May 18, 2009

Is your ecohotel really green? How to tell

Helpful tips to help you make an informed decision when booking an eco hotel
With pollution and climate change as ever-growing concerns, it is evident that every social sector needs to play a more active role in mitigating the negative impact of their actions and strive for sustainability. The tourism industry is stepping up to the plate in this struggle for sustainability and setting environmentally sound goals and standards. 
In this context, the ecohotel is gaining rapid popularity. Consumers are becoming more aware of their impact on the environment, and are opting for green accommodations that tend to minimize their environmental footprint when traveling. But what are green accommodations? How can travelers know when they’re choosing eco hotels and not conventional hotels that simply advertise an eco friendly image? It’s necessary to provide a concrete definition of what an eco hotel actually is, so that travelers can make more informed decisions when booking accommodations and hotel owners can better understand how to provide for consumer demands. Generally speaking, Ecotrotters defines ecohotels as those which:
  • Make important environmental improvements to their structure and practices in order to minimize their impact on the environment
  • Place an emphasis on sustainability and environmental conservation
  • Consider the needs of local communities and promote fair trade
  • Promote knowledge and understanding of sustainability and ecological practices
When booking your accommodations, try to look for hotels that minimize their impact by employing simple practices such as using natural cooling as opposed to air conditioning, replacing incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lamps, installing low-flow shower heads and toilets, and offering a sheet and towel reuse program whereby guests have their linens exchanged every few days instead of daily. All these simple actions provide great benefits to the environment by reducing the amount of energy needed. Recycling is another sound practice, which can include composting kitchen materials and recycling waste water. Something else you can check for when making a decision as to whether your accommodations are eco friendly or not is the hotel’s use of its grounds. Hotels are moving a step closer to sustainability, and are thus greener, when they grow their own produce or buy ingredients produced locally to prepare the food offered to their guests.
Social responsibility is another key factor when determining how green a hotel is. Eco hotels must have a deep respect for local culture and traditions and provide jobs for the local and/or indigenous populations. They should also offer environmental training programs for staff and environmental courses and seminars for hotel guests, as well as participate in ecological projects off hotel property. Check if your choice accommodations follow any of these practices. 
These are just some examples of eco measures employed by green hotels. However, the consumer must be careful not to fall prey to those establishments that claim to be environmentally friendly when in fact they are not. Guests shouldn’t hesitate to ask if a hotel has a written policy concerning environmental initiatives and relations with local people. As there are currently more than 100 eco certification programs worldwide with different standards, perhaps what guests must first do is familiarize themselves with the general criteria that make a hotel green, and decide which suits their needs and objectives. 


Ecotrotters.com - Eco Articles - Is your ecohotel really green? How to tell

1 comments:

Green Hotels said...

A great resource for your readers looking for "Green" hotels is iStayGreen.org.

A dedicated "Green" web site, iStayGreen.org is helping to make environmentally friendly lodging easy to find and book.

iStayGreen.org is currently the most frequented online booking site for "Green" lodging. Over 3,500 of the properties listed are environmentally friendly and over 500 have been awarded the Green Eco-Leaf Rating.

The eco initiatives of the property are clearly listed. This allows the users to determine what factors are important and then compare properties.

Users are encouraged to contribute "Green" Reviews and environmentally rate the hotels they visit.

It's like Tripadvisor - Facebook - Travelocity all together in one site for the environmentally concious traveler.