Conflict of values

I recently traveled for business, and the hotel where I stayed -- as is becoming the norm in my limited experience -- asked clients to consider not having linen service every day to avoid waste. I don't replace my towels and sheets at home every day and I really don't need somebody else to make the bed (in the room I have to myself), so I've been on board with that for a while.

One morning as I was leaving my room, with the "do not disturb" sign on the door, I ran into one of the housekeepers. The conversation went something like this:

Her: You don't want me to clean your room?
Me: No it's ok; I've only used these towels once.
Her: Are you sure? It wouldn't be any trouble!

If I'd been caffeinated I might have picked up on the subtext, but it wasn't until later that I found myself wondering: is this policy costing people jobs? I'm guessing that very few people become hotel housekeepers if they have other options; is my desire to go gently on the planet at odds with my desire not to make it harder on people in low-end jobs who want to work?

This is far from the first time I've faced the "but the candle-makers will go out of business if we adopt lightbulbs!" idea, but this may be the first time that the "other side" of the issue isn't either convenience or economics but, rather, a liberal value. I mean, I pump my own gas even though there used to be people who do that, and I'm fine with that. I'd use the grocery self-checkout if it worked better, but I find the human cashiers to be faster and more accurate. I do stuff online that used to require dealing with a (paid) human being. Somehow this feels different. I'm not sure if I should care, but I did take notice of it.

I left a decent tip on check-out day.


A commenter pointed out that cleaning the room and replacing the linens are different operations -- one can still make up the bed, empty the trash, restock the amenities, and so on, while leaving the linens as they are. This was a point I had not considered.