Tiny signs in hotel bathrooms across the country now urge guests to voluntarily reuse towels in order to "save the environment." While this may (or may not) be sound environmental practice, the main reason hotels have almost universally implemented the policy is to save on laundry costs.
Schools are finally catching on and using the same gambit when it comes to trash disposal—with the added bonus of peer pressure to increase uptake.
This weekend's back-to-school edition of The New York Times tells the story of the death of the baggie, thanks to the no-waste school lunch policies popping up around the country.
Enforcement is tricky...
“We don’t send notes home to parents and say, ‘Listen, this is the third time you’ve brought a Cheeto bag.’ But we help them to understand” why the school has the lunch policy.
...so many schools rely on kids shaming each other to get the job done:
“Ziplocs are the biggest misstep,” said Julie Corbett, a mother in Oakland, Calif., whose two girls attend a school with an eco-friendly lunch policy. In school years past, she said, many a morning came unhinged when the girls were sent to school with disposable sandwich bags.
“That’s when the kids have meltdowns, because they don’t want to be shamed at school,” Ms. Corbett said. “It’s a big deal.”
Unlike hotels, kids and their parents have very little choice about schools. Quite a few parents stuck decanting their kids' Cheetos into hastily-washed, still-damp Tupperware in the bleary morning would likely prefer to pay a trash disposal fee, but that's not on offer.
Schools are selling the program as a cost-saving measure for parents, but the cost in time and trouble may outweigh annual baggie expenditures—at least for some families—and taking away choices on a busy morning isn't exactly a boon. The schools, on the other hand, are saving big bucks on reduced trash collection fees.
At least kids are getting a handy object lesson is concentrated benefits and diffuse costs!