DAWSONVILLE, GA.—The easiest way to conserve water is to not use it in the first place. That is the message Project Planet Corp. has been pushing for more than 10 years now through its linen and towel re-use program. With approximately 6,000 hotels around the world participating, the venture has been a tremendous success.
Project Planet was launched in 1995 by John Stanley, president and owner. The three-employee, Dawsonville, Ga.-based company sells door hangers, table brochures, pillow cards, posters, stickers, training videos and guest response cards.
Hotels that participate in the program change bed linens every third day. Guests not wishing to participate place a pillow card on the pillow or a door hanger on the door. In regard to towels, if guests wish to have them laundered, they place them on the floor. Participating hotels reduce water and detergent consumption in the laundry. Less energy is consumed and fewer hours are required to launder the towels and linens.
Karmen Pharris, sales and marketing director for Project Planet Corp., says the program averages a 75 percent guest participation rate. The reason it is not higher is because many guests stay just one night and do not have a chance to participate. Guest approval rate runs 95 percent. Over a month’s period in a 100-room property, the Project Planet program can save 6,000 gallons of water monthly and 40 gallons of detergent.
The cost to start a towel and linen re-use program is minimal. Harris says a 100-room property can get started for as little as $331. Those materials will last from six months to one year. Payback is fast—only about a week is occupancy is 60 percent or higher.
Project Planet’s programs have been endorsed by AH&LA, Choice Hotels International, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Prime Hospitality, and Country Hearth Inn. Project Planet just added Cendant Corp. as an endorsed vendor.
Approximately 1,000 InterContinental Hotels & Resorts properties offer towel and linen re-use options through a program developed by Project Planet for InterContinental’s Conserve for Tomorrow initiative. Other companies such as Intrawest Corp. also participate. Intrawest estimates it is saving more than $1 million and more than 4 million gallons of water annually.
The Piccadilly Inn Airport Hotel in Fresno, Calif., launched its Project Planet towel and linen re-use program on January 1, 2006.
“It was very simple,” says Julie Mayewski, general manager at the 185-room property. “We promoted the program immediately at the front desk and in the guestrooms. Almost immediately the usage was phenomenal. It was in the 70 percent range. We have experienced a significant savings in labor and chemical usage.”
The savings in the laundry department was so dramatic; the facility now closes down for an entire day each week. On the other days, the number of hours in operation also has been reduced.
Pharris says one key to the success of a program like Project Planet is the education of staff. For that reason the organization offers bilingual training videos, posters, cards for the housekeepers’ carts, stickers and other materials to help educate hotel personnel. Letters are sent on a quarterly basis to participating general managers as a reminder to encourage training—a need in an industry with frequent turnover.
Project Planet is a participant in the AH&LA’s Good Earthkeeping Alliance and has developed the Caribbean Hotel Association’s (CHA) Caribbean Cares towel and linen re-use program. Earnings from that program benefit Caribbean Action for Sustainable Tourism, CHA’s environmental arm.
For more information on Project Planet Corp., contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.