In the past six weeks I’ve undertaken an extraordinary amount of travel ling, each new location I visited meant a new hotel room. Each having its own unique appeal, decor & views but unfortunately, the same old complimentary bathroom package.
As a follower of the campaign #RandomActsOfConservation, I tend to watch out for unnecessary waste. Every hotel room you stay in will quite happily blast A/C so high you have to wear extra layers indoors, leave every electrical appliance on stand –by & put two new toothbrushes in your bathroom every day.
With the rise of single use plastics, many such as plastic bags & bottles with degradation rates 10 to 100 times faster than the average toothbrush, using a complimentary toothbrush in hotel truly is “unnecessary waste.”
When you look at the numbers, they are staggering. Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand has approximately 1,000 hotels available on booking site Agoda. Each of these hotels has an average of 100 rooms, meaning a total of 100,000 rooms available containing 200,000 toothbrushes.
According to statistics, any successful hotel requires 60% occupancy throughout the year. Extrapolate that to the number of rooms in Bangkok means that approximately 60,000 rooms are occupied at any one time in the city. If only 20% of those occupants use a single toothbrush each day, that’s over 4,000,000 toothbrushes a year.
The average toothbrush weighs between 15 to 20 grams & if we err on the side of conservatism once again, that weighs up to a mighty, mind boggling 60,000 Kgs of waste per-year. To put it into Thai terms, that’s around the weight of 10 Asian elephants!
I hasten to point out, the exact numbers for this are not available to me, nor do I foresee any hotel releasing exact figures on how much waste they actually produce in contradiction to their sustainability policies (highlighted also by the alarming increase of unsustainable food being served such as shark fin soup in Bangkok hotels & restaurants), but an estimate, a conservative estimate I feel for such a popular tourist & business destination where many hotel rooms are occupied by two people.
The toothbrush is of course an important part of modern living & dentists recommend we change ours regularly, there are many biodegradable options you should consider when purchasing a new one. Most importantly we can stop these ubiquitous & useful instrument from becoming a single use burden on the environment, so don’t forget your toothbrush!