This is a problem that is getting worse. How can you tell that the eco accommodation you stay in is actually green? What steps and policies are in place to make the hotel or lodge more sustainable and reduce their impact on the environment?
In this article I will show you how to tell if your eco accommodation is green. But first we will look at why there is a problem in the first place.
Green or greenwashing accommodation:
Greenwashing is something that is unfortunately growing. Greenwashing is a term, which means a hotel, or a business over states their green credentials to ultimately get more sales.
For example a hotel may present themselves as green in their marketing materials because they give guests the option to re-use bed sheets. Although this is a good thing, it does not make a big contribution to the total environmental impact of the hotel or accommodation.
Greenwashing misleads people into paying for their stay under the belief they are actively helping lower their impact on holiday. When these people realise they have been misled about their hotel’s green credentials they then become sceptical of any eco accommodation in the future. This damages the whole eco travel industry.
Why does the industry greenwash?
This simply comes down to increased sales. Savvy hotel and accommodation owners have realised the potential of appealing to eco tourists. Society is more aware about environmental concerns. More people are choosing to reduce the damage of their holidays on the environment. Apart from air travel, the accommodation you stay in will have the biggest impact. Greenwashing is a way of appealing to this large eco conscious clientele.
How to choose eco accommodation:
Below you will find a series of tips and hints on how to spot true eco accommodation. You should find out as much as possible from your eco accommodation before you book.
Always research as much as possible:
Some simple things you can do which will help give you an idea on the green credentials of a hotel or lodge is to read reviews of them. Go on to ecotourism blogs and forums and look to see if anybody has visited where you are staying.
You can also read their online marketing materials. Any serious eco accommodation will actively promote their green credentials with 3rd party eco certification logos, through their content (blogs and articles) and their environmental policy pages.
If you feel like you do not get enough information to make a decision from these sources then you should contact the hotel directly. Ask them as many questions as possible. Use the hints and tips below for inspiration on what to ask them.
True eco accommodation will promote their environmental efforts on their website, social media channels, education and community projects. If your hotel or lodge has no promotional material such as this, then you can be sure it is definitely not green.
How does the eco lodge or hotel save energy? Increasing energy efficiency is a top priority for green accommodation. Some things that an eco accommodation will do to increase energy efficiency is use LED lights. They may also install motion sensors or timers in areas that are not often used.
They will train all staff to be energy efficient. They will turn off lights and turn down air conditioning when rooms are not being used.
Eco accommodation will also purchase appliances from Energy Star where possible. Do they heat their swimming pool with solar panels? Check to see if the hotel is using an environmental management system. This will help them to evaluate and improve their environmental performance.
An eco accommodation will improve water efficiency. Using low-flow showers and low consumption toilets can do this. You should definitely find out what they do with their grey water. Do they recycle it? How is it disposed of?
Green purchasing policies:
All eco lodges and hotels will have a green purchasing policy. This means they source local, seasonal and organic produce for their restaurant. Do they buy products made from recycled materials?
The hospitality industry creates huge amounts of waste worldwide. Any respectable eco accommodation will reduce waste as much as possible. They will use the ‘eliminate, reduce, reuse and recycle’ principle.
They may have recycle bins in guest rooms, the lobby and by the pool. They may also compost waste from the kitchen.
Transport releases large amount of CO2. To help reduce this amount eco accommodation will try to get guests using greener options. They may provide you with bicycles, give you walking maps or information on local public transport.
Green certification for eco accommodation:
There are now many, many green certifications for eco accommodation. The number has increased along with the rise in ecotourism. They are not all the same, and some have fairly relaxed requirements to be accredited. However, there are those, which require 3rd party audits and have incredibly high standards.
One of the best for the UK is the Green Tourism Business Scheme. However, if you are looking for eco accommodation abroad you can check Travelocity. Travelocity was a founding member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. Their Eco-certified Hotel Program meets GSTC criteria for green hotels and includes 3rd party audits.tagseco accommodationeco lodgeecotourism