If every single person in China’s population of over 1.3 billion people tossed 34 yuan in, let’s say, Shanghaiist’s pocket, that would equal around 5.5 billion US dollars. That is the amount on money being wasted on disposable hotel supplies including toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, slippers and combs. China is becoming wary of this situation as well as its strain on the country’s finances.
Similar problems can be found in the many high-level meetings and conferences being held in hotels and convention centers around China. Common complimentary gifts in these kinds of events include plastic bags, ballpoint pens, pencils, writing pads, water bottles and paper cups. The water bottles are rarely empty, which wastes water, and the writing pads are also likely not completely filled. These items are usually left strewn around meeting rooms after the events and are all thrown away.
Although an employee for the China Tourism Association estimated that $5.5 billion were wasted on the disposable necessities, this number is thought to be a conservative guess. As for other convenient items, the 45 billion wooden chopsticks made per year in China costs 25 million trees — cutting forestry reserves by 2 million square meters.
Fortunately, some policies are in the works, according to Xinhua. Organizations such as the State Development and Reform Commission, as well as the central government, have called for “all Chinese citizens to make utmost efforts to save resources.”
Shanghaiist thinks the country could also benefit from paying attention to measures taken by other countries, like South Korea and Ireland, where supermarkets charge a fee for plastic bags. After all, they do cost money. Hotels could start with just the removal of the free toothbrushes and combs. That alone would save tons of resources and energy needed to produce plastic. Those toothbrushes aren’t worth a crap anyway. Shanghaiist uses them to clean the cracks in the shower because they’re nice and bendy — and we use a hotel comb to brush our cat. Those wooden chopsticks could feasibly be re-used, but another solution might be to limit their production and increase their price. This could also work with styrofoam, one of the worst inventions, earth-wise, since CFCs. As an individual, you can try to re-use the plastic cups that your milk tea comes in and re-use the plastic bags from the supermarket as either garbage bags or hats (Shanghaiist has seen bicyclists do this during rain storms). We also suggest avoiding the use of paper cups and plates. Just wash the ones you have, for crying out loud! You can also keep all your old issues of That’s Shanghai (or your expat mag of choice) and the magazines you force your friends to send you from home, pile them up and take them to the man on the street with the weight. We did it just last week and used all that money to buy some ice cream, but hey, it was free ice cream.
Photo from alibaba.com.