You don't have someone scrub your bathroom, vacuum your carpet and make your bed every day at home, so you probably don't need that level of service at a hotel. Sure, it's a nice perk when you're paying hundreds of dollars for a fancy suite, but it's arguably unnecessary most of the time, especially when you're only using your room as a place to sleep each night, spending most of your days exploring a city or attending business meetings.
Like other "consumables," housekeeping can also be tremendously expensive for hotels, some of which employ dozens of full-time staff and wash hundreds of towels and bedding sets each and every day.
Starwood Hotels has a program that's a total win for everyone involved: Make a Green Choice. Clearly, the chain's highlighting this initiative's environment-friendly aspect, since by opting in you likely won't be having towels and linens washed unnecessarily, in turn saving a significant amount of water. In exchange, Starwood will issue a $5 food and beverage voucher for each night you participate. You can turn in each voucher at check-out for 500 Starpoints (250 points at Aloft), with credits posting within a few days. If you conservatively value Starpoints at two cents each, that's a $10 credit for every night you decline housekeeping.
Of course, the hotel's savings can be more significant than your own return.
According to Westin, the average room will save nearly 50 gallons of water, 0.19 kWh, 25,000 BTU of gas and seven ounces of chemicals. The cost of these components can of course vary drastically depending on the market, but it's probably safe to assume that Starwood isn't losing money with Make a Green Choice.
Still, if you're not getting $10 or more of value out of coming back to a slightly more organized room with fresh-from-the-laundry towels each day, opting in is a no-brainer.
To sign up, you'll first need to stay at a participating hotel. Westin was the first chain to offer the service, which has since spread to select Aloft, Sheraton and W hotels around the world. Since it's not going to make or break your stay, you can simply inquire at check-in. Many participating hotels have opt-in signs you can hang from your door each night. You should then receive a paper voucher under your door early the next morning, which you can collect and turn in when you check out. If you don't have a hanging placard in your room, simply call the front desk to enroll.
Fortunately, opting into Make a Green Choice doesn't mean you can't have fresh towels and bathroom amenities when you need them. While your bed won't be made and your underwear picked up off the floor and folded, you can still call housekeeping for a fresh set of towels, soaps, shampoos and even the toothbrushes and other goodies hotels tend to hand out abroad.