Robert Berrey, general manager of The Gideon Putnam, awards Environmental Manager Heather Coton with a GuestPath “WOW” for an above-and-beyond effort. Coton shared the award with Executive Housekeeper Pieter van Houten and Maintenance Manager Michael Marchin
When the Delaware North-operated Gideon Putnam in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., replaced its guestroom pillows earlier this year, Environmental Manager Heather Coton set out to recycle or repurpose the more than 600 that seemed destined for the landfill.
Persistence became the name of the game.
Coton contacted more than a dozen sustainability-focused organizations and industry experts, none of whom had a solution. Several promising leads turned in to dead ends. An attempt to upcycle the pillows by donating them to human or animal shelters was also unsuccessful, as none could accept the pillows because of sanitary reasons.
Pieter van Houten, executive housekeeper at The Gideon Putnam, was responsible for storing the pillows while Coton sought a sustainable solution. It was van Houten’s offhand suggestion that Coton try Craigslist that provided the answer she was looking for.
In her Craigslist post, Coton explained why she was looking for a new home — aside from the landfill — for the resort’s old pillows.
“We have a robust environmental management system in place called GreenPath that guides the decisions we make every day,” she stated. “We do not want to send these pillows to the landfill, so we are looking for a way to recycle/upcycle them. The pillows are used, some are stained, but they could be washed/sterilized and the poly fill used for animal bedding, stuffing for dog toys or dolls, batting for quilts. Please contact if interested.”
Within 10 minutes, five people had claimed 265 pillows. Within two days, an additional 210 had been claimed. Michael Marchin, maintenance manager for The Gideon Putnam, had also been quietly donating pillows, bag by bag, so within a few days, each of the 600 pillows had been claimed by individuals and families in need.
Coton’s unrelenting approach paid off in more ways than she expected.
“I made some great industry connections, found two conferences I would like to attend, discovered two textile recycling companies that can possibly help us recycle sheets, towels, blankets, curtains, banquet linens, uniforms, etc.,” she said. “And this project brought us back to the basics: neighbors helping neighbors.”
Published: August 25, 2017