California Threatens to Destroy the Hotel Bathroom Experience Outlawing Mini Toiletry Bottles

First they came for the straws, but I don’t drink from plastic straws so I said nothing. Now they’re coming for miniature shampoo, conditioner, and bath gel as California considers outlawing single use toiletries.

Assembly Bill 1162 passed the Natural Resources committee on Monday by a vote of 6-3 (two Assemblymembers did not vote.)

The bill would ban “lodging establishments”, including hotels, motels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals, from offering small plastic bottles holding 12 ounces or under of product in rooms or public spaces. Instead, the establishments could offer “bulk dispensers” that could be used by a number of people. The goal is to cut down on the amount of plastic containers thrown away by guests and operators. The law wouldn’t apply to nursing homes, hospitals, long-term rentals, or hosted rentals.

That means hotels would install wall dispensers in the shower but wall dispensers are awful and must be stopped.

  • They don’t get refilled properly and when they do get refilled hotels are more likely to use counterfeit products.
  • They’re germ magnets.
  • And guests have been known to put stuff in them you wouldn’t want there. Even where there have been safeguarding locks in place I’ve had rooms where those weren’t locked.

Marriott is enforcing wall mounted toiletry dispensers in the showers of their managed North American properties. It’s cheaper and they get to pretend their motivation is the environment.

It turns out this is a gift to corporate hotel interests under the fig leaf of the environment. Customers may not like this. But what if customers had no choice? Hotels could cut costs and not worry about competition. California’s proposed ban would be a gift to hotel bottom lines by enforcing a cartel that limits how customer-friendly their bathrooms can be. Enforcing a ban means hotels save money, and competitor hotels can’t compete on experience with single use toiletries.

(HT: Point Me to the Plane)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This move is a testament to how much “recycling” never actually gets recycled (besides aluminum).

    If the government actually cared about the environment, they would recycle plastic at a loss. I think the average taxpayer would rather pay for this through their taxes (not much money probably) than living in an increasingly plastic-less world.

  2. IMO two of your points are no different than hand soap dispensers in public washrooms – the same germ magnets and the same likelihood to not be refilled.

    I pack my own toiletries in “GoToobs” (because of fragrance allergies more than environmental reasons, if I’m being honest). For anyone who doesn’t want to rely on wall-mounted options, they are the best containers I’ve found, easy to fill and never leak.

  3. This is why we need a part time legislature like other states. Too much time on their hands.

  4. i think the whole country needs to follow it, there is so much plastic trash everywhere. we all need to support it.

  5. I support this. Plastic waste is terrible. Glad to see some regulation of it. Need to ban single use plastics as much as possible. Europe taking the lead on this as we lag and our beaches are covered with trash. Not to mention all the oil that is extracted just to create this plastic that’s used once. Wasteful.

  6. If you’re worried about some sinister-minded hotel guest putting something in your shampoo, then bring your own shampoo. But imagine what they are doing to your ketchup and mustard at restaurants, and imagine what goes on in the kitchen that you never see. Of all the things I’d worry about, food contamination would be way above shampoo contamination.

    I vote for small shampoo “soap” bars. Wrapped in paper. No plastic.

  7. WOW – way to spin a headline negatively

    “California Threatens to Destroy the Hotel Bathroom Experience Outlawing Mini Toiletry Bottles”

    “California Committed to the Environment by phasing out single use plastics”

  8. When I was a child, I lived near a pond. It was a beautiful pond full of reeds, fish, and clear water. One year, there was too much sun and some green algae started to form. At first it was beautiful, giving the pond a nice green hue. Green is virtuous as we all know. Unfortunately, the green algae filled the pond. On top, green pond scum grew. All the fish died. Green was synonymous with death. Luckily, next year the rain came and the green scum washed away. It took several years, but since fish do not have the one child policy. eventually, the pond restocked with fish.

    Moral 1: Green pond scum chokes out all life.
    Moral 2: If you are offended by this story, then you are self-identifying.

  9. Sorry, but your bathroom experience doesn’t come before the environment. There is too much waste and too much plastic in the world.

    There are 5 massive patches of plastic currently in the ocean. Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans. There may now be around 5.25 trillion macro and microplastic pieces floating in the open ocean. Weighing up to 269,000 tonnes. Plastics consistently make up 60 to 90% of all marine debris studied.

    Hotels consistently refill those cute little bottles you seem to prefer and the opportunity for other guests to mess with them is always there.

    Bring your own toiletries and never worry again.

  10. The second I saw a related article, I knew @Gary would be up in arms. I am always amazed at the outrage over the little bottles of shampoo since quite a few road warriors I know, especially women, bring their own anyway because of the quality and/or fragrance of the products provided by the hotels.

  11. Gary, bring your own shampoo. If you want to try a new brand then buy a new brand not use samples that hare in bottles that KILL the Earth for the NEXT 20 million YEARS.

    Next will you insist that we keep single use Plastic Forks? Plastic Cups? How about the single use Styrofoam cup that keeps the plastic single use cup that holds the Dunkin Donuts Ice Coffee?

    If you really thick we should keep all this. They every hotel in CA should just send it to the Landfill in YOUR BACK YARD.

  12. This just means I’ll have to waste more and pollute more to make up for their idiocy. Screw the environment!

  13. I manage a factory in Ventura that manufactures custom and private label guest amenities such as shampoo, body lotion, bath gel, body lotion and soaps for Fullers’ Soaps. Although we offer biodegradable 1 and 1.25 oz. plastic tubes, this bill is not the answer. Last year I won two nights at an air bnb that had huge bottles of shampoo and bath gel that were very difficult to handle and use in the shower. Why doesn’t somebody come up with real biodegradable packaging alternatives instead?

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