Have you ever been to a hotel that claims to offer a linen and towel reuse program only to find new linens and towels in your room the following day? Green hotel and eco-lodge are commonly used terms for marketing responsible lodging options to consumers, but many don't practice what they preach.
Greenwashing - presenting an environmentally responsible public image when engaging in unsound practices - is a problem many conscientious consumers have encountered in their travels. So how can you tell if an accommodation is dedicated to protecting the environmental, benefiting local communities, and / or helping guests learn about the local surroundings as they experience them?
Since most accommodations have not had their business practices verified by an independent third-party, we've developed a list of questions for consumers to ask hoteliers before booking:
Ask the hotel or lodge that you contact if they have an environmental or sustainability policy. If they don't know, or if it's not in their marketing materials or on their website, then it probably means they don't have one.
Ask them how they identify, measure and manage their contributions to environmental conservation, socio-cultural preservation, and community economic development? What specifically have they done to protect the environment? Do they work with any local non-profits? Which ones?
Ask them how they benefit the local communities where they operate. Do they only hire local people for entry level as well as managerial positions? Do they purchase locally grown or organic food from local farmers? Do they hire local guides?
Ask them how they reduce waste and conserve electricity. Do they have a recycling program? Do they use non-corrosive, biodegradable laundry detergents and cleaning products? How do they treat waste water?
Ask them if they have any information on how their guests can support local conservation efforts? Do they have any information on local cultures and customs? Do they have a trip philanthropy program in place?
Useful Links For more information on booking green hotels and eco-lodges in North America and beyond, check out the following useful links: