Tiny Toiletries Are Starting to Check Out of Hotel Chains

pierivb/iStock via Getty Images
pierivb/iStock via Getty Images

Embarking on a trip guarantees a few things. Your airplane cabin is likely to be cramped, you’ll probably get lost at least once, and your hotel room bathroom will be stocked to the brim with tiny complimentary bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and other amenities.

But if the policy of a major hotel chain catches on, those goods may soon be gone.

Last week, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) announced that it would be banning the distribution of these “bathroom miniatures” in all 5600-plus of its hotels in 2021. That would mean 843,000 guest rooms under brands like Holiday Inn will no longer carry elf-sized personal care items. The decision is part of an effort to reduce the use of plastics, a movement that has seen plastic straw bans in restaurant chains and in cities like Seattle. IHG said the new policy will spare more than 200 million bottles annually.

IHG isn’t the only chain with an environmental bent. In 2018, Marriott announced they would be taking bottles out of 450 locations, eliminating 10.3 million of them annually.

What will guests get instead? IHG will use bulk products in refillable dispensers, similar to what you might see in public bathrooms that are either wall-mounted or freestanding.

While IHG is taking the initiative, it’s possible the prohibition on the bottles could become state law—at least in California. The state is reviewing Assembly Bill 1162, which passed the state's Assembly in May and would see plastic bottles banned in all hotels located there. The bill, which could be enacted in 2023, would still allow for hotel management to provide bottles to guests upon request.

[h/t New York Times]

New Time-Lapse Shows the Threat Meltwater Lakes Pose to Greenland’s Glaciers

Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

A historic amount of ice has disappeared from Greenland's glaciers in recent years. During this summer's heat wave in Europe, which scientists linked to climate change, the Greenland ice sheet melted at a rate of up to billions of tons of ice per day. The phenomenon was part of a trend: The previous summer, the Arctic sea ice near northern Greenland broke up for the first time ever. Now, newly published time-lapse footage illuminates another aspect of the dire situation.

As Live Science reports, a British team of scientists captured this video of the Store Glacier in western Greenland on July 7, 2018. It shows a lake of meltwater on the ice rapidly draining in a span of hours. When cracks form on glaciers in the summer, they fill up with water, creating massive, temporary lakes. These meltwater lakes become a problem when the water drains deep into the glacier, where it can damage the base and dislodge ice chunks into the ocean. Melting ice that drifts out to sea is one of the driving forces behind rising sea levels.

In a paper published this month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers report that the lake captured in the video flushed more than 1.26 billion gallons of water—the equivalent of 2000 Olympic-size swimming pools, notes Live Science—toward Store Glacier's base even without fully draining. This shows that meltwater lakes that don't drain completely should still be treated as serious threats to ice sheets.

You can check out the complete time-lapse from their study below.

[h/t Live Science]

10 Simple Ways to Waste Less This Holiday Season

iStock.com/Allkindza
iStock.com/Allkindza

According to Washington University in St. Louis, “Americans throw away 25 percent more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday season than any other time of year. This extra garbage amounts to 25 million tons of trash.” Here are a few everyday ideas for reducing waste.

1. Use reusable bags when shopping.


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Before you hit the mall or begin shopping for your holiday groceries, remember to bring along a reusable bag or three. Plastic bags are petroleum-based products and—let's face it—few of us use them more than once, and many end up in our oceans. Make bringing a bag a habit.

2. Send Christmas cards judiciously.


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According to Washington University, the “2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 [stories] high.” Of course, your grandmother will be delighted to receive a handwritten note—and so may plenty of your friends—so feel free to mail away! But be honest with yourself: If there’s anybody on your list who is probably going to toss your thoughtful note into the trash five minutes later, just send them a digital greeting.

3. Buy light strands that are wired in parallel.

Red and white lights on a Christmas tree.
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Few things are more annoying than watching the whole strand of Christmas lights go dark just because of one cruddy bulb. According to the EPA, strands that are wired in parallel will still work if a bulb bursts, “so you won’t be throwing away ‘bad’ strands.” And if you’re the type of person who worries constantly about whether you turned the lights off, put your displays on a timer: It saves energy, money, and worry.

4. Skip the Secret Santa if you don’t know the people well.

A wrapped present on a desk with a tag that reads "Secret Santa."
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We don’t want to sound like Scrooges here. A gift exchange with your colleagues or acquaintances can be a delightful way to get to know people better. But let’s be real: If you don’t already know the people well, chances are you’ll give—and receive—something that will be thrown away within days. It’s OK to just say no.

5. Quit guessing (and stop other people from guessing about you).

A blank piece of paper labeled "gift list" surrounded by an iPad and candy.
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Here’s a tip: If you need a second or third opinion on a gift—"Do you think so-and-so would like this?"—don’t buy it. We all love planning a thoughtful surprise, but few things are as wasteful as buying somebody something they don’t want or need. Be forward and ask people what they’d like. And give helpful suggestions when people are shopping for you.

6. Buy experiences instead of things.

The legs and feet of a man and woman taking a dance class.
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Tickets to a concert or game, dance lessons, a reservation at a hotel, and other experiential gifts don’t require wrapping or packing peanuts. Besides, many people insist that they find experiences more meaningful than physical objects (and there are even some scientific studies that back that observation up).

7. Stop wrapping gifts.

A big teddy bear peeking out from behind a wall.
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Hide them instead! If you have small children, one of the most fun (or evil) things you can do is create a scavenger hunt. (This also works on adults who have refused to grow up.) Searching for gifts in mundane-yet-unexpected places like a pillowcase, a cookie tin, or in the pocket of a coat buried deep in the attic closet can be more surprising and fun than unwrapping them.

8. If you choose to wrap, use recyclable wrapping paper.

A woman holding a present wrapped in brown paper.
Kikovic/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Every year, millions of pounds of wrapping paper end up in the trash. “Some wrapping paper is recyclable—but it has to be not metallic, textured, or have glitter or ribbon on it,” Tim Donnelly writes in a great guide at Lifehacker. If you do buy recyclable paper, make sure to use it correctly and remove all the tape before recycling it. In fact, why not just skip the tape entirely and bundle the present the old-fashioned way with some string or ribbons (which you’re reusing, right)?

9. Make your own wrapping paper.

Wrapped presents, including one that's wrapped in newspaper.
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If you’re the creative type, gifts wrapped in old catalogs, newspapers, butcher paper, magazines, and other paper products lying around the house can actually look quite handsome. According to one oft-cited statistic, “If every family in the U.S. reused just 2 feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet."

10. Don’t pop that bubble wrap.

Bubble wrap on a blue background.
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We know. This one is nearly impossible—but resist the urge to pop any bubble wrap you receive. Save whatever packaging you get to be used later. (That includes those pesky packing peanuts!)

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