Hotel Chains Eliminating Single Use Plastic Toiletries Is Hypocritical And Bad For Guests

Hotel chains have moved to bulk toiletries, often mounted on the wall in the shower, because it’s cheaper than giving each guest mini bottles. And they tell you it’s better for the environment because they’re throwing away less plastic. Top luxury hotels frequently still offer individual toiletries, however, because the bulk approach has problems.

  • Bottles don’t get refilled properly and when they do get refilled hotels are more likely to use counterfeit products.
  • They’re germ magnets. They simply aren’t sanitized by housekeeping. Here’s a National Institutes of Health study on bacterial contamination of bulk-soap-refillable dispensers.
  • And guests have been known to put stuff in them you wouldn’t want there. Even where there have been safeguarding locks in place I’ve had rooms where those weren’t locked.

One reader points out the hypocrisy in the environmental claim that hotels are dropping individual toiletries to get ride of plastics from their room at a Sheraton, sharing the photos of individual use plastics.

Here’s the bulk hand wash and lotion in their bathroom, right next to disposable plastic cups.

And there are plastic water bottles and more plastic-covered plastic cups in the room, too.

He points out this is a broader travel industry trend, and extends beyond hotels. Delta Air Lines eliminated plastic forks and spoons in use during the pandemic. And instead of bringing back reusable metal, they moved to disposable wood ‘to reduce plastics’ – though they’ve moved to use of plastic cups. They also dropped plastic wine bottles in favor of wine in cans – though longer flights in premium cabins still have metal flatware and wine in bottles so their so-called ‘concern for environment’ only goes so far. They make cuts to the passenger experience, using the fig leaf of environmental concern, in much the way that hotels do.

If hotels cared about guest experience and the environment they would stick with single use biodegradable packages, rather than large plastic bottles shared between guests.

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