Let’s wage a debate where the arguments “against” easily beat the arguments “for”, but we’re so stubbornly “for” we wage the debate anyway. Sound like politics? Not today. Race relations? No way, José. Pepsi vs. Coke? Maybe another time. Today we’re putting a much hotter topic on the table: shampoo. More specifically, hotel shampoo.
Last weekend my family and I stayed at a Fairfield Inn – a low-end entrée on the Marriott hotel menu. Fairfield’s are fine by us – clean and basic overnight accommodations, (with a free breakfast that actually digests). In this instance, we entered the lobby to the smell of freshly-baked help-yourself chocolate-chip cookies. That was a nice surprise. After check-in, we made our way around the corner to the elevators, and on up to our third-floor rooms.
Let’s pause here for a quick survey. What’s the first thing you do when you enter a hotel room – check out the view? Channel-surf the TV? Flop on the bed? Not me. I head to the bathroom to check out the small “freebies” on the counter. Chances are I’ll find (at a minimum) soap for the sink, soap for the shower, boxed tissues, makeup-remover wipes, and maybe even a tiny cloth to polish shoes. Also for the taking: shampoo, conditioner, and body-wash bottles, lined up like little dominoes just waiting to take the plunge into the nearby shower. But guess what? Those little soldiers of sanitation are about to go MIA.
In the next few months, according to a Wall Street Journal article, many of America’s hotel bathrooms will drop “little bottles” in favor of shower-wall bulk dispensers. In today’s environmentally-conscious world, you have to wonder why it hasn’t happened sooner. Consider the arguments against these little grime-fighting gunners. They create tons upon tons of plastic waste. They get thrown away half-full – so effectively waste on top of waste. The moment you need them is the moment you’re already wet in the shower (and they’re still over on the counter). Finally, for anyone who requires reading glasses – hello, me – little bottle labels are impossible to decipher while you’re standing under shower spray. Raise your hand if you’ve ever put body wash in your hair.
More arguments against. Bulk dispensers keep the shampoo in the hotel and the bottles out of the landfills. They give you as much or as little product as you need. Bulk dispensers can easily be refilled by housekeeping (though picture the short-straw employee who has to decant the contents of the leftover bottles into the dispensers). Finally, bulk dispensers eliminate five billion little bottles a year. Okay, that last argument is pretty much the only one you need. And yet…
This change brings me pain. Staying at hotels won’t be the same without my wee wardens of wash. My singular argument for? I’m all about personal touch; the little things that make you go, “wow, I feel special”. Those little heroes of hygiene do that for me. So do chocolate-chip cookies.
To add fuel to the fire, I expect hotels to eventually remove everything else from the bathroom counter. You’ll find nothing but a faucet, towels, and TP. While they’re at it, they’ll eliminate the logo pens, the paper pads, the stationery, and even the bedside clock-radio’s. Cleanse the room of anything moveable. Why do this? Because hotels know they can condition you to bring your own stuff. And before you say, “Dave, that’s a stretch”, consider the airlines. It wasn’t that long ago the ticket agent checked you in, printed your boarding pass, and slapped the luggage tag on your suitcase. Pretty soon you’ll be flying the plane.
Truthfully, I can do without my little defenders of disinfection, as long as hotels don’t take away my elbow room. But that’s already happening, isn’t it? Blame Japan for the “little room” concept. America is now a breeding ground for “capsule hotels”. Capsules give you nothing more than a bed-closet and a down-the-hall community bathroom. They’re described as “cheap, basic, overnight accommodations”. Wait, wait, wait – isn’t that the same definition I gave our Fairfield Inn? One of these days someone will say to me, “Wow, the Fairfield. Y’all stay nice.”
In the meantime, rest in peace little marines of clean. Your work is done. Time for the big boys to take over.