Here’s a green idea that won’t go down the crapper
March 7, 2002
The Aspen Skiing Co. is trying to get green, one square of toilet paper at a time.
In its latest experiment at reducing waste, the Skico has changed the way it dispenses toilet paper at Buttermilk.
The Skico previously used standard toilet-paper rolls – the ones with the cardboard core – at its base lodge at Buttermilk. It recently switched to jumbo rolls which, when finished, are automatically replaced by a back-up roll in the dispenser.
The move was made at the suggestion of night janitor Ned Carter. He complained to the Skico’s upper management that the company’s practices were wasting up to 30 percent of unused toilet paper.
Here’s why: The Skico’s policy was to replace the old rolls in the dispenser when only one-quarter or less remained. A company that stresses customer service dare not short sheet its clientele in sensitive areas like a toilet stall.
Carter counted that one-quarter of a roll equaled 150 squares of toilet paper. A full roll has 500 squares. That means about 30 percent of the unused toilet paper was going down the crapper, so to speak.
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In addition, Carter estimated that between 2 and 5 percent of the spare rolls of toilet paper were being stolen because they were easily accessible.
Auden Schendler, Skico director of environmental affairs, said Carter punctuated his point by saving all the one-quarter “stubs” of toilet paper from one night and delivering them in a bag to Skico CEO and President Pat O’Donnell’s office.
The presentation was quite effective. The Skico managers could have turned the other cheek to Carter’s suggestion. Instead they implemented the experiment with jumbo rolls at the building that houses Bumps Restaurant and the skier services at Buttermilk.
Carter said he first suggested the idea seven years ago while working in the purchasing department of the Skico. “I must say, the ‘environmental ear’ is much more responsive now than it was seven years ago,” Carter said.
Schendler said the experiment hasn’t been an unqualified success. Some people complain that the new toilet paper is a little too harsh.
The squares also have a tendency to break off the new, heavy jumbo rolls, creating a mess that needs to be picked off the floor by janitors. That offsets labor savings from not having to patrol the bathrooms to check the level of the rolls.
Schendler said a decision is due by the end of the season on whether or not to extend the toilet-paper policy to the bathrooms at the base of the other three ski areas.
If the jumbo rolls are scrapped and the Skico goes back to standard rolls, perhaps there is an opportunity to still reduce the amount of waste.
The Skico could always give the one-quarter rolls of unused toilet paper away with each lift ticket purchased. After all, a happy guest is a well-stocked guest.