How To Choose a Green / Eco Friendly Hotel?

A farm in the Netherlands

If you want to enjoy green travel, then choosing an eco-friendly and sustainable place to stay is a big part of the equation. In this article, we will explore some of the issues that you should consider when choosing a green hotel.

But before we begin, let’s first question whether or not a hotel is really the best and greenest option. Should you Stay in a Hotel? Before choosing a green hotel, it is a good idea to consider other eco-friendly and sustainable accommodation options. For example, other options that are just as green, or greener include:

  • Camping or ‘glamping’ options.
  • Farm stay/ home stay options.
  • Sustainable B&Bs, guest houses or hostels.

Which one you choose will of course depend on your personal preferences and on your budget. While camping is obviously not for everyone, if you are youngish, and relatively healthy, it is most definitely something to consider. Camping can be far more luxurious than you might imagine.

‘Glamping’ or glamorous camping, as it is called, can offer a stay on a par with hotel accommodation. So you could still choose a sustainable glamping option even if tent camping and ‘roughing it’ is not your cup of tea.

Low impact camping or glamping offers opportunities to get close to the natural world, and sustainable campsites can have only minimal impact on the environment both locally and globally.

Whichever sort of accommodation you choose, here are some of the things that you should be sure to bear in mind when trying to find a green option:

Consider How the Accommodation Was Built

Remember that a large part of the carbon cost of tourism is in the construction of accommodation and other tourist facilities. Sustainable options might make use of existing structures. They may also reduce the impact of construction by using reclaimed materials, eco-friendly options, and natural materials like,for example, wood, straw and clay.

When choosing a green hotel, it is worth bearing in mind where the accommodation was built. Was habitat destroyed in the process? Is it a green or brown-field site? Would the land used better be utilised for conservation efforts, or for growing food? When choosing sustainable accommodation, it is important to consider not only the carbon cost and other environmental costs of construction, but also the impact it had and has on the surrounding environment.

Consider How It is Furnished and Kitted Out

It is also important to think about how the accommodation has been furnished and kitted out. Is the interior décor natural and non-polluting? Is the furniture upcycled, or made from natural materials? Have all the details been worked out to provide comfortable and attractive accommodation without harming the planet? If the answers are positive, the accommodation in question could be a sustainable choice.

Consider How Much Energy Is Used and Where it Comes From

Of course, another major factor in the sustainability of vacation accommodation is the energy used, and where it comes from. Sustainable accommodation options will always derive their energy from renewable power sources such as solar, wind, or water wherever possible. Such accommodation will also have taken measures to reduce energy use – such as installing low-energy LED lighting, reducing heating or cooling needs through clever design, and by being careful about how and how often laundry is done, for example.

Consider How Much Water is Used and Where it Comes From

Reducing water use is another important factor for sustainable accommodation. A truly sustainable option will be reducing fresh water use wherever possible – again, through careful laundering practice, and through other measures such as greywater catchment and reuse, and perhaps even through replacing water-flushing toilets with a composting system. Sustainable accommodation might also harvest rainwater from roofs and even filter it for use within the premises.

Consider the Food that is Provided

In a truly sustainable system, a place that provides accommodation can also provide a certain amount of locally-grown food grown for guests. Best of all, many sustainable accommodation options grow at least some food on their own premises. By providing organically grown food grown right there, sustainable accommodation options can help reduce food miles, their carbon footprint and plastic pollution.

It is obvious that campsites, farms and rural accommodation can have kitchen gardens. But even sustainable hotels in cities or built-up resorts can provide local, organic food. Food can be, for example, grown on roofs or balconies, or even indoors. Even in small spaces, it is possible to grow a surprising amount when the right techniques are used.

Consider What Happens to Waste on the Premises

Food waste, plastic waste and other forms of waste can be a major problem within the tourism industry. The influx of large numbers of people into an area can put strain on local waste management systems. Sustainable accommodation will always work to get as close to zero waste as possible. Food waste, for example, can be turned into compost to grow more food. Plastic use can be reduced to the point that little to no plastic waste is generated. By reducing, reusing, repairing and recycling, sustainable accommodation owners can do their part to reduce the waste problems.

Consider How the Local Community is Impacted by the Business

One final thing to consider when choosing sustainable accommodation is that no business operates in a vacuum. A truly sustainable accommodation option will always be fully integrated into the local community. It will bring jobs and income to local people, and channel profits back into making the area a better place to live for local people.

Searching out options that have considered and implemented at least some of the things mentioned above can help you make sure that you choose the most sustainable accommodation you can for your next adventure.

Author of our ‘green’ articles is Elizabeth Waddington – a professional writer and a consultant on topics related to permaculture, sustainability, green living and eco travel.

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