Greenwashing is when a company or organization presents their products as environmentally friendly with vague or false information. In class, we talked about a lot of different products and companies that use greenwashing as a marketing tactic. In today’s society almost all companies use this in some way and hotels are just another industry that has gotten into the greenwashing business. Many of us have probably seen a sign in a hotel bathroom, like the one pictured above, that urges us to reuse our towels rather than throwing them on the floor to be washed everyday, or to turn the lights off when we leave the room to save energy. However, the lodging industry may not be in the greenwashing business to become more environmentally friendly.
If we think about what reusing towels in our hotel rooms and turning off the lights does, it’s that it saves the companies money. Hotels can use less water to wash towel and other linens and lower energy costs by using less electricity for lights. This trend in greenwashing at hotels may be larger than just reusing towels. Some tourists pay extra for certain “green” accommodations in their rooms, but they may not be getting what they paid for. A study by TerraChoice Environmental Marketing found that 99% of all the products labeled as “green” in hotels do not actually live up to this claim. The products are being labeled like this by the hotels themselves many times to appear to be “greener” and attract tourists that want t0 be “green.”
While hotels save by asking guests to reuse their towels, turn off lights and giving them falsely label “green” products, these savings by the hotels are not usually passed off onto the consumers. This shows a few of the seven sins of greenwashing such as the sin of fibbing, the sin of worshiping false labels and the sin of the hidden trade-off. In the end, many hotels claim to be “eco-friendly” and “green,” but most of the tactics they employ for this are just ways to cut costs and save money on their end.