I won't begrudge you the 'extra value' if I reused mine.

"So, in your opinion, guests would react more positively to being charged extra to have their towels laundered? Were you paying any attention to the widespread complaints when the airlines started adding surcharges for checked bags and in-flight sodas?"

I make no claims about the reactions of others. What I am saying is that, if an establishment is going to offer two classes of service, which the customer chooses between, and one class is cheaper to provide than the other, the establishment damned well should charge less for the cheaper service, rather than making up some BS rationale as to why the customer should feel good about paying the same for cheaper service.

The widespread complaints were due to the service being reduced without a corresponding cut in ticket prices. IOW, people were complaining about a fare hike. An airline which provided lousy service in return for cheap tickets would most assuredly have a lot of clients, some of us think flying is expensive, and don't feel this driving need to be fed tiny drinks and lousy food, rather than filling our pockets before the flight.

"When you stay in a hotel, do you use up the whole roll of toilet paper just to maximize the value of your stay?"

Thought I'd already made it clear that I don't expect my towels and sheets changed daily at home OR on the road, (Actually, I appreciate the reduced intrusions by maids!) so what would lead you to think that?

Brett: What I am saying is that, if an establishment is going to offer two classes of service, which the customer chooses between, and one class is cheaper to provide than the other, the establishment damned well should charge less for the cheaper service, rather than making up some BS rationale as to why the customer should feel good about paying the same for cheaper service.

Except... no.

I don't believe it does save the hotel that much money when they don't necessarily wash everyone's towels and sheets daily. They've still got to pay the maid to change the room (and she still has to check to make sure the sheets/towels don't need to be laundered): the laundry costs may be a bit lower. The room still has to be tidied/aired/etc. Labor costs, in other words, are still pretty much the same.

Laundry costs may be lower, but not in any way that would be easier to pass on to individual customers.

In order to charge people less for not asking to have their towels/sheets laundered, the maid would have to keep a checklist - and how would this be counted? If I mess up my handtowel, and throw that in the bath to be washed, how much does that get added to my room bill? Is it more or less if both my towels are messed up and I want them laundered? What about the bath mat? Adding the task of keeping track of which room asked for clean towels and which didn't to the maid's duties means slowing them down, meaning less rooms get done in the time available, meaning costs go up (or the maids are overburdened).

You just haven't thought things through.

Also: it's really not an inferior service if you get to have clean fresh towels whenever you want them - just not if you don't.

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