Sustainibility & Travel: The Eco-Footprint of Accommodations

Rachael Baihn
January 16, 2024

Traveling to sustainable locations is important in protecting the environment that we travel to visit. Making sure that our presence while traveling isn’t damaging the local ecosystems is an important aspect of travel that many millennials increasingly want to support. Here are some ways to make sure that your chosen accommodation has a healthy eco-footprint:

Solar Power Hotels

Many hotels and accommodations are transitioning to harnessing the power of solar energy within their buildings. Consider any kind of solar energy that the hotel offers including solar power panels on the roof as well as solar powered lights that are readily available worldwide. Solar power technology has grown so much in recent years that it has allowed many solar power accessories to become available in many parts of the world.


Use of Sustainable Products

The eco-footprint of many accommodations is easily understood by the products that they use on a daily basis. Items like bamboo flooring and wood dishware are better for the environment than plastic cups that are used poolside. An easy check is the use of small, travel size shampoo and conditioner bottles in your bathroom. In an effort to be more sustainable, even larger hotel chains like Marriot and the Intercontinental are phasing these out for larger, long-lasting pump bottles. Ask about the different options like organic cotton bathrobes, sheets, pillows, and towels that help support the environment as well.


Location to Local Food Sources

Hotels that feature local foods have an important role in the environment. Accommodations that support nearby farmers’ markets and local food suppliers mean that less carbon is being used to transport food from thousands of miles away. Not only is the food fresher but it also echoes the beauty of the local cuisine that is used in the area. If you are staying at a beach location choose a hotel that uses freshly caught fish from local fishermen in an effort to help support the environment and the local economy.   


Availability of Non-Carbon Transportation

Many eco-friendly hotels are offering bicycles that guests can borrow for the day. This not only encourages visitors to explore the area in a healthy way but also encourages guests to limit carbon emissions from cars and buses. Access to clean walkways and paths to other parts of the city are also things to look for in an eco-friendly hotel.


Green Building Certifications

Hotels that are considered to be green buildings will most likely have some sort of certification or accreditation. The most common is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, building rating system that rates buildings based on their eco-footprint.  All sorts of buildings, ranging from football stadiums to museums have achieved a LEED Platinum rating.

There are many hotels that have received LEED accreditation, and by favoring these, you are helping the environment as you travel.

Monitor Use of Water

As a very important natural resource, the way in which the hotel uses (or misuses) water is imperative to their eco-footprint. Look for accommodations that collect rainwater in barrels or have a greywater system in order to cut down on water usage. Other ways that hotels in more remote areas can save on water include low-flow showerheads and dual flush toilets that can drastically cut down on overall water usage. Sink aerators and upgraded laundry systems are also great ways that a hotel can minimize their use of water.

There are plenty of important aspects to look for when booking an accommodation that has a low eco-footprint. Do your research to help plan a sustainable trip!

Rachael Baihn
Rachael Baihn is an avid gardener, both indoors and in her backyard sanctuary. She can often be found exploring nature off the beaten track or enjoying the company of local neighborhood dogs.


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