What to Look for in a European Eco Hotel
The first thing to bear in mind when considering which "eco hotel" you want to book with, is are they able to give you a detailed breakdown about their environmental practises and or their community involvement. The more information they can provide, the more likely they are to really have mad solid commitments to either element of the hotel’s policies. Here are some of the major things to look forwa
Energy Sourcing and Energy Efficiency
While it is perhaps pretty self-evident that most hotels can’t generate their own power, although depending on their situation some can and do generate their own energy from renewable but these tend to be the exception, rather than the rule. Sourcing renewable energy through some providers is becoming more possible for some hotels, although it is still rare as hotels can often be in long standing contracts with suppliers so this is not always an easy switch to make. There are number things they can do to lessen their impact on the environment through their energy consumption. Energy efficiency and reduced energy consumption are the watch-words of a decent eco hotel. Measures taken to reduce energy consumption include low energy lighting, motion sensitive lighting (lights that turn themselves off when no one is in the room) and low energy consuming appliances particularly in high energy usage areas like cleaning and washing.
An eco hotel, like any hotel generates a serious amount of waste. From waste paper, plastics, including water bottles, toiletries, glass etc can and should be recycled. In relation to food waste and often being dependent on their location, can compost their food waste, or pass it onto third parties who will use it for compost.
Locally Sourced Food Products
An easy win in the sustainability stakes which can be made by an eco hotels is by using local producers for their food. This has three benefits it keeps down “carbon miles” which is basically all the carbon that is expended getting food from point A to point B. Simple logic dictates that the shorter the journey the less carbon released into the atmosphere. The other benefit is to the local community and economy the money spent locally helps add to stimulate the local economy.
A growing number of eco hotels are adding community projects to their offering. Either in the form of additional training for staff unrelated to their duties at the hotel or perhaps staff from the hotel help out with community projects they have set up themselves or work in partnership with local NGOs and charities.
Things to look out for:
Although in principle off-setting may seem like a sound idea it is not sound. Any carbon released into the atmosphere can’t be removed from the atmosphere at a later date. Carbon offsetting also leads towards the mindset of “it doesn’t matter what I do in terms of the environment, I can just off set whatever I do”. It would be far better for the hotel to lower its carbon footprint, for example by reducing its energy usage and water usage.
Quite a lot of accommodation providers have clued up over the last few years that having a “Social Responsibility” or a “Sustainable Practices” page is another. Most have come to realise that it is important to back up any statement with details and outlines of commitments and in some cases proof supplied by third parties. Obviously nothing is full-proof hotels can pass inspections and audits etc and still avoid actually keeping up with the practises. The language used in these Sustainability Pages is often is the best indicator, as most people hate to actually lie (and they also know it may come back to haunt them), they tend to try and be economical with the truth or use such woolly language that no one could accuse them of lying, because they haven’t actually make any solid commitment. Phrases like “we try to be sensitive to the environment in all our operations” or “we are always looking to improve our environmental practises” are classic examples. They usually form part of what is usually a modest size and tone of language.
Ultimately the decision of whether an eco hotel measures up rests with you. If you are happy with the commitment they have made to the environment and or the local community then book that hotel.