Travel size toiletries – Luxury, convenience, and plastic pollution at the same time
Although you can carry your own toiletries during travelling, mini size guest amenities will delight you when you arrive at a hotel. However, while making guests’ lives easier, those hotel bathroom amenities have also become a burden for our environment. Every day, millions of soap bars and bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and moisturizers are used in hotels around the world. Only 15 percent of those products are used, and they are then sent off to landfill with left over inside the bottles. The top 300 hotels groups in the world alone dispose of an estimated 5.5 billion amenity bottles and caps every year.
The plastic waste is not only a problem of landfill and ocean pollution, but it translates to higher garbage removal costs for the hotels and makes it difficult for them to meet environmental standards that their guests are now expecting.
Recent actions taken
Authorities in Bali, Indonesia declared a garbage emergency because of the
amount of plastic washing up on a nearly 4-mile stretch of beach on the island’s west coast.
California in the US enacted a law banning single-use plastic bottles smaller than 12oz.
Hilton hotel partnerships with social enterprise to recycle used hotel soap.
Many International Hotel chains have switched to re-fillable bulk size bottles that are shared by their guests.
What hotels can do?
- Provide solid products that do not require plastic packaging
Consumers are becoming more aware of environmental issues, and many have switched from liquid personal care products to solid products. There are single-use size products come with no plastic and compostable packaging. The challenge is how easy the products are to use for consumers who are not familiar with this type of products. Also, many consumers still believe that liquid products perform better on the skin and hair.
- Re-fillable dispenser bottles
A number of top cosmetic brands are now providing re-fillable bottles with refill package. This could reduce some of plastic wastes, but only limited amount. The refill package or large bulk containers are still made with plastic. The challenges are extra workload for housekeepers to refill bottles and how to manage hygiene. Also, many guests still feel a loss of luxury experience.
- Goodie Bag
“Goodie Bag” is a pouch that a guest can pack their used toiletries and take to home. Guests are responsible to finish the products and recycle the packages. The challenge with this is obviously the extra tasks guests have to complete to make this work.
If the materials of the products are recyclable, they can be collected and taken to the recycling facility. Soaps can be also recycled. However, there is extra cost for recycling and the question is whether recycling activity is sustainable.
What guests can do?
- Do not waste
If you decided to use mini size hotel amenities, try finish them or take with you and dispose the packages correctly.
- Bring your own
Pack a small portion of your own toiletries in re-fillable storages. Make sure to take the bottles or jars with you.
We are still at the beginning of changes, and there are still many challenges. Especially packaging for liquid products is still heavily relied on plastic materials and many of them end up in the landfill or ocean. We need to work all together and make a small consistently to achieve a bigger change on our environment.