Consider two hotels of comparable appearance and price: one has a sustainable certification, and one does not. Which do you choose? Today, the majority of travelers are opting for eco-friendly hotels to reduce the environmental impact of their travels. But how do you as a traveler know which hotels are eco-friendly, and which are not?
The answer is sustainable certification. These certificates are eco-friendly labels that are awarded to accommodations once they meet a strict standard of sustainability. There are many different eco-labels around the world but one of the leading certificates for accommodations is Green key.
What is Green Key?
Green Key is a sustainability certification which is operated by the world’s largest environmental organization, Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). Currently, there are more than 3,000 eco-friendly establishments in 65 different countries that hold the green key certification.
In 2016, Green Key achieved ‘GSTC-Recognized’ status. Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is the organization managing global standards for sustainable tourism and providing international accreditation for sustainable tourism certification bodies. The GSTC found the criterias of Green Key certificate to meet global standards for sustainable hospitality. This designation is important because it signifies that their criterias are meeting the highest criteria in the world.
How it Works:
To earn the Green Key Sustainability Certification, a hotel (or other accommodation) must apply. Upon application, the company must showcase the sustainability practices they have in place as well as their plan for continued improvement. This applies to hotels, hostels, small accommodations, campsites, holiday parks, conference centers, restaurants, and tourist attractions.
Next, a third party will perform an on-site audit. The auditor will assess 13 different categories ranging from company policy, energy use, waste management, and social issues. Green Key holders need to be committed to serving the communities in which they exist, not just the environment.
Once a Green Key certification is granted, the company must reapply each year to maintain their status. Additionally, audits will take place after the second year, and every three years after that.
Some examples of sustainability in an eco-friendly hotel room may include locally sourced toiletries, food, and beverages, water-saving toilets, recycling bins, or encouragement to reuse your towel.
How to Find Green Key Accommodations for Your Next Trip:
- Look for the Green Key Logo: If consult a hotel website before booking, look for the Green key Logo on their page.
- Online Booking partner: Expedia, ecohotels.com, and 18 other platforms update their sites yearly to showcase the Green key label.
- Choose a Green Key Hotel Chain: Partnerships include Radisson Hotel Group, BWH Hotel Group (Best Western, etc.), Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, and more.
- Green Key Map: This world map on the Green Key website displays all the hotels and their websites with the certification.
Green Key is a phenomenal organization, committed to holding the tourism industry to the highest standards, while also committing to educating travelers and businesses in sustainability.
Before your next holiday, look for eco-friendly hotels with a sustainable certification. These certificates are not limited to Green Key. Make sure to take a look at other certifications such as LEED, Green Globe, GTA Global, Green Seal, or the Audubon Green Lodging Program.
Would you like to know more about eco-friendly travel?
To receive inspiration direct to your email inbox, please click here and subscribe to the Ecotourism World newsletter!