Liz Knowles

Hotels are resource-hungry institutions. Sheets and towels must be laundered and rooms must be cleaned after every guest’s stay and a tremendous amount of electricity, water, and heat/AC must be employed to keep the buildings usable, comfortable and safe at all hours. Here are the things you can do as an individual:

  • Room Cleaning. If you are staying more than one night, put the do-not-disturb sign up so as to save the resources needed for laundry and cleaning. If, for whatever reason, the cleaning staff does not honor the placement of this sign on the door, let someone at management know. 

  • Complimentary water bottles. I know they are free—and it goes against the musician code of frugality and necessity—but consider not using any plastic bottles, free or otherwise.  

  • Shower time. For touring artists, a long hot shower helps relieve aching muscles, revives you after a long travel day and, sometimes, serves as a treat for a weary traveler. Conserve water by not letting the shower run unnecessarily.

  • Lights out. This is kind of a no-brainer. Hopefully you already do this at home.

  • Reuse. Reuse the food container you brought from home as a cereal bowl at a hotel breakfast instead of the plasticware offered. Use it as a to-go box from a restaurant. 

  • Recycle. If plastic or paper cups are provided for coffee or tea in the room, reuse them if possible and, of course, recycle. Avoid styrofoam!  (UPDATE from THE ROAD from Brittany Haas: Hotels often don't have recycling bins in the rooms, but usually if you ask them to recycle at the desk they will. Otherwise pack it out til you can find a recycling receptacle.)

  • Think of the packaging. If the recyclable cups mentioned above are wrapped in plastic, ask for a real coffee cup from the staff. Bring your own shampoo and soap. Skip all of the little plastic packages! (UPDATE from THE ROAD from Brittany Haas: I travel with a ziploc bag in with my toiletries, so when there is a nice hotel bar of soap—the ones that come in cardboard boxes instead of plastic wrappers—I use it and then put it in my soap bag. As for the trash bags in the room: If you throw something in the trash while you're staying there, they will have to remove the whole bag and put in a new one for the next guest. If you create any trash, leave it on the desk or counter in the room or—and this is preferable—bring it out to a trash can in the hall.)

  • Go for the drip. Drip coffee in the lobby vs. Keurig-like machines in the room. An obvious choice if you are thinking about packaging and, sometimes, taste! 

  • Heat and AC. Heat and AC can be modified within comfortable ranges in order to conserve energy. Most hotels these days don't have windows that open but if they do, fresh air can be a really nice thing (especially if you are like me and hate that sometimes toxic cleanser smell that comes with a freshly made hotel room). Most hotels have a heavy curtain behind a regular curtain to provide privacy and security; closing it will block the sun and reduce heat in the summer.

    Thanks to Brittany Haas for her updates from the road!

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