© 2012 Keith McWalter
Dear Hotel Management:
I am in receipt of your request, left in the bathroom of my none too spacious quarters, to help you save the planet. I’m always eager, if not always prepared, to save the planet, especially when traveling on business, and so read your message with great interest. As a long-time member of your Frequent Stayer Club™, I must say I’m a little disappointed.
First of all, the goal of the actual message seemed far more modest than the aforementioned salvation of the globe promised by its heading. Rather, it asks me to “take part in helping out the environment” – which, you must admit, is a far cry from saving the whole damn planet. I think you’ll have to concede that we could help out the environment a lot and still find the planet in a bit of a pickle – I’m thinking of nuclear war, collisions with asteroids and the like. So the whole premise of “saving the planet” is a bit overblown, don’t you think?
Secondly, I’m not sure I can wholeheartedly agree with all the methods of helping out the environment actually stated in your message – i.e., “to reduce water waste, electricity and the use of chemicals.” Reducing water waste is laudable (I don’t use your bathroom that much anyway), but I don’t want to reduce electricity, as there’s little enough of it in my room as it is. And I wouldn’t have made it through the flight into town or my job interview this morning without the use of chemicals, so leave that one alone.
Finally, to achieve not the promised goal of saving the planet but actually just a reduction in water waste, etc., you offer “the option to decline the daily changing of your linen” by my placing the little message card itself on my pillow. Won’t it confuse the chambermaid when she sees an invitation to save the planet on my pillow? Shouldn’t the card just say “Don’t Change the Sheets”? And why would I want that to happen at these prices?
(This also made me curious about the chemicals we’d be saving if I didn’t have my sheets cleaned. I’d actually find a list of the chemicals you’re using on my sheets quite interesting and useful, and look forward to seeing it in my bathroom on my next visit.)
But my real point is: why stop with mere dirty linen in our mutual quest to save the planet? I’d encourage you to think big! Closing your parking garage in order to promote walking and bicycling would reduce the hotel’s carbon footprint immeasurably. I’ll bet that fancy restaurant of yours produces tons of garbage that has to be hauled out of town on big belching diesel trucks from New Jersey to some smelly, methane-emitting landfill somewhere, which the environment could probably do without, too. Where do all the flat-screen TVs go when they break or get old? I’ll bet nowhere good for the environment. Fewer on-site employees – particularly managers and senior staff who tend to drive rather than take public transport – would return untold dividends in environment-assistance. At the end of the day, it would probably be best, environmentally speaking, just to shut the place down.
Speaking of dividends, let’s turn an environmentally helpful eye on the corporation that owns your hotel. Think of the acres of CO2-absorbing trees that are cut down every year to produce the tons of paper used in your annual reports, proxy statements, office copiers and the like. In fact, isn’t the corporate headquarters sort of like a big hotel, where the employees come to stay every day? Do they launder anything there? I hope not.
Let’s face it, complete liquidation would probably be the most environmentally helpful thing that your corporation could do, don’t you think? Makes not changing my sheets seem like small potatoes.
You could really start a trend with this saving the planet thing. Other companies could liquidate too, government could shrink down to nothing, we could all disperse into the fields and live simple, more fulfilling, environmentally-helpful lives. I could stay in a cave, which come to think of it would be a lot like my hotel room, but without the linen and the guilt. Go for it! The planet will thank you!