Fresh linens every day. Fun-sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body lotion. Towels in every size imaginable within reach. Now this is living…right?

It’s pretty darn nice to get pampered now and then at a hotel. But the truth is, it’s also harder on the environment. And let’s be honest: are we going to remember the 50 available towels or the super-friendly receptionists and mouth-watering breakfasts?

Fear not — you can have a fabulous hotel stay while being kinder to your surroundings by following even a few of the tips below.

Start with the biggest difference you can make

With the single action of booking an eco-friendly hotel, you’ll be downsizing your footprint dramatically. Eco-friendly hotels and accommodations are designed, built or renovated and managed to make as small an impact on the environment as possible. They’re more energy-efficient, often use local resources in their construction, serve delicious locally-grown food and keep waste to a minimum.

You may be thinking of a wooden hut located in a remote Indonesian jungle, but the world of eco-friendly accommodation has really exploded in response to consumer demand — today you’ll find gorgeous and luxurious hotels across the globe that also happen to be more gentle on the environment.

You can get an overview of the possibilities by going to and using the “Eco-friendly” filter in your search results. Be sure to double check on the accommodation’s own website for details on the steps that have been taken to deem it eco-friendly. Look for environmental labels and certifications that use audits to verify a property’s actions, like Green Key, LEED, Green Tourism, ISO 14001 and GSTC.

It’s not only about the environment

The best eco-friendly accommodations have taken a holistic approach to their initiatives, working not only to minimize their environmental impact but also improve the local economy, community and society.

That means eco-certifications and alternative energy sources aren’t the only things you should be checking for on an accommodation’s website. See if they do even more; like hire locally, support organizations that work to combat local challenges, offer eco tours featuring the flora and fauna or cultural tours demonstrating the area’s traditions, grow and use their own produce, or have led beautifying community projects.

Stay close to the action

This is a simple little tip to keep in mind when choosing the location of your hotel. The closer it is to the local places you want to go on your vacation, the less dependent you’ll be on rental cars and other CO2-emitting means to get there.

Didn’t find eco-friendly accommodation? Don’t fret!

If the place you did end up booking isn’t quite as sustainable as you would’ve liked, there are still plenty of things you can do during your stay to reduce your local carbon footprint. The most natural way to remember these on-location tips is simply to do as you would at home!

Steer clear of plastic

By now everyone knows that plastic is practically the least natural thing in existence…but the majority of establishments still use it in some form because of its convenience. Do a good deed for the planet and avoid the single-use plastic (and styrofoam) cups, plates, utensils, water bottles and – gasp! – yes, even those adorable bottles of shampoo, conditioner and lotion.

Instead, look for reusable or biodegradable tableware (metal, wood, glass, paper, ceramic) and make sure you’ve packed your trusty reusable water bottle and brought your own toiletries. Who wants to eat and drink from plastic when you’re supposed to be indulging yourself anyway?

Turndown service only

Do you change your bed linens every day at home? Of course you don’t, you have a life — and you care about the planet. Laundry takes up to 15% of a hotel’s energy use. Spare your hotel the unnecessary time and water usage by signaling that you don’t need your sheets changed every day; or your towels for that matter, including hand, bath, beach, pool, washcloth, bathmat…(are we forgetting any?) Opt instead for turndown service, and look forward to pillow chocolates and sweet dreams.

Power down before heading out

This is becoming easier these days as more and more hotels use key cards that also conveniently turn lights and other electric appliances off when leaving. But just in case your accommodation isn’t there yet, remember to turn off the lights, TV and heater/air conditioner before you go exploring for the day or check out.

Vacay closer to home

Is traveling not in the cards this year? You can still get the feeling of getting away and relaxing in the accommodation of your choice with a staycation. Staycations are gaining popularity with busy families, the budget-conscious and those who can’t take longer vacations out of country. And by simply removing the transportation factor from the CO2 equation, you’ll already be having a way more eco-friendly vacation. It’s also a great opportunity to discover all those local places you’ve heard about but never had a chance to experience yourself.

Going eco-friendly just makes sense — for everyone

You can be sure that over time, it’ll be even easier to find the perfect eco-friendly accommodation. More travelers from all over the world are using it in their search criteria every day, so the desire to show up in the results as an accredited eco-friendly establishment is following suit.

But reducing energy consumption and waste is also great for a hotel’s bottom line. And there’s a lot to save: 75% of a hotel’s environmental impact can be directly related to excessive consumption. So next time you’re looking for a place to stay, switch on the eco-friendly filter and see what turns up. Your next hotel stay may be not only environmentally-friendly, but also your new favorite.







About the author

Jeanifer BreklingGrowing up in Alaska, Jeanifer took the beauty of its nature for granted. Now that she lives in a more cosmopolitan place, Jeanifer loves to get back to nature wherever she goes, with hiking, camping, snowboarding and diving always a highlight. As a mother of three, Jeanifer is always looking for new places to go that the whole family will enjoy. Follow Jeanifer on Linkedin for more travel inspiration.

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