The Green Traveler

For travelers concerned about green living, eco hotels are becoming more and more popular. Here are some things to look for when determining the credentials of an environmentally friendly hotel.

 

Certification— In the United States, eco hotels have to be certified “green” by a neutral third party or the state they are located in. As eco traveling becomes more popular, the criteria for labeling a hotel eco-friendly are becoming more stringent. In Europe the EU Ecolabel requires that hotels meet minimum health and environmental standards, including reduced waste, reduced energy and water consumption, and providing non-smoking accommodations.

Recycling Programs— A big part of eco travel is reducing your environmental footprint. Eco hotels should offer a comprehensive recycling program. Look for recycling bins in guest rooms and hotel lobbies. Does the hotel offer a newspaper recycling program? What about graywater recycling? Graywater recycling is the reuse of laundry, bath, and dishwater to irrigate hotel lawns and flowerbeds.

Eco Friendly Housekeeping— Another way to determine if a hotel supports eco travel, is to take a look at guest room details. Are soaps and shampoos in wasteful individual packages or larger, bulk containers? Can guests reuse their towels, washcloths, and bed sheets instead of having them laundered each day? When eco traveling, look for reusable dishes, water, and coffee cups in rooms. These details are a sure sign that a hotel is committed to producing less waste every day.

Sustainable, Energy Efficient Buildings— Many newer eco travel hotels are being built using sustainable “green building” principles. Hotels built according to green construction principles may run on renewable energy sources such as wind or solar energy. They may be built using local sustainable resources such as local stone or hardwoods. Many newer buildings also feature natural cooling instead of air conditioning systems.

Local, Organic Food— A final feature to look for when eco traveling is a hotel that serves healthy, locally sourced organic foods. Does the hotel restaurant offer a variety of vegan and vegetarian options? Do guest room mini-bars and refrigerators offer local, natural foods and snacks? Some dedicated hotels may even have on-site gardens where they grow fresh herbs and vegetables for the hotel restaurant.

In the city of London the Lancaster Hotel has undertaken a range of environmental initiatives which has led to it being conferred coveted awards such as the AA's eco-hotel of the year 2012 as well as the Considerate Green Champion on the Year 2012. A good source of seeking out the best eco-hotels closer to your home and outside of the UK is to consult the national hoteliers association and to seek out special awards that have been presented to them. Of you can even just Google "Eco Hotel of the Year" + your country or "Hotel" "Green Awards" and your country. The marvels of modern search!