How keeping linen working longer helps the environment.

Changing how hotel guests apply sunless tanning treatments to avoid staining linen during visits can have significant positive environmental impacts, says the Textile Services Association (TSA). This is following on from media stories highlighting the financial impact on the hospitality industry caused by badly stained linen.

A recent survey carried out by the TSA showed that over half the linen purchased by laundries servicing the hospitality industry is lost, stolen or damaged every year. Indeed, 50% of rented linen products last less than four months, well below the two year working life they could achieve if looked after correctly. Tanning lotion can cause serious staining that cannot be removed.

Helping to reduce the amount of linen that is destroyed not only saves money but reduces the environmental impact of having to replace it. It requires 15,000 litres of water and 8kg of carbon to produce one large bath towel, and a king size duvet cover takes 29,000 litres – enough to fill 365 bathtubs! Increasing the lifespan of linen products is hugely helpful to improving the sustainability of the planet.

“The laundry process is already circular, and we are committed to continuing to improve the environmental impact of the laundry industry further” says David Stevens, CEO of the TSA. “A key part of that needs to be collaborating with the hospitality industry to improve how linen is used and how we can all help to reduce the amount badly stained items.”

Kimberley Nkosi is a renowned skin health specialist, entrepreneur and mentor who has provided her expertise for some of the biggest stars in the world and recently provided sunless tanning for the hit film Barbie. She explains, “There are so many benefits to using sunless tanning products, with society being more mindful and more aware of the damaged and prolonged exposure to UV rays. For some people having a sunless tan is a huge confidence boost. Who doesn’t feel better when they look tanned?”

The TSA is keen for hotel guests to still be able to use sunless tanning products guilt-free during their stays. This is why the Association feels it’s important to find ways to inform hotel guests about how to tan themselves without also tanning bedsheets and towels, as well as ensuring hotel staff are aware of best practice around handling serious stains.

Kimberley and the TSA have put together some advice for hotel guests looking to use sunless tans:

  • With “guide colour” treatments, it is essential that you are aware of how long the tanning treatment takes to develop, as this can be anything between 3 and 8 hours. During this time the risk of staining is high and therefore avoid any contact with linen where possible.
  • Ensure to shower off the residue guide colour after the development time.
  • Recommend using modern alternatives that lack guide colours, or even body butters where possible as they can provide the same look as traditional tanning treatments without the risk of leaving residue.
  • It is recommended that application tanning is done prior to arriving at the hotel. If applying during your stay, please be mindful of the effect tanning treatments can have on linen.
  • Onesies or similar clothing are a great way of stopping transfer to other materials after the tanning is applied.  Therefore we recommend guests planning on tanning during their stay should bring something protective like this.

“Sunless tanning treatments have increased in popularity in recent years, and there are many hotel guests who might apply them for a special night out during their stay,” says David. “Staining from tanning lotion is just one of the ways that hotel linen can become damaged. We’ve been building initiatives both for our members and in collaboration with our partner sectors in order to minimise this as much as possible. Finding ways to inform hotel guests is a challenge and we are looking for the support from the hotel sector to help make these simple behaviour changes as they can have huge positive effects on the quality of laundry and the environment.”

“Many people have no idea of the environmental impact of things like linen production,” says Kimberley. “It’s important to be mindful of our use of makeup and tanning products, and the small ways we can change our behaviour to improve things.”

The TSA is currently engaged with UKHospitality and UK Housekeeping Association by creating supporting material including training videos to help improve the understanding on how we can all make difference by looking after the millions of pieces of hospitality linen in circulation.

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls says, “Alongside our members, we’ve been working with the TSA for more than a year on a number of issues, particularly extending the life of linen in hotels. We’re pleased to see the hard work on this issue coming together and will continue to work with the TSA to share these important messages.”

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