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How to Choose an Eco-Friendly Hotel



Traveling is one of life’s little pleasures. Whether you’re going for business or pleasure, it’s always fun to step outside of your comfort zone and see a little more of the world. When you do so, you often need hotel accommodations. If you’re traveling with the environment in mind, you’ll select an eco-friendly hotel.

If eco-friendly travel is a priority for you, you’re not alone. According to a TripAdvisor survey, 62 percent of travelers consider the environmental impact when they choose a hotel. This means they research transportation, meals, and accommodations in any area to minimize their personal emissions.

Despite the overwhelming interest in green features, hotels often fail to advertise themselves as eco-friendly. The survey showed that 64 percent of responders don’t feel they have enough information about a hotel’s eco-friendly practices before booking. Additionally, 93 percent of survey takers said that they don’t try to confirm whether or not a hotel has green practices.

Hotels have a huge window of opportunity to capitalize on the green trend, but most don’t take it. For that reason, sustainable travelers must do their duty to learn more about a hotel’s green initiatives before booking. Here are some things to look for:

Choose a Central Location

Walkability is a prime key to a sustainable hotel. Transportation is currently one of the largest contributors to CO2 emissions, so by staying in a hotel that’s close to everything, you can cut down your own transportation effects during a vacation.

Research things to do in the area and choose a central location for your hotel. For example, if you’re traveling in Rome, use a comprehensive guide to Rome’s attractions to plan your trip. Then, choose a hotel that allows you to walk to most of the items on your list.

Call Ahead for Information

Once you’ve narrowed your potential hotel options, do a little digging into their eco-friendly practices. Occasionally, you can find information about sustainable involvement on their website. If not, call the hotel directly.

Ask about things like where their water comes from, if they get their products locally, the kind of energy used, and if they participate in towel reuse programs. If the front desk person doesn’t know the answers to these questions, ask to speak with a manager.

Read Reviews on Eco-Friendly Sites

Oftentimes, sites dedicated to sharing information on green practices and eco-friendly initiatives will offer information on popular hotels. Sites like TripAdvisor, Expedia, and allow visitors to leave reviews. You can learn a lot from what they say here.

You can also learn about resorts and hotels in popular destinations on eco-friendly news sites and blogs. They’ll often feature hotels that have won awards of excellence for their sustainable efforts. Subscribe to such blogs so you have the most current information on eco-friendly hotels.

Find the Green Button

When reading reviews on popular accommodations, look for green credentials. Travel and review sites are starting to offer a green rating service to show which hotels offer the most eco-friendly stay.

TripAdvisor – in partnership with Energy Star, the U.S. Green Building Council, and the UN Environment Program, for example – has a Green Leaders program that highlights the greenest hotels in the U.S. It rates them based on things like recycling, composting, water saving initiatives, energy sourcing, electric car stations, green roofing, and more.

If the hotel meets the pre-set criteria, a green button will appear on the page. You can also read reviews based on other hotel visitors’ experiences to make sure the hotel lives up to expectations.

Watch for Green Advertisements

Although most of the hotel industry fails to properly advertise their positive environmental impact, some will still take advantage of it. Watch for these advertisements, and make your choices accordingly.

You’ll probably run into a lot of these advertisements based on your past search history. Google and Facebook have algorithms that detect your browsing history and show you advertisements that you might like. The more you search for eco-friendly hotels in a specific location, the more advertisements you’ll see for it.

Note the Atmosphere

As you look through pictures of the hotel, note the decorations. Everything from the landscaping to the paintings can give you an idea of how a hotel values nature.

Paintings of nature, lush gardens, and other natural decorations can indicate a respect for the earth. If you’re familiar with eco-friendly materials, you might notice bamboo sheets and flooring and other sustainable materials throughout the hotel. These little hints will outline a hotel’s role in environmental matters.

Learn How They Give Back

Read blog posts, press releases, and Facebook posts to see how the hotel gives back to its community. Their participation can promote sustainability and responsibility in their neighborhood.

Although this might not be helpful in more urban populations, it can mean a great deal for hotels in areas that need conservation efforts like a rainforest or national park. Note how the hotel impacts the area, whether positively or negatively to make the best sustainable hotel choice.

Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer and researcher who contributes to a number of reputable online media outlets and news sources, including, and, among others. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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