I’m puzzling over what makes a good guest. If we are all going to save water, recycle and tread lightly on the world, how are we supposed to do it?

We’re in California right now where the big issue is saving water. Should visitors try to save water when there doesn’t seem to be a water-saving shower installed in a single motel or rental unit we’ve stayed in from Mendocino to Reno, Nevada? Is it ok to take a long shower/use a lot of towels because we are away from home? (I’d say no, but it’s tempting. In a hotel you’re not charged by the gallon for water.)

When we stay in a hotel or rental place we are often on vacation, reinforcing the idea that someone else will clean up because we’re temporary visitors, and have paid for the privilege. Do we really have to recycle? What if there are no bins–do we have to carry our empty plastic containers across state lines?

In addition to hotels/motels/rentals, the most surprising place where you’re unlikely to see recycling bins is in a marina. Isn’t that a contradiction? Wouldn’t you expect people who live/vacation/play on the water to be the most conscious of pollution and related issues?

Rental properties are my current home, and I’ve been considering them particularly closely. The issues are the same: how much water to use/save (should we use the garbage disposal)? The ants were here before we arrived–they just reemerged when they smelled crumbs. Do I have to buy Raid?

At our last rental, we were asked to wash all the sheets and towels before we left–a previous tenant commented on having to do that since we are all charged a cleaning fee. Finding the right balance is not that easy, is it?