Tiny bottles of shampoo and conditioner are disappearing from hotel rooms

Nova Safo Dec 23, 2019
Small plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body lotion sit in a bathroom at a SpringHill Suites, a hotel operated by Marriott, in August in New Orleans. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Tiny bottles of shampoo and conditioner are disappearing from hotel rooms

Nova Safo Dec 23, 2019
Small plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body lotion sit in a bathroom at a SpringHill Suites, a hotel operated by Marriott, in August in New Orleans. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Major hotel chains are promising to get rid of the tiny bottles of personal care products that greet guests on arrival.

“Many people take home the products, but it ends up staying in a drawer,” said Hyatt’s director of environmental affairs Marié Fukudome. 

Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group and Marriott — which together control dozens of hotel brands — will switch to bigger shampoo and conditioner dispensers in an effort to reduce their use of single-use plastics. The changes could potentially keep millions of those little bottles from ending up in landfills or oceans.

Hyatt, the latest to commit, has promised to switch to “large-format bathroom amenities” by no later than June 2021.

“Single-use plastics is on a lot of people’s radars,” said Joanne Hendrickx, founder of Travel Without Plastic, a consultancy that helps hotel companies run sustainability campaigns. 

A 2018 global survey by Nielsen found that 81% of consumers wanted companies to care about their environmental impact. 

“A lot of the tour operators … they’re actually asking that their hotel partners are engaged in sustainability,” Hendrickx said. 

Hotels are also feeling the pressure from businesses that book conferences and meetings. They’re sending questionnaires that probe hotels’ sustainability measures when deciding where to hold their events.

Reducing or eliminating the use of plastic bottles is a visible way of accomplishing that, she said, unlike reducing air conditioning use or food waste, which can prove trickier in an industry that consumers expect to pamper them. 

“Most of the time, when people are in a hotel for leisure and not for business, they want to be treated well. And being treated well seems to equate at the moment to overconsumption,” Hendrickx said. 

But consumers have also been conditioned to think about their consumption. Many hotels now ask guests to consider reusing towels and bed linens to save water. As far back as 2011, the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills got rid of small bottles in favor of reusable, full-sized ones

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