As the world becomes more aware of the environmental and social impact that occurs while traveling, an increased focus on developing eco-friendly hotels has evolved. Several popular online travel marketplaces now have sustainability recognition programs for hotels, allowing them to be shown as a “Travel Sustainable property” on the platform. Many accommodations also present themselves as “eco-friendly hotels,” “eco-hotels,” or “sustainable hotels.” These terms are great marketing tools to appeal to environmentally conscious travelers trying to do the right thing. Still, there often needs to be more clarity about what these labels mean and what truly differentiates the hotels that use them from others.
To better understand what makes a hotel eco-friendly, we have compiled a list of features that will allow you to make a more conscious choice when selecting your stay.
ENERGY AND WATER SAVING SYSTEMS
Reducing energy and water consumption is essential for the environment. It is also beneficial for the hotel because it helps control and reduce operating costs while increasing the value of the hotel’s brand among visitors.
SUSTAINABLE LOCAL FOODS, PRODUCTS, AND SERVICES
Foods, products, and services that are sourced locally contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of eco-hotels. This effort also decreases transport costs and benefits the community’s economy.
EFFORTS TO REDUCE THE USE OF PLASTIC
Eco-friendly hotels generally make an effort to eliminate single-use plastic, such as travel-size toiletry, straws, cups, etc.
ECO AND BIODEGRADABLE CLEANING PRODUCTS
Because chemical detergents significantly impact the environment, sustainable hotels usually opt for biodegradable and eco products. This also applies to personal hygiene products provided to guests.
FACILITATING AND ENCOURAGING GUESTS TO REDUCE THEIR FOOTPRINT
Travelers should be part of the sustainability efforts and be encouraged to follow certain practices, such as turning off the lights and AC when not in the room, reusing towels, and recycling.
SUSTAINABLE MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION
Eco-hotels should promote sustainable transportation, such as the rental of electric or hybrid cars, electric bicycles, or scooters, or be accessible by public transportation when possible.
Certifications are optional for sustainable hotels and, because of their high costs, are often more obtainable by prominent companies than smaller accommodations. Hotels can earn several globally recognized certifications. These are some of the most common:
- Green Key: Green Key is the hospitality industry’s leading standard for excellence when it comes to sustainability certifications. This prestigious eco-label represents the commitment to comply with the rigorous Green Key criteria established by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), the world’s largest environmental organization.
- Green Globe: Green Globe is one of the most rigorous eco certifications for eco-hotels globally. It includes 44 criteria in four groups and is supported by over 385 compliance indicators.
- Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC): the GSTC criteria focus on sustainable management, socioeconomic impact, cultural impact, and environmental impact. It takes into consideration sustainable tourism guidelines and standards from around the world.
- LEED: this certification applies to newly built hotels constructed from scratch with sustainable practices in mind.
- Travel Sustainable Programs: Even if they can’t technically be considered official certifications, there are now several travel booking platforms, such as TripAdvisor and Booking.com, that offer programs allowing different types of accommodations, from B&Bs to hotels and resorts, to be recognized as eco-friendly, through a criteria model verified by independent sustainability experts.
Putting effort into reducing your travel carbon footprint requires making intentional choices regarding various aspects of your trip. One of these is the selection of your accommodation. You will now better understand the factors to consider when looking for eco-friendly hotels for your next adventure!
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