The History of Eco-Friendly Hotels
Although you might not think it, hotels can be one of the least eco-friendly parts of your trip; it can have as big an impact on the environment as the mode of transport you choose. If you get it wrong you may as well wave good-bye to those brownie points you thought were in the bank when you opted for an international train that took for times as long as a plane would have (not that I hate long journeys or anything).
Something like an airplane damages the environment with a catastrophic whack, so it’s easy to see why people focus on this part of their trip, but there are hundreds of tiny ways in which hotels trickle in the damage.
The frustrating thing is, though, the tiny things are the easiest to change. Airlines might take some convincing to remodel their entire fleet of jets, but getting a hotel to stop giving out miniature bottles and switching out lights during the daytime is actually quite feasible!
It’s just hit me that I’m talking like a fuddy middle-aged person.
It’s like I hit 22 and stopped going out-out in favour of staying at home with my boyfriend watching Marvel films and playing Minecraft.
I’m not trying to sound like a total eco-moaner, but I AM frustrated at how long it’s taken for hotels to start catching on… we’re all here trying to put an effort in and they’re still decades behind (for the most part, anyway, but I’ll get on to that).
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What’s So Bad About Hotels?
I’m not gonna lie – hotels can be so much fun. You really get to feel pampered for a while, and everyone around you seems to go the extra mile to make sure you’re taken care of. It’s lovely! But that doesn’t mean that care can’t be taken for the environment, too. For context, I’ve put together a small list of the worst things about hotels that are damaging for the environment.
- They’re often old buildings with inefficient plumbing and electrical systems (which, yes, would cost a small fortune to replace, but in the long run they’d see a huge reduction in bills).
- Because of the above, large buildings like this often have leaks that nobody’s noticed, which can account for huge water wastage, especially in pools and hot tubs.
- Laundering sheets and towels every night uses a huge (and I mean HUGE) amount of water – I’m loving the “we won’t wash them unless you specifically indicate that you’d like them washed” policy that most hotels seem to have rolled out recently.
- Miniature toiletries – man, these do my head in! What’s wrong with a big sharing bottle? Or, even better, refillable bottles?
- Lack of recycling facilities; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a recycling bin in a hotel before, which is a great shame because it’s so easy to do.
- Buffet food waste isn’t a massive issue (as long as it gets composted), but the energy and plastic packaging it took to make so much surplus food that just ended up in the bin? That’s a bit more of a problem.
- The cleaning products used in hotels are usually full of chemicals (although some of this is necessary to comply with health and safety regulations).
- Single-use plastic is a big issue in cleaning, too; brownie points to the hotels that dilute on site.
- Communal areas always seem to be lit up in hotels, even in the middle of the day! Even where natural light isn’t enough to get by, they don’t need to be on all the time. In my flat building, they only come on when someone opens a door.
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How You Can Be Eco-Friendly
Finding somewhere eco-friendly to stay can be a real challenge, especially on a budget, but here are a few options!
Staying in Hostels
You can get private rooms with private bathrooms, but they’re much more low-key than a hotel which means they don’t have as many eco-issues and they’re often much cheaper. I always go with Hostelling International because they have Assured Standards, and they’ve recently brought out a “Quality and Sustainability” certification too! (You can probably tell how excited that made me
lame). Staying in Britain, you can also get loads of benefits by being a member of the Youth Hostel Association.
Finding an Eco-Friendly Hotel
Decide which issues are most important to you (water pollution, air pollution, landfill waste, etc) and stick to it – every hotel will have it’s opinions, but if you’re looking for one specific thing you’ll usually find it much easier. Don’t forget to ditch the single-use travel minis, keep your towels until they need washing and recycle wherever possible!
Renting your own apartment might sound expensive, but if there are a few of you it can actually turn out much cheaper. Plus, you don’t get most of hotels’ bad habits; you can choose how you do things which (I hope) is much more eco friendly.
If you’ve got any tips, don’t forget to let us know in the comments!