If you consider how much use they get, and how many washings they go through, it’s easy to realize that linens wear out and need to be replaced much more often than the ones we use at home.
But did you ever wonder what they do with those old towels and sheets that they can’t use in the rooms anymore? I did. So I did some research to find out…
People who work in housekeeping are constantly on the lookout for linens that have seen better days and need to be taken out of regular room use at the hotel. What happens after that really depends on the establishment:
- If the towels or sheets are still in reasonable condition, some hotels donate them to thrift stores, homeless shelters or similar charities
- If the towels have big stains or holes, some places donate them to animal hospitals, the Humane Society, etc, (sick or abandoned animals don’t mind if there are mascara stains that just won’t wash out)
- Other hotels take badly stained (but otherwise OK – not threadbare) towels, dye them, and use them as their pool towels.
- If a towel is too shabby, they’re sometimes cut into rag-sized pieces so housekeeping can use them for cleaning rooms.
- 100% cotton sheets and towels (without any synthetic fiber) can be composted, and there are companies that take fabric scraps for recycling.
- Alibaba and other companies in China sell used hotel towels, as does this place in Maryland. I don’t know what hotel is selling their old towels to these places (or who is buying them, for that matter), but there ya go…
- In NYC, donateNYC matches up people who want to donate bulk items (such as hotel towels and sheets) to places that accept such items.
- Westin turns old or damaged hotel linens into pajamas and donates them to children in need. They also sell the pajamas on their website and a portion of the proceeds are donated to Delivering Good, a non-profit organization with a mission of giving every child the opportunity to “sleep well.” It’s the first large scale textile upcycling program in the hotel industry.
So there you go. Lots of different options, depending on the location.
The EPA said in 2015 that 6.1% of what’s in our landfills are textiles; I’m hoping that more hotels, particularly major hotel chains, start doing what Westin is. I mean, it keeps the sheets and towels out of the landfills AND gives pajamas to children in need – win/win, no?
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