10 Earth-Friendly Ideas for Hotel Goodie Bags

A few weeks ago my husband and I attended an out of town wedding.  We hadn’t been to one in a while and were thrilled to receive a goodie bag at the hotel reception when we checked in! When we got to our room, the first thing we did was check out its contents. 

Now my husband and I are not perfect by any means but we try to live a pretty eco-conscious existence: we bike commute in the city, drive an electric Prius Prime, and try to purchase unpackaged and natural foods.  Our awareness about the waste we produce was heightened after we spent four months in Guatemala shooting a documentary film about the impact of trash on watersheds (but I digress!)  I say all this only to explain why we were bummed to see our goodie bag filled with food and beverages in single-use baggies and containers.

I know that when a whole big group of people you love spend a lot of time and energy to come from out-of-town to celebrate you and your beloved, you want to do something nice for them, and this often comes in the form of a hotel goodie bag (among many other things!) But in the spirit of ‘goodie’ bags, I got to thinking about how this bag could better live up to its name and spread some goodness in this world. Specifically, how could we exchange its traditional contents for items that not only look nice, but are good for the planet and our health?

(As an aside, I also know that hotel goodie bags are of one of those wedding to-do’s that the bride and groom don’t always do themselves. Sometimes the responsibility falls to mom, or the maid of honor, your favorite Aunt Jo, or someone who just happens to be around and wants to be helpful. This person may or may not know exactly what you – bride or groom - would want to give out, and in the pre-wedding frenzy you probably don’t have time to think about it. This post is also for them!)

I went down the rabbit hole and put together a list of 10 creative hotel goodie bag ideas for the bride (or groom) who loves the earth, featuring some of my favorite innovative, green companies that are doing their best to use the earth’s resources responsibly.  In no particular order:    

  1. A bamboo toothbrush from Brush with Bamboo. Who hasn’t recently forgotten their toothbrush on a trip and had to run to CVS to buy a new plastic one?  Brush with Bamboo provides an eco-friendly alternative to the traditional toothbrush.  Not only will everyone’s teeth be shiny clean and breath be minty, but you’ll open your guest’s eyes to sustainable alternatives.

      2. A reusable waterbottle.  We love Kleen Kanteen! Help your guests stay hydrated after all the partying, but not at the            earth’s expense. Leave them a reusable water bottle, or insulated cup. If you think they might want to pre-game the                main event, leave them a growler full of your favorite local beer.  Added bonus: Get your wedding logo or names and                wedding date inscribed on the side of the bottle as a momento.

     3. Mini reusable bags of snacks.  You know your guests will be hungry at some point during the weekend. Why not buy             some snacks in bulk (trail mix, gummy bears, or nuts) and package them in individual reusable bags?  We prefer bags               made out of organic cotton like the ones from Ecobags or (if you aren’t busy enough planning your wedding!) you                     could easily and cheaply sew your own.

     4. Make a donation in the name of your guests and leave some info about the donation in each hotel room. Your guests              will be pleased that instead of buying things that will quickly end up in the landfill you planted trees, saved homeless              dogs, or donated to a local women’s shelter.

      5. A gift card to your favorite local coffee shop or restaurant will get your guests out and exploring the town before the            big event, will encourage them to run into other wedding guests, and will support local business in the process.  Even              better if the gift card is not a plastic card, just a keyword they can use at the checkout. You’ll be surprised how many              local businesses are willing to be flexible to keep regular customers happy.

     6. Buy shampoo and conditioner in bulk and fill reusable glass travel bottles of each. This will discourage your guests              from using the disposable plastic bottles given by the hotel. If you’re uncomfortable with this, write a little note about            why this is your favorite shampoo (you love the smell! it’s totally organic! it’s made by your friend!) and tell them you                wanted to share it with them.  A personal note makes any crazy gift endearing! Check out Infinity Jars for all kinds of              beautiful tiny glass jars.

      7. A reusable tote bag. Who doesn’t need another one of these? Totally multi-purpose and good for the environment,                get your names and wedding date printed on them or buy a nice one from a local store.  Remember to opt for bags                  made out of natural fibers like cotton, linen or hemp.

     8. No welcome bag is complete without something for the post-party hangover.  But instead of buying Advil in                        individual (but un-recyclable) packages or a new plastic bottle for each guest, buy the pills in a large bottle and divvy              them up in repurposed containers or mini mason jars.

      9. If you want to leave a note, a schedule of events, or a map of the city or town, get sheets of recycled paper (some                  handmade ones are truly beautiful – PaperSlurry has a good list) and print a handwritten message and map.  Ask an                artistic friend to help you to ensure the final result is what you were hoping for!

    10. And finally, if nothing else, leave a bouquet of flowers in a glass jar. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, even                        flowers from your garden and recycled jars will do the trick.  This will brighten up any hotel or Air BnB, and what                        says “I love you, thanks for coming” more than a fresh bouquet of flowers in your weekend home away from home?






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Anna Pollock is co-founder of Field & Gown, Executive Producer of the documentary film Disposable Addiction, and a public health professional. An environmentalista to the core, she lives a zero waste lifestyle and brings those principles to the core of the business.  Field & Gown is a wedding decor rental company based in the Washington DC area. 

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