Holiday Waste

By August 8, 2019Opinions

Having just returned from a lovely break in Mallorca it seemed prudent to write a blog about my time there – but most specifically with reference to the  holiday waste.


This is a subject that makes me cross almost everywhere I go.  Almost without exception there is a leaflet, label or booklet telling me:

“Dear Guest,

Every day tonnes of detergent and millions of gallons of water are used to wash towels that have only been used once.

A towel on the rack means “I’ll use it again”, a towel on the floor means “Please change””

So, very often I put the towels back on the rack – I certainly don’t change my towels daily at home. But, almost without exception, I come back to the room after housekeeping has been in, and – you’ve guessed it – I have fresh towels!

And then, on top of this was the constant supply of beach towels – which you could happily change every 10 minutes if you so chose!


Well no blog on holiday waste would be complete without a paragraph or two on plastic straws. Whilst there seems to have been rather a tide change in the UK regarding the use of plastic straws, with the likes of McDonalds, Wetherspoons, Nando’s, etc. moving away from plastic straws to paper straws – the change does not seem to have reached others … certainly not where I was staying.  And generally, two straws per glass, to boot.

When I remembered to ask for no straw, I was a tad too late and because the straw had touched my drink it was just put straight in the bin – and not the recycling bin either. I think the bat man thought that I just didn’t like straws. There were no signs that showed that he realised that I may have been doing it for environmental protection reasons.


Within my (very swanky) hotel and its grounds there were no recycling bins or facilities available.  I did go to reception to explain that I had segregated my recycling waste from the general waste in the room. Because it was late at night, she explained that there was no one from housekeeping to collect it.  As such, I left a note attached to the recycling element asking them to “Recicla por favour” (using my best Spanish knowledge, aka Google). The truth is – I very much doubt that my little collection of plastic bottles, drinks cans, cardboard packaging and paperwork ever made it to a recycling bin.

Single use bottles

Why, oh why, do hotels insist of small single use bottle for their toiletries.  In the communal spaces they had the same – very nice – soap in a dispenser. Still plastic and still single use (although I’m sure a nice sophisticated re-usable option is out there somewhere) but so much bigger with considerably less waste, therefore.  I would be (and have been) perfectly happy to use toiletries from a dispenser – especially when I can see that the product is clearly still the quality brand that would otherwise be used (Elemis offer this option).


Well there is the obvious and disgraceful waste of food here. At the end of the allotted time for breakfast we watch plates of (good quality) food being dumped into a bin.  I am no catering expert and I am sure that it is very difficult to manage quantities – but….

And then – why did I see single use plastic spoons near the jams, when there were metal spoons all around the restaurant. Why were some of the cakes and pastries placed on small black plastic trays. I’m sure it was to make the items look more “premium”, but it certainly didn’t make them taste and better.  They were delicious whether on a white plate or a black plastic atop a white plate.

Holiday Waste

Without doubt, there is a lot of room for improvement in cutting down holiday waste.  As consumers we need to remember the first of the four recycling R’s REFUSE, reduce, reuse, recycle.  But then when we give the signals, hotels and restaurants need to heed those signals and act upon them.

To understand more about the recycling process for certain plastics, visit