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Being respectful of the planet and its people is something we should all consider when we’re on the road. Choosing trains over flights, shopping local and packing reusable products are just some ways you can become a more conscious traveller.
But have you ever considered staying in eco-friendly accommodation?
Keep reading for an overview of what sustainable accommodation is, what features to look out for and tips to finding environmentally friendly hotels for your next trip.
What is “eco-friendly” and “sustainable” accommodation?
Eco-friendly, or “green”, hotels, hostels or other facilities make a significant effort to keep their environmental impact as low as possible
They often focus on reducing waste, saving energy, cutting down on water usage, using renewable resources and providing a non-toxic environment for guests.
Sustainable hotels are usually designed in a way that respects their surrounding environment and natural wildlife.
Why choose eco-friendly accommodation?
According to UNWTO, tourism is responsible for 5% of the global CO2 emissions. Of this percentage, 20% belongs to hotels due to their use of heating, air conditioning and refrigeration.
Aside from reducing your carbon footprint, there are many compelling reasons to choose sustainable accommodation. For example, getting closer to nature, unplugging from technology and supporting the local community.
what makes a hotel eco-friendly?
There are a few ways you can check that your accommodation is actually eco-friendly. Here are some key questions to consider.
- Have accredited sustainability certifications from a verified eco-certification organisation in their region? Examples include Austrian EcoLabel, Ecotourism Ireland, Ecotourism Australia and EU Ecolabel
- Use renewable, natural and sustainable energy sources?
- Offer environmentally-friendly transport options like bikes or free shuttle busses into town?
- Use locally-sourced, eco-friendly material in their furniture, sheets and bath products?
- Have a recycling and compost program?
- Make an effort to avoid single-use plastics (especially in the bathroom)?
- Source most, if not all, of their food locally or have a fruit and veggie garden? (Bonus points for being a veggie or vegan hotel).
- Host healthy activities that don’t harm the environment like bike rides, hiking trips, yoga or cultural guided tours?
If the accommodation is truly sustainable, you should be able to find a dedicated page on their website with information to back their claims. If you have questions about a hotel’s sustainability practices, send them an email or message them on social media.
watch out for “greenwashing”
Greenwashing is a communication and marketing strategy companies use to appear more environmentally conscious than they actually are.
One sign of greenwashing is inconsistencies with the day-to-day running of the hotel. For example, if they tell you to reuse your towels, but offer unlimited single-use, plastic-wrapped bathroom products. If you’re unable to find statistics, studies or the ‘how’ to back their “green”, “organic” and “sustainable” claims – that’s another red flag.
At the end of the day, the best eco-friendly hotels practice what they preach!
Where to find eco-friendly accommodation
If there are eco-certification organisations in the region you’re heading too, check out their website for accredited hotels. Or, you could try these green-booking platforms.
Green Getaways (Australia)
Hopefully this gives you a better idea about what eco-friendly accommodation is all about, and some inspo for your next trip!
Have you stayed at an eco-friendly hotel or hostel before? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments!