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Op-Ed: I Don’t Want to Reuse My Towels

At home, I have to descend five flights of stairs to launder my clothes in the predecessor of the modern washing machine. I share this car-size, steam-powered relic with two buildings of more than 20 apartments. The washing machine is empty and available for use only in the dead of night, when the moon is in waxing crescent and blind mud people have ascended from the sewer drains. Under the circumstances, I reuse my towels at home a lot.

So I love the freshly cleaned towels available in hotel bathrooms. A hotel stay gives me the chance to live the life of a person with an exclusive washer and dryer hookup. It’s wonderful to dry off with a towel that isn’t covered with eye makeup. And the fresh laundry scent provides an agreeable start to my morning. Snuggle Bear doesn’t lie.

Meanwhile, that pious “Save Our Planet” sign warning of the “millions of gallons of water used to wash towels that have only been used once” swings on the rack in the hotel bathroom, inciting my guilt as I toss my wet towel on the floor. The sign is right, after all.

In Seven Travel Sins You Should Avoid, SmarterTravel editor Caroline Morse advises, “Traveling by plane or car unfortunately takes a toll on the environment. Make up for a little bit of that by reusing your towels during your hotel stay, instead of tossing them on the floor after every shower. You’ll help the environment by saving water and energy, and you’ll be giving your housekeeper a hand by making his or her job slightly easier.”

Travelers should always keep conscious of how our actions affect the environment and other people. Like most individuals, I care enough about the environment to make eco-friendly choices in my day-to-day existence. But it’s not so bad to indulge a little when on vacation, especially if one makes a point to compensate for the cost in energy and water. If I make up for my fresh-towel habit by conserving resources in other ways, I think getting just-cleaned bath towels when I’m on the road now and then is acceptable. It’s like the carbon-credit system on a much smaller scale.

What’s your opinion? 

(Photo: Hotel Towels via Shutterstock)

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