Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wyndham uniforms go green with recycled plastic

Wyndham’s got me on this one.

It’s a uniform. It’s trendy, hip and easily personalized to convey an employee’s own style. It’s environmentally friendly. And made of … plastic?

It’s not that I have any opposition to going green. I, like anyone else, applaud it, and I think the industry is doing a great job. Here at H&MM, I’m in charge of writing our green news briefs and am floored every time I see the full e-mail account of press releases. Everyone seems to be doing their part these days, and it makes me even more aware to make sure I collect my own recyclables at home to place on the curb for pick-up day.

But, back to the suit … here’s the gist of Wyndham Hotel Group’s press release:

“Select Wyndham hotels will introduce the new uniforms beginning this fall by job category. Front desk and other customer–facing employees are required to begin wearing the new uniforms by the end of 2009 and housekeeping and other back–of–house staff by 2010. All new properties are required to provide the new uniforms upon opening.

The textiles are produced from post–consumer products, including recycled plastic beverage bottles, which are processed into flakes, then filaments that are spun into yarn and ultimately woven into very soft fabrics. Recycling polymers keeps more plastics out of landfills.

The uniforms, which do not require professional laundering, minimize the use of chemicals during cleaning and provide a cost savings to hotel operators.

Cincinnati–based Cintas Corp. will design and manufacture the uniforms and continue to introduce new eco–friendly fabrics for the Wyndham apparel program.”

While Wyndham said these uniforms have been tested by employees and were well liked, I have concerns. OK, I have one concern: Is this really the best fabric to work in?

I understand that we’re talking uniforms here, and even an upscale hotel isn’t exactly going to be dressing its staff in silk and cashmere. But these people are working; they’re at the front desk sweating complaints from angry guests and making sure all rooms are clean and ready for check-in. This is not your standard office job.

And, even if it was, I think we all need to be wearing fibers that breath. Who knows, maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of TLC’s “What Not to Wear,” but I think I might have a legitimate point here. I would love to try out the fabric to see for myself. And, honestly, I hope I’m wrong and this is one of the greatest green initiatives we’ve seen so far from the industry.

Wyndham will be featuring the new uniforms Nov. 8-11 at the 2008 International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show in New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center at the Cintas Corp. trade show booth. While this, unfortunately, is a conference I can’t attend this year, I do hope that our editors who are going to be there will definitely make the booth a stop on their lists.

1 comment:

Paul J. Heney said...

I think you might be surprised ... when I attended last month's Memphis Lodging Industry Summit, they announced at the luncheon that the tablecloths were made from recycled plastic water bottles. After that, I couldn't stop feeling the fabric in disbelief; it felt completely natural.

So I wouldn't put it past Cintas and Wyndham to come up with something that could pass for a natural fiber!