Eco-friendly hotel, organic products, green lodging… Sounds hot, right? Unfortunately, with the increasing use of these words, their meaning is being emptied because many of them are seen only as a marketing strategy (greenwashing). Of course, there are truly eco-friendly companies.


How can you tell if a hotel is eco-friendly?

What is greenwashing in hotels?

Greenwashing is when a company or organization spends more time and money advertising how “green” they’re instead of being green. They do this to gain an advantage over other competitors or to appear more eco-friendly to consumers. Some common examples of greenwashing include:

  • Using buzzwords such as “eco-friendly”, “sustainable”, or “carbon-neutral tourism” without backing up these claims with evidence.
  • Making unproven claims about the environmental benefits of a product or service.
  • Failing to disclose negative environmental impacts of a product or service.

This can be harmful because it:

  1. creates a false or misleading impression about a hotel’s environmental practices;
  2. discourages guests from visiting a truly eco-friendly hotel; and
  3. diverts attention from important environmental issues.

The term greenwashing was first coined by Jay Westervelt in a 1986 essay.

Why is green business important for hotels?

Tourism accounts for 8% of global carbon emissions. Lodging establishments alone are responsible for 6%.

It’s important for hotels to go green for several reasons. Firstly, it can lead to significant cost savings by reducing energy and water consumption. By adopting eco-friendly practices, hotels can reduce their electricity bills. Second, eco-conscious travelers seek out green hotels. By going green, hotels can attract these guests and differentiate themselves from the competition. Third, by promoting their green initiatives, hotels can improve their brand image and reputation, leading to stronger customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth. Finally, hotels that go green can follow environmental regulations and avoid potential fines or penalties.

Eco-friendly hotel: How to tell if a hotel is really green

Here are some essential details that you can ask hotel staff.

How to tell a hotel is really green
By adopting eco-friendly practices, hotels can reduce their electricity bills. Photo by Kelsey Curtis on Unsplash.

1. Certification by an independent organization: For example, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), Green Globe or B Corp. These organizations certify hotels that meet certain environmental standards.

2. Energy or water conservation programs: This is a good way to save money and resources.

3. Waste management and recycling: This can tell you a lot about their commitment to being eco-friendly.

4. Green cleaning products and practices: This is a good way to protect the environment and your health.

5. Local and sustainable food sourcing: A hotel’s food sourcing policy can tell you a lot about its commitment to the environment.

What is a sustainability report?

To find out if a hotel is eco-friendly, you can look at several criteria. The most reliable is the hotel’s environmental report. Sustainability or environmental reports are the most accurate evidence of a hotel’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint. A complete sustainability report may include a listing of a hotel’s carbon emissions over the years and a record of water conservation efforts.

Moreover, the fact that a hotel has a certificate isn’t one hundred percent proof. You can pay so-called environmental organizations for accreditation. It’s useful to know which are the reliable eco-certificates. If a company has a sustainability director, it can show that it’s trying to be a green company.

Green travel isn’t the same concept as wellness hotels. Wellness hotels are for your personal well-being. They don’t promise to reduce their environmental impact. However, there are hotels that have both in mind.

What are some of the best green hotels around the world?

Want a sustainable place to stay? Check out some of these top-rated green hotels around the world. They strive to reduce their carbon footprint by offering guests comfortable stays.

  • Hotel Verde—Cape Town, South Africa (Sustainability independently certified)
  • Whitepod – Valais, Switzerland (Travel Sustainable Level 2)
  • Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda – Lake Garda, Italy (Sustainability independently certified)
  • Basecamp Masai Mara—Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya (Travel Sustainable Level 3)

Most sustainable hotels can be expensive per night. They may have a good cause for this. Like, it’s expensive to get a certificate. So, it’s understandable that you want to stay anywhere within your budget. If you can’t stay in an eco-friendly accommodation, that’s fine. However, you can create awareness where you stay. You can ask questions to encourage them. The more people ask similar questions, the more establishments think guests will take an interest in such details, recognize its benefits and importance, and make improvements accordingly.

What is your favorite eco-friendly lodging? Is being a green traveler a priority for you?