Why Some Hotels Are Recycling a Surprising Item

Author: David McMillin       

When guests check in to hotels, they’re typically greeted by opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint — in-room recycling bins, the option to reuse their towels, and more. On Aug. 25, Element Hotels invited guests to extend their eco-friendly efforts by donating an unlikely item: their clothes. It was part of Element Exchange, a program to celebrate National Secondhand Wardrobe Day. All of the Marriott brand’s 65 North American properties used their public spaces to help educate hotel guests on the benefits of swapping — instead of shopping — for clothing. While you might expect travelers to return home with the clothes they packed for their trips, Marlon Whyte, global brand leader of Element Hotels, said that the opposite is true.

“Clothes are one of the most frequent items purposefully left behind in hotel rooms,” Whyte said in a statement. “The Element Exchange helps to limit the huge environmental impact of fashion sustainability by giving guests and locals in our vibrant communities the option to exchange or recycle clothing and offset their carbon footprint.”

The Element Boston Seaport’s event combined fashion with more traditional tastes, pairing sustainably sourced food and organic wine with a shopping and swapping experience. Donations went to Ministry of Supply, which helps underprivileged young adults in the area find clothes for job interviews and work environments. The celebration of National Secondhand Wardrobe Day wasn’t restricted to Element properties, though. Charlotte Henley, global PR manager, distinctive select service brands, Marriott, told PCMA that the Aloft Seattle Redmond partnered with its local Goodwill to donate more than 200 items of clothing for a swap shop.

Conferences Can Redirect Clothing Waste, Too

Throwing away clothing is creating a serious challenge for the planet, and hoteliers won’t be able to solve it alone. The Environmental Protection Agency’s figures show that 13 million tons of discarded textiles are sent to landfills each year. If your organization is searching for a way to help send those secondhand clothes to someone in need, consider one of these charities.

Has your meeting or conference partnered with any organizations for shoes or clothing donations? Go to Catalyst to share your thoughts and give your peers an idea for making a bigger impact.

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