For you as a tourist, many different accommodation options are available; hotels, camping, hostels, homestays, holiday villages etc. To facilitate, we use the term accommodation facilities as an umbrella term further on in the text. For an accommodation facility to be environmentally friendly, a holistic approach is required. Below is a list of areas where accommodation facilities can implement measures for environmental improvement. These are things that you as a tourist can look for when choosing accommodation, or if you live somewhere where improvements can be made, ask for these things and inspire a conscious and sustainable thinking. Read more for information and advice for conscious hotel and accommodation.
Water, energy use and waste management
- Energy use. How much energy is consumed and whether it is renewable has a major impact on the environment. Measures such as demand-regulated lighting, ventilation and heating play a major role. An example is when the electricity in the room is connected to the key card so that no lighting is on when the guest is not there.
- Water consumption. Water is not an infinite resource and today there is a shortage of water in many places in the world. Watering in the evening is a great water-saving measure as the water during the day easily evaporates and therefore does not soak into the soil. Installing low-flush toilets is another example of an environmental improvement measure which facilities can implement. Heating water also requires energy.
- Wastewater management. When wastewater flows directly into local watercourses it is a major environmental problem as well as a potential health problem. Wastewater must be treated before it spreads in nature.
- Waste disposal. Recycling rubbish saves energy. It is desirable if accommodation facilities have good internal recycling routines and offer recycling opportunities for guests.
Cleaning, purchasing, and working conditions
- Cleaning supplies and cleaning routines. Detergents contain substances which can affect the environment. Accommodation facilities can limit the use of strong cleaning agents and clean without using liquids when possible, to reduce the consumption of water and detergents.
- Washing of sheets and towels. Many accommodation facilities ask guests to keep towels, so they do not need to be washed every day. Some go even further and make sure that the detergent used is eco-labelled and that there is no excessive dosage.
- Purchase. Conscious purchasing can mean that the accommodation facility chooses environmentally friendly goods in everything from bedding to the paper material in the office. Bedding, pillows, and duvets made of organic cotton are preferable as cotton production requires significant resources. Read more about cotton here.
- Breakfast and food service. Using organic food means that chemical pesticides and fertilizers have not been used. Locally produced food means that energy-intensive transports have been used to a small extent. Read more about food and groceries here.
- Working conditions. Some in the tourism industry work long shifts, with low wages and without the right to organize. Ask about the working conditions at the accommodation facility where you live. Some tour operators also have labels when it comes to working conditions.
- The construction. In new construction, there are many environmentally friendly materials to use. In the case of existing buildings, changes during renovation and rebuilding can be major areas for improvement. With that said, it does not have to be bad with an old accommodation facility, it takes a lot of energy to build a new one.
Advice for conscious hotel and accommodation
- Stay with a local (e.g., couch-surfing) or rent an apartment/house (e.g., seasonal accommodation that is empty for the rest of the year).
- If possible, choose an accommodation that is locally owned so that the money stays in the local community.
- Tents – stick to prepared tent sites.
- Choose an accommodation facility that has an eco-label or a genuine sustainable profile. Be critical and see if they fulfill what they say.
- Choose an accommodation facility that serves organic and locally produced food. Otherwise, go out and find cosy organic cafes and restaurants to eat at.
Once you have checked in
- Turn off the lights and turn off the air conditioning when you leave the room.
- Reduce your waste and recycle as much as possible.
- Do not shower unnecessarily long, especially in a country with water shortages.
- Do not use the disposable items in the toilet if you do not absolutely need them
- Tell the staff that towels and sheets do not need to be washed every day.
- And maybe the room does not need to be cleaned every day?
Page updated 2021.