How Hotel Laundry Impacts the Environment and What You Can Do to Change That
When it comes to enacting change for the benefit of the environment, there’s a problem called the “attitude-behavior gap.” Basically, it’s the difference between thinking something is a good idea and volunteering to do it yourself. It’s the reason we see studies with results that tell us 63% of people in the U.S. are concerned about climate change, but only 47% think the government should do anything about it.
There are also studies that show people who take small actions toward environmental living in their own lives are less inclined to support larger, more widespread actions.
This phenomenon isn’t limited to individuals. Even in an industry like hospitality, where we know there is a large amount of waste and a calculable impact on the environment, it’s hard to know what sort of difference a single hotel can make—and that can discourage owners and managers from taking action.
There are, however, some very compelling reasons to make that change in your hotel laundry operation and to believe that change will impact the industry overall.
The Numbers on Hotel Laundry
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the commercial and institutional sector is responsible for about 17% of U.S. fresh water withdrawals. Hotels and other lodgings are responsible for about 15% of that usage.
While hotels certainly use that water for more than laundry, laundry does account for about 16% of a hotel’s water usage—the same percentage as landscaping, which is often one of the first things cut during a water shortage.
But how much water is that really?
On average, U.S. hotels use 25 gallons of water per room per day for laundry. There are about 4,926,543 hotel rooms in the U.S. alone. They’re not all full all the time, of course, so if we assume an average of 65% occupancy, that’s 2,401,689,713 gallons of water each month.
And that’s just in the U.S.
What Individual Hotels Can Do to Support Conservation
Even small changes can have a measurable impact on the amount of water your hotel is using on a daily basis. The American Hotel and Lodging Association estimates even just asking guests to reuse towels can reduce the number of loads of laundry washed by 17%.
But there’s so much more hotels can do to promote water conservation. By updating your laundry room to near-waterless washers, a single hotel can save hundreds of thousands of gallons of water each year (not to mention quite a lot of money).
That’s a measurable change, and just from one hotel.
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