Green Hotels

Green Hotels: How Do I Identify Sustainable Travel Lodging?

Are you a globe trotter but want to have a small footprint? You aren’t alone. According to a study by, 83% of global travellers think sustainability is vital. Green accommodations are an essential element of a more sustainable approach to travel. Unfortunately, it can be tough to tell which hotels are really green. To help set apart the cream of the crop, several organizations created green certification programs.

What Is a Green Hotel?

Green Hotel
Green Hotel

There are a variety of hotels that might achieve a sustainable hotel certification and these come in all shades of green. Some were constructed with sustainability in mind and may be LEED-certified buildings. After opening their doors, others have made improvements like installing water-saving plumbing fixtures and using natural cleaning products. Some may give back through volunteer or donation programs and consider their impact on the broader community.

Unfortunately, some hotels and resorts may employ greenwashing to attract green travellers but might not meet rigorous standards. A few major hotel chains that have shown a concerted effort to green their operations include Hilton, Marriot, Hyatt and Starwood Hotels.

What Are Green Hotel Certifications?

It is critical to discern which hotels are the most sustainable to reduce our impact while on the road. Certifications include industry guidelines and best practices but each certification program has its own criteria and standards. Well-designed certifications can help identify genuine leaders from those greenwashing themselves without really having substance. They also help guide companies on ways to continuously improve, thus becoming more sustainable over time.
Some green hotel certification programs may emphasize one aspect of sustainability more than another, so your personal preference also comes into play when choosing which certification programs to trust.

Are There Trustworthy Green Hotel Certifications?

Numerous certification programs can help choose accommodations. The following are from the most rigorous and respected to the more questionable ones towards the bottom.

Green Globe

This program measures travel and tourism businesses and their supply chains and contains 44 core criteria. Green Globe considers itself the “highest standard for sustainability worldwide” and even appoints a third-party auditor to work with clients on-site. It even shows on its website how it compares to other certification programs.

The certification program has specific criteria for various types of tourism-related businesses, including golf courses, restaurants, tour operators, attractions and resorts. Companies can have three different statutes: Certified, Gold and Platinum. Companies can achieve the Platinum standards if they have been certified for ten consecutive years. In addition, Green Globe has received Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) recognition, helping to increase trust in this certification.

Green Key Global

This certification program was designed for hotels and meeting venues across the globe. With 1,600 certified hotels and 350 venues across 20 countries, this program has a broad reach across North and South America.
Green Key uses a grading system with five keys being the highest and provides guidance on improving a rating. The assessment examines multiple areas of operation, including waste, energy, water, community outreach and indoor air quality. Like Green Globe, Green Key is GSTC-recognized. In addition, it parts with BookDifferent which offers a searchable database of hotels along with their estimated carbon footprint.


This international certification program is available for tour operators and accommodations in over 50 countries. Its program includes 163 criteria related to human rights, community engagement and environmental impact. Organizations must renew their membership after two years and undergo an audit and the program is GSTC-recognized. Unfortunately, this company doesn’t offer a simple search tool but has a database of certified hotels by country.

Are There Green Certification Programs Specific to Geographic Areas?

Yes, your destination shapes which certification programs are most helpful. The GSTC maintains a list of certification programs it recognizes. Many of these specialize in a particular geographic region such as Europe or Australia.

Your Actions Make a Difference

Green Hotels
Green Hotels

Ultimately, part of the impact of a hotel stay depends on our behavior, even if you do find a green hotel. If possible, avoid drinking bottled water (unless it’s the only safe option), alert hotel housekeeping that you don’t need freshly laundered towels or sheets daily (for extended stays) and turn down the AC or heat when going out. Book your hotel in a walkable area and walk or take public transportation to your destinations when possible. If the hotel doesn’t collect recycling, try to find places to recycle your items off-site. And bring your own toiletries in reusable containers to avoid waste.


Let us know in the comments how likely you are to book your hotel at a sustainable travel lodging.

Sustainable Travel: Transform Your Impact on Your Destination

Travel is a synonym of adventure. Travel challenges you. It connects you with diverse people and allows you to create meaningful relationships around the globe. Yet, travel can harm our planet if it is not done mindfully. From the huge amount of greenhouse gases emitted from air travel to the holiday resorts built on natural areas, the travel industry can negatively affect our environment.

However, we believe that we can minimize the impact and protect the Earth’s most natural places. How? With sustainable travel!

What Is Sustainable Travel?

Sustainable travel consists of finding ways to reduce the negative economic, social and environmental impacts that host the tourism industry. Also known as sustainable tourism, sustainable travel aims to value the ecosystems and maintain the natural resources of the destinations. The World Tourism Organization defines the term as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities”.

If you are not someone who usually fights for the sustainability cause, you are probably asking yourself why you should adopt a sustainable travel approach. Yes, you could be a tourist and enjoy the perks of traveling. Protecting the places you love is in the end up to you. But, let’s face the truth; sustainable tourism will not happen overnight. In fact, it will become real only if we do out part.

So, if you’ve decided to make a better impact while enjoying the Earth’s most beautiful destinations, pledge to travel more responsibly. You can start your sustainable journey with the following tips:

Choose “Greener” Transportation or Slower

Of course, this will depend on your destination. If you have several options to reach your holiday place, think about what is more Eco-Friendly. Are you traveling in a group? If you are, it will be more responsible to share a vehicle. On the other hand, while going on a solo vacation, the best choice will be to take the train or to fly.

Once you’ve reached the destination, the most environmentally-friendly means of transport will be traveling by foot or bicycle. You can also opt to be a slow traveler by staying longer in one destination instead of flying more.

Go Camping or Stay at a Local’s Accommodation

If you enjoy being outdoors, camping will be a fantastic accommodation option! With the perks of going wild and having lots of fun in nature, you will also positively impact while avoiding large resorts. Those types of accommodation negatively affect the environment because of their high level of energy and water consumption.

But if the joys of camping are not for you, no stress! You can still look for alternatives like staying in guesthouses, Airbnbs or Bed & Breakfast, that are owned by locals. This way, you’ll be more sustainable as you’ll contribute to the local economy rather than giving your money to big foreign hotel chains.

Visit and Have Fun Responsibly

Who said that sustainable travel could not be fun? Yes, it can be fun, but it has to be responsible too! You must plan ahead and do a bit of research before booking your tours. Sustainable tour operators usually have green accreditation, including Rainforest Alliance, Green Globe or EarthCheck.

Try to look for tours that do not disturb wildlife. As a sustainable traveler, you would want to pick a wildlife tour that does not allow the animals to be in contact with humans.

A good idea would be to read the reviews on Google or TripAdvisor or get more information on blog posts from trusted travel bloggers. You can even contact the tour company to learn more about their policies.

Enjoy Local Markets and Shop Sustainably

Since sustainable travel is about maintaining the health of the country’s economy, spend your money in cafes and restaurants owned by locals. This will not only be an opportunity to interact with locals and learn more about their culture but a chance to eat traditional local food. Buying street food is also another option but make sure you avoid big food chains at all costs! You can also enjoy fresh vegetables, fruits, and other local products from the farmers’ markets instead of spending on imported foods.

Last but not least, shop souvenirs from local artisans! Products that would have been flown or shipped will have a larger carbon footprint, which you want to avoid. Plus, it’s always better to take home a souvenir that will remind you of the country rather than something manufactured elsewhere.

Conscientious adventurers, with these tips, you should now be ready to try sustainable travel! Remember that it takes all of us to save our planet! And, if you already started your sustainable rescue while traveling, leave a comment below to share how your experience has been so far!