Greenwashing Hotels

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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.

Jacob Fischer

8 thoughts on “Greenwashing Hotels

  1. I recent;y went to a hotel and noticed they had what they called a ‘green remote’ it had it’s own little cardboard pedestal that it rested in. I was curious as to just how a remote could be green to I picked up the little origami-ed cardboard and began reading only to find out that it was easy to clean making it green by saving on cleaning product. Somehow that’s allowed. That is a full blown product by some company calling itself green because you might theoretically be able to use less cleaning solution on a remote. Hotels are always playing this kind of game. How green can we seem without actually doing anything.

    Dylan Nourse


  2. I completely forgot how hotels participate in “save our planet” or greenwashing. Almost everything seems to be participating in the greenwashing stigma.

    Tarah Klenk


  3. that is kinda sleazy that hotels do this. Hiding frugality behind trying to be green. I think what is really wrong is that they charge you more for green products that aren’t even green. They are really just taking advantage of their customers. Maybe if the customers didn’t use the laundry service, or used less energy during their stay, they can pass on those savings to the customer

    Tom walters


  4. I think that turning off the lights and reusing towels is being somewhat green. I don’t think that the hotels should say they are green because of it. I don’t think I have ever seen a way to pay for a “green” hotel, but I now know to never waste my money on it.


  5. I currently work at a hotel and the whole going green thing is advertised to make the hotel seem somewhat better, we can have reuse towels and things in that such but as soon as a guest request for room service, by health codes and regulations we have to talk all those towels and wash clothes used or unused and wash them all. SO in all, there isn’t a huge difference of “going green” and reusing towels and wash clothes.

    Shayla Ford


  6. This is such an interesting idea to bring up. I always think of this when I go to hotels. The amount of money the hotels are saving is huge but the actual impact they are making is minimal at best.


  7. I did my paper on greenwashing and there are a ton of examples like this. Where companies appear to be green while actually just cutting costs. While there is an ulterior motive I’m still not convinced its that bad. These things do actually help the environment, and could encourage people to do these rituals at home. Maybe with the continued support of greening/ people being aware of the ulterior motives, it could create more positive steps that aren’t just cost effective.

    Katie McNulty


  8. This was a very good example of greenwashing. I did not think about why hotels truly all are leaning and hopping on the “green” bandwagon. It all makes a lot more sense now, and I agree with you that most of the tactics they employ for this are just ways to cut costs and save money on their end.

    Kelly Woodward


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