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End of an era: hotels across Europe are banning tiny toiletries

In an effort to reduce waste packaging, the European Commission is banning tiny bottles of shampoo and shower gel in hotels

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham

Getting free, tiny bottles of toiletries like shampoo, soap and shower gel is one of the joys of staying in a hotel. Not only do they mean you don’t have to pack all that stuff for yourself and weigh down your suitcase, but you get to sample some toiletries that are – usually – a little more luxurious than most of us are used to. And you can take ‘em home, obvs.

However, the complimentary tiny toiletries often offered in hotels are also pretty terrible for the environment. These mini-gifts use up loads of plastic and paper – which is why the European Commission has announced it wants to ban them throughout the EU.

What killjoys, eh? But the European Commission do have good reasons for banning this stuff. It’s all part of reducing the carbon footprint of the EU within the next decade and making the packaging industry carbon neutral by 2050.

‘Without action, the EU would see a further 19 percent increase in packaging waste by 2030, and for plastic packaging waste even a 46 percent increase,’ it said in a statement.

It isn’t just free tiny toiletries that the EU is getting rid of. Single-use fruit and vegetable packaging is also being banned, with the aim of promoting containers that can be refilled and reused. It hasn’t yet been announced when the ban could come into effect as the proposal still has to be ratified by the European Parliament. 

Don't panic – you’ll still be able to buy mini shampoos and stuff at duty free. It looks like it’ll just be the free stuff that won’t be allowed. Some hotels have already made the move to providing bigger bottles of toiletries for customers to use. 

You can have a look at the European Commission’s full statement on wasteful packaging here. And while we’re all a little sad about the end of the free-mini-toiletry era, at least it’s for a good cause!

Did you see that Spain has voted to offer three days of menstrual leave every month?

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