Tissues, Towels, TVs and Consistency




By Adam Turteltaub

I see scenes like the one in the picture a lot.  A message from a hotel about being green and saving the environment, placed right in front of ten tissues turned into a lovely origami-esque flower that I’ll end up having to throw away just to get a usable one to blow my nose.  Throwing away ten tissues isn’t very green.

Sometimes I see a note about being green on a table left in front of a TV that the hotel leaves on, and I can’t tell you how many times I have seen the note about hanging the towel on a rack to save water (which I do) if I’m okay with using it the next day, only to have the cleaning staff replace it anyway.

I’m not sure what leads to this phenomenon.  Do cleaning people get more tips if they do the tissue display?  Is it just easier for them to replace the towels?  Does the marketing department want them to leave the TV on and set to the in-house channel advertising the restaurants and shops?

No matter what the reason, it erodes the credibility of the “going green” message and points to a risk with any initiative, including compliance initiatives:  there is a long way between enunciating a policy and living it, and many potential failure points along the way.

A department wants an exception, employees don’t buy in, or, it’s a policy that exists only on paper and doesn’t really reflect a commitment.

Either way, the next time your department creates a policy, it’s important to check to ensure everyone is bought in, or at least following it.  Otherwise, it may end up folded into an origami flower.


  1. Agreed! Why do they keep replacing my towels???

    For me, credibility is damaged when an organization publicizes something that it either has no intention of following in the first place, or no means of training and monitoring for adherence. Great analogy, Adam!

  2. Adam,
    Good thought provoking post – are we creating policies that are not being followed – are the policies enforceable, are they actionable, do they even make good common sense? Or are they just politically correct? If the ‘green policy’ is not being followed – what other more critical policies required by your Compliance program are only words on paper? As always, thank you for your insight and making us think!

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