Over the last decade, there has been a significant rise in the number of travelers globally who have become conscious about the carbon footprint they leave when they’re on vacation or away for work. If you’re someone who wants to tread more lightly on the earth when you travel, it’s important to look for eco-friendly hotels where possible. Whether you’re looking for some Niagara Falls hotel packages or a Grand Canyon getaway, read on for some tips about what to look for when going green on your travels.
Memberships and Associations
Perhaps the best way to spot a sustainable accommodation option is to see which places are members of green clubs and associations or have been certified by legitimate sustainable organizations. For example, a well-regarded initiative is the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). Companies must meet a minimum of a variety of strict sustainability criteria to obtain certification.
You can also be on the lookout for LEED-certified hotels as this will indicate that the company follows green practices. In addition, another popular option is the 4 Green Keys Rating from the Green Key Eco-Rating Program.
For starters, look for a hotel that has made eco-friendly decisions in the materials used, in construction, in decoration and in day-to-day operations. These days it’s easier than ever for companies to make economically sound, sustainable design choices, as there are more earth-supporting materials to select from than ever.
For example, as a hotel is being built, sustainable operators will look for materials such as recycled timbers or fast-growing bamboo instead of virgin timber. There are more eco-friendly plastics and other materials on the market now, as well. Sustainable options are also available for fittings and fixtures, e.g. tables, railings, bench tops, stairs and the like.
Accommodation providers obviously use all sorts of materials to run their business on a day-to-day basis. More sustainable hotels will choose recycled, organic or natural options for things like towels, sheets, napery, bathroom amenities and so on. Better choices include items made from bamboo, jute, organic cotton, hemp and recycled and biodegradable materials.
Hotels should also look at making more responsible choices when it comes to kitchen supplies and cleaning equipment and products. They can use locally-grown, biodynamic and organic produce or even use ingredients grown on site and clean using non-toxic, chemical free cleaners, laundry detergents and the like.
To choose more sustainable accommodation, look into the ways hotels handle waste. Since most lodgings, particularly the large ones, tend to have a high level of consumption and send a lot to landfills, it helps to find a company that reduces waste wherever possible.
For instance, the most-eco hotels are those which provide recycling bins for guests, which utilize compost heaps for scraps and other items and which throw out less food in their kitchens because they plan menus carefully and find ways to increase operational efficiency.
In addition, hotels accumulate waste because of disposable toiletries and other items they provide to guests. More sustainable options include using liquid soap dispensers instead of individual cakes of soap and giving guests access to multipurpose or reusable products.
Eco-friendly accommodation operators make efforts to reduce the energy usage of their buildings. Again, this is an area which can really add up quickly, since most guests don’t care about leaving lights or appliances on when they’re traveling.
To reduce consumption, hotels can make numerous operational improvements. For starters, they can convert to solar power and install eco-friendlier light bulb options throughout. There are also more energy-friendly appliances to pick from in spaces such as guest rooms, laundries, kitchens and business centers.
To cut back on energy drained from lighting, firms can put in motion sensors for light fixtures or set up timer-operated lights. Another helpful idea is to introduce key cards which have to be inserted in points before power comes on in rooms.
Hotels also usually have high water usage levels, mainly because of the huge amount of laundry which needs to be done each week to clean bedroom sheets, towels, napery in kitchens and dining areas, staff uniforms and more.
To make an accommodation choice that’s eco-friendlier, look for a hotel that encourages guests to re-use their linen and towels instead of having fresh sheets put on beds and new towels delivered each day. Furthermore, water-saving devices can be used, such as showerheads, toilets and washing machines. Hotels should also conduct regular maintenance work to pick up on leaking taps or toilet cisterns.