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Going green: View my world-class collection of hotel towel cards.

My global collection of towel cards tells guests how to be green (and save the hotel money) in a dozen instructive, chic, bossy, relieving, euphemistic, paranoid, minimalistic, and earnest ways.

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4. “Gee, that’s a relief” towel cards

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This kind of towel card reassures that, even for jerks who choose not to reuse their towels, basic services – like say, breathable air in your room – will probably still be provided. From a mid-range business hotel chain:

“IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS PROGRAM, SIMPLY LEAVE THIS CARD ON YOUR PILLOW AND TOWELS AND LINENS WILL BE CHANGED. AS ALWAYS, LINENS AND TOWELS ARE AUTOMATICALLY CHANGED AFTER EVERY GUEST CHECKOUT.”

5. Euphemistic towel cards

This towel card approach pops up in grand old hotels or at inns with a heavy dose of Victorian décor. Phrasing tarts up the issue to the point where the card may appear to have little or nothing to do with laundry. From a big downtown hotel in Melbourne, Australia:

“WELCOME TO THE HOTEL’S GREEN PROGRAMMING. IN THE INTERESTS OF CONSERVATION, YOU MAY CHOOSE TO RETAIN ANY OF THE OFFERED TOWELLING BY SIMPLY HANGING THE ITEMS FOLLOWING USE. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION IN INITIATIVES THAT BETTER SERVE THE ENVIRONMENT.”

6. Paranoid towel cards

Along with the usual warnings about damage to the environment, this type of towel card raises new and sometimes extremely weird worries in the mind of a guest. From a card at a hotel on Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula:

“IN ORDER TO KEEP OUR COST AT A MINIMUM, WE EXERCISE A FIRM CONTROL OF OUR INVENTORY. IF YOU HAVE ANY REASON TO BELIEVE THAT YOU DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT NUMBER OF TOWELS, PLEASE ADVISE US IMMEDIATELY.”

7. Ultra-minimalist towel cards

In today’s boutique hotel, a fingerprinted and creased towel card could easily spoil the effect of its cool, clean, chrome-and-halogen decor. So the notice shows up on a translucent overlay that’s stuck to the wall. And it is as bare-bones minimal as its hotel. Just the basics – like in this example from a cutting-edge four-star in Lisbon:

“TOWELS ON THE FLOOR MEAN ‘CHANGE THEM.’”

To be honest, this made perfect sense to me. No sanctimonious sermon. No endless speech. But even here, the urge to lecture guests was just too strong to resist. As I was about to head to bed, I spotted something tiny next to the sink. I got my glasses. I turned up the halogen light.

“PLEASE,” urged a sheepish little sign. “PLEASE DON’T LEAVE TAPS ON UNNECESSARILY.”

Peter Mandel is an author of books for kids including the new “Jackhammer Sam” (Macmillan/Roaring Brook).

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