If you’re a frequent traveler, surely you must have even just a basic idea of how traveling adds to your environmental footprint. Now, more and more travelers are becoming mindful of being as eco-friendly as possible as they travel around the world. There are many ways to go about this — using public transportation to get around the city, eating plant-focused diets, shopping locally, and staying at eco-friendly hotels.
Eco-friendly travel has been around for quite a long time already, but it was only recently that more travelers are becoming aware of its importance. They take the time to choose destinations that have environment-friendly initiatives and selecting hotels or lodging that incorporate eco-friendly practices into their daily operations.
What was once just a niche is gradually becoming a constant travel preference. According to the U.N. World Tourism Organization, there will be an estimated 1.6 billion eco-friendly trips by 2020 (these figures were projected pre-pandemic). Hotels are well aware of the benefits they will reap from green travel, from cost savings to risk management.
A survey from Booking.com found that 68% of tourists have a preference for eco-friendly accommodations. An article from The Washington Post cited a study that reveals that 60% of travelers in the U.S. took “sustainable trips” during the last three years. Agoda.com also discovered that 40% of travelers were willing to shell out an additional $10 per night to stay in a sustainable resort.
What Exactly is an Eco-friendly Hotel?
This is an establishment that takes initiatives to lessen its environmental impact while still conducting their business. There are lots of factors that determine what makes a hotel eco-friendly. They make use of building commissioning services to see if the hotel is energy-efficient. They have solid recycling and composting programs. These hotels make use of energy-saving lighting and aim to reduce water wasting. They cut out all or most of the plastic they use. The hotels also provide reusable dishes and cutlery for food service.
These establishments also work to get certified by organizations such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which awards buildings that have environmentally-friendly designs. Another is the Environmental Media Association (EMA), which certifies hotels that practice energy and water efficiency, waste management, and biodiversity conservation.
So as a traveler, how can you tell if your hotel is observing these practices? The key is in the details, which include the following: usage of sensors for controlling lights, temperature, and electronics settings, providing green cleaning products and toiletries, alternative energy sources, composting, low-flow showerheads, and farm-to-table dining.
Who Stays in Eco-friendly Hotels?
Baby boomers and millennials make up the bigger percentage of eco-conscious travelers. Since they have more money to spend and more time to choose their travels, Baby boomers are capable of patronizing eco-friendly establishments.
Meanwhile, many millennials are much aware of the importance of sustainability, and they are twice as likely to favor brands that give importance to social and environmental issues. Traveling green satisfies their need to take vacations responsibly, which enhances their travel experience and makes it more satisfying.
How Can You Find an Eco-friendly Hotel?
Accommodation booking websites such as Agoda or Booking.com indicate if a certain establishment is eco-friendly. They must have the usual green certifications from LEED or EMA. You can also check the hotel’s website, which will certainly mention if their establishment has such certifications.
If you are having trouble finding an eco-friendly hotel in your intended destination, you can stay in an Airbnb accommodation as a practical and easy alternative. You can ask the host directly about their sustainable practices.
If you have no choice but to book for just any hotel for your vacation, you can still reduce your footprint by doing eco-friendly practices during your stay. You can turn off the lights and air-conditioning when you go out of your room. You can bring your own toiletries to use instead of the ones that the hotel provides. Better yet, you can call ahead and request that they don’t put those products in your room. Ask for reusable cutleries if they give you plastic ones.
Another prominent eco-friendly practice is to decline to have your room cleaned or serviced. Housekeeping services are required for each room daily, but as a guest, you can simply hang the “Do Not Disturb” or “Do Not Service” sign in your door, so the maids will leave your room alone. Doing this will save the cost of replacing items that you can use more than once, such as towels, linens, and toiletries.
Eco-friendly travel can begin by booking an eco-conscious hotel. But if that’s not possible, be mindful of your behaviors and preferences to make your stay as environmentally friendly as possible.