What are sustainable hotels or green hotels? Do they exist? The whole world talks about sustainability and avoiding plastic. Can one also take a holiday in a hotel and keep the ecological footprint as small as possible? Yes, you can. The next time you book a hotel holiday, the following points can serve as a guide to how people, animals and the environment are treated on site. Don’t be afraid to ask the hotel beforehand or to make your own suggestions for improvement on sustainability in the hotel. Environmental protection and sustainability starts with each one of us.
What can hotels do for the environment? These criteria will help you to recognise whether a hotel is sustainable:
A sustainable hotel uses renewable energy sources
There are many ways for hotels to power their electricity, hot water, or heating systems without relying on nuclear or coal power – for example, solar or biogas energy. Even if there is no private power generation facility in the hotel, it can still draw green electricity from a local supplier to be a sustainable hotel.
A sustainable hotel doesn’t waste water
Water is in short supply in the popular warm holiday regions around the Mediterranean. A sustainable hotel exchanges towels and linen at the request of the guests. At home you use a towel more than once. Nevertheless, 5-star hotels often exchange towels every day. It’s more sustainable to let the hotel staff know if and when you would like your towel exchanged. That way, it is up to you how often it’s washed. This, of course, reduces water consumption enormously. Additionally, sustainable hotels use service water or desalinated seawater for toilet water.
A sustainable hotel avoids rubbish
Hopefully, the terrible images of cluttered oceans spoiled by rubbish and fish with bellies full of plastic will make all people rethink their plastic consumption. Better sooner than later. Sustainable hotels avoid plastic waste by dispensing with plastic drinking straws and offer biodegradable substitutes only upon request. A sustainable hotel does not use disposable crockery and separates the rubbish, which is then properly recycled.
A sustainable hotel prefers local and seasonal products
Due to long transport times, imported foods are less fresh and less environmentally friendly than seasonal fruits and vegetables coming from the region. A sustainable hotel will offer you a selection of local cheese, for example, rather than fly in imported cheeses, or even produce certain foods themselves. Some hotels have their own bakeries or a vegetable and herb garden. It doesn’t get any fresher, or more eco-friendly.
A sustainable hotel treats its staff fairly
The hotel staff can make or break the feel-good factor of your holiday. Unhappy employees who are treated badly often radiate that, too. A sustainable hotel cares about fair working conditions and fair pay, equality, and compatibility of job and family. In some regions, tourism is the biggest economic industry and nourishes whole regions of the country. Sustainability happens when feel-good holidays help the people and local industries around the hotel feel good too.
A sustainable hotel shows local social commitment
A sustainable hotel also commits itself to the well-being of the local people and region. Engagement can take many forms: offering training programmes to young people in regions where there are no formal educational institutions in tourism; educating school classes on the subject of environmental protection; environmental tours for locals and hotel guests, such as beach clean-up; raising awareness about the dangers of sex tourism and trafficking with minors, or making donations to, for example, the TUI Care Foundation, which works with meaningful projects for sustainable tourism in the target areas.
A sustainable hotel is committed to animal welfare
Stray dogs and cats don’t have an easy life. Sustainable hotels take care of strays (e.g. with a cat hotel) or support local shelters with the medical care of the animals.
A sustainable hotel can demonstrate its commitment with certifications
Everyone can talk a lot. But only the hotels proven to meet certain sustainability standards win awards. You can consult the individual certification standards from the respective awarding organisation, or you can inquire about it directly from the hotel. What sustainability certifications are there? Certifications in the hotel sector include, for example, Travelife, TUI Environmental Champion, Green Key, Green Star, and the Blue Flag.
What can I do to travel more sustainably?
Now you know how to identify a sustainable hotel. Find out how sustainability is implemented at TUI BLUE.