Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Save the World...Or At Least Iowa

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to visit Iowa for a family graduation. While it was personal and not business, I was unable to take off my sustainable meeting professional hat and feel compelled to file this report:

The hotel we chose is part of a large chain constantly touting its environmental commitment. At the front desk, I asked about their environmental practices and my question was met with a row of blank stares and shoulder shrugging. Up in the sleeping room, there was no towel/sheet reuse program, no recycling and no compact fluorescent light bulbs. There were, however, Styrofoam cups (wrapped in plastic) with plastic stir sticks and lids for my coffee. The staff kept asking me to fill out the guest comment card and I happily obliged with ideas on how they might be more sustainable…as already advertised, but not practiced.

Speaking of Styrofoam, all of the restaurants we visited offered polystyrene either for eating there or for items to be taken home. In fact, my personal favorite was the deli which used oblong Styrofoam containers for their submarine sandwiches. All treehugging aside, doesn’t paper actually do a better job of keeping the sandwich together?

Anyway, I am confessing here and now that I had to accept some of these meals and also had to throw the containers away. I’m sorry, I was hungry. If you know of a Styrofoam Offset Program, I would be happy to contribute with the hope the local restaurants and hotels could use the money to get started implementing greener practices.
My intention isn’t to call out Iowa or its citizens (they are not the only folks still maintaining outdated practices). My intention is to remind those of us living and breathing sustainable hospitality, we still have work to do.

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