Nowadays “greenwashing” is a popular term. We are aware of companies such as BP Oil and many others being accused of greenwashing, claiming eco-consciousness or launching products and services that are less than legitimately green. But few people know that the term was originally coined to criticize hotels that encouraged guests to reuse towels for environmental reasons but made little or no effort to recycle waste: “Dear Guest…Save the planet! Keep your towels…” Meanwhile, the unaware housekeeping department was flushing the toilet four times or leaving the faucet running while cleaning a room. Jay Westerveld, an environmentalist who accused hotels of these practices, coined the term in 1986.
Believe it or not, nearly 30 years later, most hotels around the world are still doing the same thing: urging guests to save the planet by reusing their towels while applying unsustainable practices in their operations. No wonder why consumers are the first to be skeptical about hotels claiming sustainability practices. This is because, as John Grant stated in his book, The Green Manifesto, green marketing is a principle, not a proposition. It’s not what you say you believe in, it is what you show that you do that counts. Sustainability is transforming the way companies operate. The current trend is to integrate sustainability into all company activities. “Formerly, sustainability was a department, one that gathered information, reported internally and externally and thus policed those activities of the company. Now, sustainability is thought of as a mindset and a set of tough principles, which everyone in the company should use in its daily work”.