Travelers everywhere are showing an increased interest in sustainable tourism, whether taking local transportation or drinking from reusable water bottles. One of the largest impacts you can make on your journey will be determined by where you choose to stay.
At first glance, the task of finding an environmentally conscious place to stay may seem daunting or outright overwhelming. Rest assured, a growing number of resources have arisen to help you decide on the best option that fits your specific needs.
Before leaping into your search, take time to write out a list of your priorities. Is water conservation your passion? What about energy efficiency? Maybe low-flush toilets? A clear list will help guide your research and narrow down your available options for environmentally friendly travel.
There are a range of environmentally conscious, informational travel organizations throughout the globe. Some of these organizations will offer master classes in ecotourism. Others will give you sustainable destinations in various countries and promote enhancing the visitor experience while still maintaining the cultural and environmental integrity of areas. Some also provide adventure travel events that still remain dedicated to sustainability.
Stay locally, if possible. Not only will you support the economy of the area you’re exploring, but local, environmentally conscious rooms can be more environmentally friend than larger certified hotels.
Do you have your heart set on a warmer climate? Look for places that offer a metal roof. Traditional asphalt shingles can absorb more heat energy from the sun, creating hotter temperatures and a greater demand for air conditioning. Metal roofs can reflect the light and heat from the sun, reducing the amount of energy required for cooling. As an added bonus, the roofs are completely recyclable once their lifespan is up.
Energy Star Rating
Are you staying close to home on your journey? Check with your hosts to see if they use ENERGY STAR appliances. The ENERGY STAR program, run by the U.S. EPA, verifies the energy efficiency of appliances.
Eco-Friendly or Not?
Check the provider’s website to see what certifications they have, if any. Larger hotel chains may be LEED certified, which indicates they have met the minimum design requirements to be certified as an energy efficient location.
Be on the lookout for eco-“unfriendly” places. As the demand for more environmentally friendly options has increased, so have the number of organizations potentially making false claims.
Local businesses can be tougher to pin down. When in doubt, give them a call. Many organizations that are committed to the environment are passionate about their cause and will likely answer all of your questions about their eco-friendly offerings. This is a great time to check that they align with your personal beliefs.
Do Your Part
As a guest, you have the potential to make a large impact on the number of resources you consume. There are a number of great ways to reduce your carbon footprint, including conserving water and limiting energy.
Environmentally conscious travelers can rest easy knowing they will have a number of options to choose from on their next sustainable vacation.
Emily Folk is a freelance writer and blogger on topics of conservation, sustainability and renewable energy. To see her latest posts, check out her blog, Conservation Folks, or follow @emilysfolk on Twitter!