In Loreto Bay: Green Hotel Key is a Little Big Idea

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I feel slightly obligated to atone for my apparent wayward ways when it comes to car idling as pointed out by Loni so diplomatically in yesterday’s post. So while thinking of small green things that can make a big environmental difference (insert image here of Clint with reading glasses hanging off nose doing excited Donny Deutsch impression) I remembered the “green” hotel key we were given during our stay at the Inn at Loreto Bay.

At first I didn’t think much of it. It’s simply a hotel key made of recycled cardboard instead of normal PVC plastic. It works like a normal key; just slide it into the electronic slider on your door. No big deal, right?

Well, hang on a sec here. 

I began to think about how many of those plastic hotel keys are in use every day even just across the U.S and Canada. And if you estimate at least 50% of them are never returned at check-out (and I bet that’s conservatively low), you could 

Img_4084_2 begin to imagine the insanely high amount of plastic hotel key production. I could be wrong and admit I don’t know much about this topic. It just got me thinking.

So flash forward 30 minutes after a little bit of Google detective work and I discovered some interesting things:

  • The name of the company that makes these keys for the Inn at Loreto Bay is called GreenKeyCard
  • The Hotel Association of Canada has a program called the “Green Key Audit” (not related to the green key itself) which ranks hotels from 1-5 levels of environmental friendliness; a great idea to get people to support higher rated hotels. I’m not sure if such a program exists in the U.S. yet
  • The American Hotel & Lodging Association does have a green program, however there is not much detail contained on their web site that I could find
  • A hotel in Colorado issued a press release when they made the switch last year to “Green-Key” and said “The hotel currently uses approximately 11,000 plastic keycards per year. When these keycards are lost or fail, they end up making their way to the landfill. The paper keycards can be recycled along with our mixed paper recycling.”

I did discover one negative: water. Given that there is an abundance of that around Loreto, it didn’t take long for my papercard key to turn into a soggy coaster. I tried to open our hotel door anyways and it didn’t work. Fortunately Loni had her dry one. I was thankful she had not paddled as hard as I during our morning kayak on the Sea of Cortes.

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  • Loni Kao Stark

    <p>And you believe everything you read on the internet?</p> <p>I'm just a higher skilled paddler than you are. You just splashed a lot!</p>

  • Loni Kao Stark

    And you believe everything you read on the internet?

    I’m just a higher skilled paddler than you are. You just splashed a lot!

  • Loni Kao Stark

    And you believe everything you read on the internet?

    I’m just a higher skilled paddler than you are. You just splashed a lot!

  • Marsha Jackson

    <p>OH! How about when the key gets bent after putting it in the lock?? Doesn't work. We went back to the Inn for key replacements 4 times and yes, Chuck's key was destroyed in our kayaking trip..If you have a plastic key at home I'm for recycling it and just having them re-program it for our door…If you don't have that plastic key then I guess you are stuck with the not so sturdy greenkey…MJ</p>

  • Loni Kao Stark

    <p>I agree with your sentiments Marsha. From a production perspective, paper products require more resources (water, energy) to produce than their equivalent plastic products. Whereas plastic product do worse at landfill sites. eg. paper bags vs plastic bags. </p> <p>I think an alternative solution is to keep the plastic keys (remember, switching to paper keys requires throwing out perfectly good plastic keys) and charging a $10 deposit which is returned when the keys are returned upon checkout. Reusing plastic keys is far greener than throwing away paper keys…or in your case going through 4 of them!</p>

  • Marsha Jackson

    OH! How about when the key gets bent after putting it in the lock?? Doesn’t work. We went back to the Inn for key replacements 4 times and yes, Chuck’s key was destroyed in our kayaking trip..If you have a plastic key at home I’m for recycling it and just having them re-program it for our door…If you don’t have that plastic key then I guess you are stuck with the not so sturdy greenkey…MJ

  • Marsha Jackson

    OH! How about when the key gets bent after putting it in the lock?? Doesn’t work. We went back to the Inn for key replacements 4 times and yes, Chuck’s key was destroyed in our kayaking trip..If you have a plastic key at home I’m for recycling it and just having them re-program it for our door…If you don’t have that plastic key then I guess you are stuck with the not so sturdy greenkey…MJ

  • Loni Kao Stark

    I agree with your sentiments Marsha. From a production perspective, paper products require more resources (water, energy) to produce than their equivalent plastic products. Whereas plastic product do worse at landfill sites. eg. paper bags vs plastic bags.

    I think an alternative solution is to keep the plastic keys (remember, switching to paper keys requires throwing out perfectly good plastic keys) and charging a $10 deposit which is returned when the keys are returned upon checkout. Reusing plastic keys is far greener than throwing away paper keys…or in your case going through 4 of them!

  • Loni Kao Stark

    I agree with your sentiments Marsha. From a production perspective, paper products require more resources (water, energy) to produce than their equivalent plastic products. Whereas plastic product do worse at landfill sites. eg. paper bags vs plastic bags.

    I think an alternative solution is to keep the plastic keys (remember, switching to paper keys requires throwing out perfectly good plastic keys) and charging a $10 deposit which is returned when the keys are returned upon checkout. Reusing plastic keys is far greener than throwing away paper keys…or in your case going through 4 of them!