Hotel Conservation Tip – Lessons from Thailand

In Thailand hotels, there is a great system in place for energy conservation. We have thus far stayed in 4 hotels here. Everyone of them uses a metal key, and on the keyring is a magnetic card. You have to insert the magnetic card into a slot on the wall just inside the door for any electricity to make it into the room.

Once you pull the card out, electricity stays on for about three minutes, and then everything goes off – every light, the air conditioner, all sockets, everything.

What a great way to save energy use. The only inconvenience I’ve seen so far is that electronic devices couldn’t charge unless you are in the room. When it’s really hot out, it does take the room about 5 minutes to start to feel cool as well. I’m more than okay dealing with this.

Could you imagine if a system like this were in place in every hotel in the US? That must have the potential to save many tons of coal burning every year.

Drinking Water on the Road

I consider myself a bit of health nut, and one of the consequences of that is I like to drink good water whenever I can. I also am environmentally conscious and don’t like the idea of buying bottled water everywhere, because of both using the plastic, and the transportation cost (carbon footprint) of shipping the bottles of water (they’re heavy). One of the times I’m challenged around this is when I fly and stay in hotels.

What I have found is that hotels almost always have a filtered water or 5-gallon dispenser in their fitness rooms. So, I travel with my water bottle, being sure to empty it before going through airport security (sometimes this means gulping water down while taking off my shoes to get through). My first stop when I check-in to the hotel is to fill up my water bottle in the fitness room. I then fill it up before I go to sleep at night and before I leave the hotel for the day’s activities. This way I drink good clean water and avoid the environmental and business expense costs of drinking bottled water.

And if I do wind up buying bottled water on the road, one of my purchase decisions is to find bottled spring water from as local a source as possible. So, if I’m in Houston I would choose Ozark Spring water from Texas before buying Dasani filtered water bottled in Georgia.

Benefit of Public Transportation: Connection to Place

I take public transportation when visiting cities whenever possible. Some people wonder why I do that. One reason I do is because it connects me to the place I’m visiting. A good example of this is when I arrived at O’Hare a few weeks ago and took the train into the city.

At the second train stop, a young man wearing a backpack go on the train. He sat across from me, and I couldn’t help but notice his leg shaking up and down forcefully. He began speaking out loud, so everyone could here, and asked people to please listen, that he needed help. His dad was being an asshole and kicked him out and he had nowhere to go. He’d been sleeping on the L for the past couple nights, scrounging where he could. He said he was having a really hard time, but he’s not a bad person, and hadn’t done anything wrong. He was trying to get enough money for bus fare to get to his cousin’s place in New York state. He needed $18.50, and had collected $6 already. Still talking loud so everyone could here him, he started to explain each person that gave him some money to get him to the $6 he had already. He was having such a hard time. And he seemed like such a good guy. He then said he just really needed some help, and then mentioned something about no one listening to him in frustration. When he was done talking, he hung his head down and continued shaking his leg, with extreme up-down oscillations. I know that people’s legs sometimes shake (including mine). I have just never seen it this obvious and strong.

I couldn’t ignore such an honest plea from a guy sitting so close. I found some change in my backpack and some singles in my pocket and gave it to him. He looked at me and said thank you very sincerely. He then hung his head back down and leg still shaking. I started to breathe with him, to support him further. I empathized strongly with him, just by listening and breathing.

I asked him how much more he needed to get the bus ticket, he counted the money I gave him and said $10. I knew I had a $10 bill in my pocket, so I gave it to him. He was the really grateful. Then, we started talking. We talked a little bit about him getting to his cousin’s, but mostly he asked questions about my life, which I readily answered. I found an apple in my bag, and gave that to him too – which he quickly devoured, commenting that he hasn’t had much food lately. By the time the stop came around that would get him to the bus station, he was so much more relaxed, he was breathing easier and his leg had completely stopped shaking.

Something about connecting with this guy and helping him out made a difference to me and connected me to where I’m visiting in a way that couldn’t happen in a taxi. And the train fare plus the money I gave this guy still cost less than half of a cab fare into the city.