How to be green when your accommodation is not

The other day, I crept out of my dormitory at 2am to turn off the bathroom lights. A few hours before, I’d seen a woman in the bathroom letting the water run for nothing for several minutes while she brushed her teeth, and it had taken everything in me to not jump in and turn the water off myself.

My point is that where you are matters less than what you do.

I might even add « It’s not the wand, it’s the wizard », but that might be pushing it a little. Still, it’s a cool quote. Back to business now.

Although the number of green hotel and ecolodges is happily increasing, I have to admit that I’ve never actually slept in one. Why is that ? Either there isn’t one where I’m going, or it’s just simply too expensive.

Photo source.

Photo source.

Of course, the best solutions would be to stay with a friend, or to use Couchsurfing or Airbnb, but sometimes there’s nothing for it : you have to find a hostel, or hotel (depending on your budget).

If you’re able to do some research before leaving, there are a few questions you can ask to choose responsibly :

Is the hotel locally owned and staffed ?

Does it have a recycling program ?

If some food is served, can it be locally sourced ?

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Photo source.

But it also happened to me to be on the spot, homeless in a new city, and willing to take the first bed that I could find. In these cases, here’s how to be green when your accommodation is not :

  • Be energy conscious, like at home : turn off the lights and TV of your room and bathroom. Unplug things when you don’t need them anymore. Turn off air conditioning and heat yourself or ask at reception if it’s possible.
  • Save water, like at home : keep your showers short, and use the minimum amount. If you let the water run while you brush your teeth and a crazy girl jumps in to turn it off, then « Hi ! »
  • Use your own towel and sheets. Some hotels, in an effort to save water, only change sheets and towels when asked. I appreciate the effort, but I think it’s absolutely disgusting. I always bring my own.
  • Make it clear that you haven’t used the towels and sheets ! No point in bringing your own stuff if the staff of the hotel washes the unused items anyway. To prevent that, put them away immediately and leave them neatly folded. If the bed is already done, take off the sheets and bring them back to reception. You can also leave a note on your bed in the morning saying you didn’t use them !
  • Have your own toiletries and water bottle. Many hotels leave a plastic drinking cup and a few items in the bathroom, try not to use them.
  • Ask about the recycling program at reception. If there isn’t one in the hotel, ask where you can find the appropriate bins in the neighborhood.
  • A good way to encourage the development of green initiatives is to manifest yourself on the internet. Leaving comments like « Great hostel, really nice staff, but seriously missing a recycling program » or « Amazing hotel, so eco conscious, I encourage every one to go there, it’s ideally situated, the perfect way to discover Blablacity with the good advice of their helpful staff ! », you never know, it might just make a difference !

With these simple tips, you can see that it’s possible to be green anywhere you go !

One step at a time, one crazy girl turning off the water at a time, and we’re making a difference !

For your Pinterest board !

For your Pinterest board !

6 Comments on How to be green when your accommodation is not

  1. Boom! Nice post. I haven’t consciously thought about this before…I’m pretty good most of the time but I should unplug my equipment when I know I won’t be back till the end of the day. Probably should shorten showers a little too.

  2. I love your attitude Cora.
    Why do you feel you have to stay in a green hotel or ecolodge to be green? Why is a green hotel better than a family run hostel?
    Which has the bigger impact on water saving? Not taking a shower for a year or skipping 10 beefburgers?

  3. That’s some great information – especially the last one about manifesting yourself on the Internet. Hopefully, thoughtful comments have made a major difference for some businesses.

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