You might consider yourself environmentally conscious at home. You may turn off lights and save water religiously. You may recycle more than you throw in the trash. You may adjust your thermostat to avoid extra heating and cooling costs.
Unfortunately, too many people are unable to continue their green living habits when they stay in hotels. Hotels’ practices of pampering each guest often include shampoo bottles intended for one use only, as well as changing sheets and towels daily. You wouldn’t waste so much energy at home, so why should you support it when you’re traveling?
Finding Green Hotels
A growing number of hotels are now adopting environmentally friendly practices. Many give you the option of keeping your linens over an extended stay rather than changing and washing them daily. Some now offer bulk-size toiletries, where refillable pump bottles replace the single-use mini-bottles. Some even go the extra mile and filter the water used in showers, sinks, and washing machines for garden use.
A Web search for “environmentally friendly hotels,” “green hotels,” or “eco-tourism” will lead you to several sites that list hotels working to preserve the environment. Some sites allow hotels to add themselves to the listings. Other lists require nominations from guests, or even inspections from outside agents.
Another useful search term is “LEED certified hotels.” The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) has developed a green certification for buildings worldwide. The current number of LEED-certified hotels is small, but it is growing quickly. It’s important to remember that there are many hotels that could be considered environmentally friendly but have not sought LEED certification.
Some of the Best
Here are some of the interesting environmentally friendly hotels that we’ve found.
The Lodge at Sun Ranch—Cameron, Montana, USA
This eco-resort only houses a small number of guests, but provides 26,000 acres for wildlife, as well as human activities such as hiking, fishing, and horseback riding. They prepare organic meals, practice conservation in numerous ways, and provide tours to guests of some of their green activities.
Old Chapel Forge—Lagness, Chichester, West Sussex, England
According to their own website, the Old Chapel Forge Bed and Breakfast tries to use “only organic and locally produced food.” It has a rich history beginning in 1611, and was last used as a chapel in 1847. Its roots and surroundings are charming, but its promotion of green tourism shines in its use of solar water heating and other environmentally friendly practices.
Chumbe Island Coral Park—Zanzibar, Tanzania
A private nature reserve on an uninhabited coral island, Chumbe Island Coral Park is an island sanctuary devoid of the tourist traps and population found on so many islands that visitors frequent today. Park operations strive for zero impact on the environment. The park employs several environmentally friendly methods, including composting toilets and rainwater catchment. Water is hand-pumped through a solar-powered heating system for showers and sinks, and the used water is filtered into the gardens.
Prepare to See the World
Eco-tourism opportunities are diverse and widespread. But you don’t have to stay someplace exotic to have an environmentally friendly vacation. Many familiar hotels have also adopted green practices. With a little legwork, you can find a place to stay that will work with your location and your environmental values.