I have been spending quite a bit of time doing research for an article on towels. What I have been trying to figure out is whether or not there is such a thing as a "green" towel. There are so many things to consider. It is not just the types of cotton, organic cotton or bamboo that go into making a towel that matters. It is also how these materials were grown and manufactured. Was there any certification entity involved? Were the farmers paid fairly? Was the raw material grown and the towels manufactured so far away that the energy required to transport the goods cancels out any environmental advantage? Most towels used in the lodging industry today are made in Turkey, China, India and Pakistan.
Figuring out what is a green towel has not been easy. If it does not last as long as the standard cotton towel, is it green? If the price of an organic cotton, bamboo, or bamboo/cotton blend towel is so high that nobody will buy it, does it really matter? What I am beginning to learn is that there are some types of towels that require less detergent, less water, and less drying time to launder and dry. Any towel that can generate this benefit has got to be greener than most.
Be sure to look for my article on towels coming soon on Green Lodging News. There are a lot of vendors that are selling environmentally friendly alternatives to the traditional cotton or cotton/polyester blend varieties. Making sense of what they sell is a challenge but it can be done.