[Below is the original script. But a few changes may have been made during the recording of this audio podcast.]
When you last stayed in a hotel room, did you have the towels replaced after every shower?
Your behavior may have been influenced by the message the hotel used to explain how having to wash more towels harms the environment.
A study to be published in the October Journal of Consumer Research found messages highlighting environmental impact are not as successful as those focusing on the actions of fellow guests.
They studied the effects of alternate cards placed in hotel rooms. Some guests saw those that read, "Help Save the Environment," others, "Join Your Fellow Guests in Helping to Save the Environment."
It was the latter, implying other guests were cooperating, that led to an increase in reusing towels—from 35 to 44 percent.
Researchers were able to further boost participation with a more specific message: Seventy-five percent of guests in this room reused their towels.
The authors note: more than three quarters of Americans consider themselves environmentalists, but the effective message reminded individuals to how the majority behaves, regardless of principles.
At least this is progress—remember when hotels were only concerned with preventing guests from stealing towels?
- Christie Nicholson