So you’ve got your ideal green vacation planned out. For exotic destinations, you’ve made reservations for full immersion cultural tours, kayaking excursions, and multi-day hikes. You’ve even got your eco-friendly backpack and gear all ready to go. Or, if you’re headed to a city, then you’ve got your bike, your responsible whale watch tickets, and your list of sustainable restaurants. But what about lodging?
Even though where to stay at your destination is one of the central concerns of any vacation, it can be difficult to track down a truly eco-friendly hotel for your green adventures. Many hotels generate a lot of waste, use too much energy, and don’t recycle enough. Fortunately, there are several hotel chains and even independent hotels that are making great strides in improving their sustainability efforts across the board.
If you’re looking for a green hotel for your next eco-vacation, keep in mind these qualifications for what makes an eco-friendly hotel. Many hotels publicize their eco-friendly habits, so it can be easy to find this information online or by calling as you do your research on where to say.
Recycling, recycling, recycling
It may sound like a no-brainer, but there are still hotels out there that don’t embrace the full range of what it means to truly recycle as much as possible. While basically everyone makes to sure properly recycle aluminum cans and paper, there are many more ways to recycle in the world of hospitality. Some hotels offer toiletries bottled in recycled plastic. Hotel cafés can offer napkins and disposable cutlery made out of recycled paper and plastic. A few hotels even provide uniforms made out of recycled fabrics to their employees.
This is an area where hotel customers can play a role, too. Remember those nice little signs that ask you to reuse towels? Well, the green traveler should definitely take them up on their offer to reuse towels and not change sheets. The sheer amount of water wasted on unnecessary laundry in hotels is staggering, and every little bit of laundry avoided helps. Some hotels look for reusability in other ways, too, like those that donate partially used toiletries to companies who recycle them and turn them into new bath products. Others opt for wall dispensers for toiletries, which reduces waste substantially.
Did you know that even the hotel restaurant can take steps to be sustainable? From organic produce to locally sourced food, there are many ways that hotel dining services can work towards a more sustainable future. In a lot of places, that means getting their produce, meat, and dairy from someplace local, to reduce carbon emissions from transit and to support the local farmers. It also means opting for farms that practice sustainability in their own productions – this is especially important with seafood. And of course, organic options can’t hurt either: they reduce the level of pesticides in the environment and make things just a little bit healthier for everyone.
Build Smart Hotels
New hotels have an advantage when it comes to being eco-friendly. They can adopt the greenest and most sustainable building standards out there (in the U.S., that’s LEED certification) and make sure that all new construction adheres to green building codes and qualification. Typically this includes things such as building energy efficient buildings, using sustainable or recycled materials, and minimizing waste. While, of course, not every hotel has the benefit of being new construction, it’s also important for any new additions or renovations to follow these eco-friendly guidelines, too. Some hotels even have green roofs to reduce heating and cooling costs, and sometimes, to provide food to their restaurants!
Hotels that use Less Energy
One of the most important ways for a hotel to be environmentally responsible is to use less energy. This can range from using energy efficient appliances and light bulbs to toilets and washing machines that use less water. While hotels don’t usually have the luxury of access to the kinds of technology that allows for complete energy independence (the ability to provide all the energy they need without relying upon a power grid), there are important steps they can take, including looking for alternative sources of power like solar arrays.