So, if finding eco hotels and lodges around the world is my mission, how do I judge them? Alot of sites seem to give the message that an accommodation is 'eco' just because it's in a jungle or other natural place, when there might not even be a focus on respecting that environment. To me, that isn't eco, and being eco-friendly is not dependent on the location of the hotel or lodge, although you will find that many eco-lodges are set in natural surrounds.
I've done a lot of research into this and my research points towards 5 key areas of action which eco accommodations can take. This is how eco accommodations are assessed on www.ecobookers.com :
Eco-Design For example, do the buildings and landscapes integrate themselves into the natural environment? Are natural and locally produced building materials used?
Energy What does the accommodation do to reduce carbon and energy use? Are alternative energy sources such as solar power used?
Conservation How does the accommodation help to conserve its natural surroundings? Does it have an environmental education program?
Ecological sustainability How are the effects of waste on the surrounding environment reduced e.g. is waste and waste water recycled? Are the resources used renewed at the same rate? Is food locally grown and produced?
Community Does the accommodation incorporate cultural considerations e.g. are guests informed of local cultures and customs? Is the local community provided with economic benefit? What proportion of the staff employed are local people? Are there any programs to support the local community?
Not all accommodations featured will cover every one of these points – some may lean more strongly towards conservation, while others focus more on supporting the local culture and community - but they should certainly have a strong spread of policies.
That's all for me today!