How to spot an eco friendly hostel

To some people, their principles and moral values come above everything – which is  why for some, an eco-friendly hostel is the only way to go. While many hostels claim they’re eco-friendly, very few actually have the facts to back that up… more often than not, it’s just a PR stunt. We believe it’s important to be able to spot the difference.

You’ll learn that once you get to see the hostel, it’s pretty easy to say if it is eco-friendly or not, since most of the signs don’t require special knowledge and training, but just a little more attention to details than you’d usually give.

1. Recycling

Beds and mattresses can be recycled as easily as anything else. The economic advantage may seem irrelevant at first, but hostel owners quickly discover the difference. It takes over 20 years for mattress to decompose, and there are all kinds of industry businesses in Europe as well as the United States of America which issues, assuring old bad and mattresses 100% recycled. The kind of hostel using this tip is easy to spot, mainly because of the spotless mattresses as a result of their replacement not being an economic problem anymore.

Image via Wiki Commons.

Linen reuse programs are another way of recycling and yet another criterion on spotting eco friendly hostels. Instead of immediately changing the towels, the staff will have plates informing you on the operational program of taking an ecologic chance. This way, you’ll have the opportunity of hanging up your towel after using it instead of consuming extra water and energy for having it washed on a daily basis.

Of course. recycling spaces for paper, metal and plastic are always a pleasant sight common room, and even in the dorms if the hostel is big enough. The kitchen, guest rooms and any other place should be provided with recycling baskets for newspapers, white paper, glass, aluminum, cardboard or plastic. The bins in public areas should be noticeable enough to make the process as easy as possible. Most of the people using such recycling bins use products from recycled materials as well, so this is something else that makes it even easier to spot. Recycled paper products are among the most common, either unbleached or bleached using a chlorine-free process.

2. Saving energy and water

Water usage can be reduced in many ways, and it’s not very complicated to spot a hostel where the staff behaves with ecologic responsibility. Some of the signs are the low flow shower head, or the sink aerators. Toilets can have low flow devices as well, or even toilet tank fill diverters.

The type of light bulbs a hostel uses is a clear indication of commitment to eco-friendliness… or the lack of it. Image via Fox News.

LED light bulbs are perhaps the easiest eco friendly mark a hostel can have. The carbon footprint is the lowest there is, they last between five and even twenty times longer than the normal ones and really safe. Along with these LED lights (which you’ll find used on the EXIT signs as well), there are usually sensors in the common places that aren’t that frequently crossed. The heating and air conditioning is always turned off when the common spaces aren’t populated, and the drapes are closed during the summer months.

Eco friendly hostels use daylight as much as possible: on the lobby, kitchen, living room, and some places even have skylights installed all over the place to make the rooms brighter. Energy star appliances are regularly used here, and you’ll find that there’s a constant care for combining usefulness with just a sign of caring. For instance, the washing machines, otherwise just devices to get a job done, can speak a lot of the staff’s priorities. A newer model which consumes both less water and energy should always be more appreciated than an old crock trying to do things right just one more time.

Some eco-hostels shut down lights everywhere, only allowing the bed lamps to be opened. I’m not really sure how I feel about this. Sure it saves light and you can label it as eco-friendly, but one can’t stop but wonder if this is actually just a way to save some money.

3. Cutting costs

Buying in bulk. If someone from the staff comes home with a car full of all kinds of products, you should know that they may be saving money actually. Buying in bulk saves extra trips and even money, if there are en-gross products among the things they bought. Organic, fair trade products will always be among the things that someone preoccupied of eco friendly issues would buy. From bedding and guest robes or hair and body care to non-toxic cleaners, sanitizers and paints or pesticides.

4. The outside

Image via Kyoto Hostel.

A good eco-hostel will always provide the opportunity for the travelers to use green transportation, by having bicycles hich can be rented for a small price every day. This way, not only does the hostel stay eco, but the travelers get to be more close to the nature during their stay as well.

Especially during the summer, nothing yells ‘eco preoccupied’ more than garden dining. There are many ways in which hostels can transform their courtyards into certified green restaurants. Instead of buying organic, locally grown food, the staff sometimes prefer to employ one or two other people from spring to autumn to plant an organic garden from which all the food will be made for the travelers. If you’re familiar with plants, drought resistant native plants are usually used in the garden, in order to assure the minimum of materials that need to be consumed for their maintenance.

So, hopefully I’ve made it a bit easier to figure out if a hostel is really green or not. Of course there are exceptions to the rule and there are many elements I could have still added, but I think that these are the main elements. What do you think? Did I miss anything? What are your favorite eco-friendly hostels?

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