There has been some buzz online about environmentally-friendly backpackers hostels. I started looking into today when I read an article on 4hoteliers.com about claims of "the world's first 'green' hotel".
Listed features of IHG's "green hotel" are:
- The forwarding of all unused non-perishable food to charities or food banks
- Solar panels on the roof to heat water
- A rainwater harvesting system to supply water to toilets
- A roof garden rich in shrubbery to provide extra insulation
- Windpower to generate electricity for the hotel
- Recycled glass windows
- Furniture and fittings made entirely from recycled materials
- And household waste to provide heat and power
What do you think? Does your hostel have any "green" features?
Here is some of the coverage that "eco-friendly hostels" have been getting:
Hostelworld ran an article on eco-hostels and seems to be releasing press releases. The Hostelworld story was also picked up by The NY Times.
Hostelbookers also did their own list here and a video here.
Here is an overview of some of the world's "eco hostels" and why they were given that label:
- Hostelling International Washington DC, USA (Hostelworld's list) -- recycling, low-energy lights, screening of environmental documentaries.
- Hedonisia Hawaii, USA (Hostelworld's list) -- built from reused materials, and has an "eco-friendly" toilet.
- Hostel One66, Singapore (Hostelworld's list) -- decorated with recycled materials
- Gyreum, Sligo, Ireland (Hostelworld's list) -- "this solar and wind powered eco-lodge is constructed from renewable resources"
- Hostelling International Boston Downtown, USA (Hostelworld's list) -- recycling, low-power lights, water-conserving plumbing
- Grampians YHA Eco-Hostel Grampians, Australia (Hostelworld's list) -- solar hot water, energy and water conservation
- Reykjavik City Hostel, Iceland (Hostelworld's list) -- "energy monitoring, erosion control and extensive recycling service"
- Deepdale Backpackers Hostel, England (Hostelworld's list) -- solar panels and working with universities on environmental issues
- Enigmata Treehouse Ecolodge, Philippines (Hostelworld's list) -- "Operated by ... environmental protection group known as the Enigmata Creative Circle, the treehouse’s existence and operation is a testament to environmental awareness, offering biodiversity workshops and conservation seminars."
- Cabinas Tina's Casitas, Costa Rica (Hostelbookers' list) -- "...the hostel’s reforestation project is devoted to saving endangered local wildlife"
- Hostel Llullu Llama, Ecuador (Hostelbookers' list) -- "composting toilets, homemade organic produce, and an extensive recycling program"
- Hostel Ecological Expeditions, Pantanal, Brazil (Hostelbookers' list) -- "ecotours"
- CEL (Centre Ecologic Ilemena) Hostel, Girona, Spain (Hostelbookers' list) -- organic produce, permaculture, etc.
- HI-Washington, USA (Hostebookers' list) -- non-toxic paint, recycled carpets, recycling, documentaries, etc.
- High Street Hostel, Edinburgh, Scotland (Hostelbookers' list) -- "claims to be 100% carbon neutral"
A couple of YHA hostels in the UK got an EcoLabel award. The hostels were Langdon Beck and Lockton.
Among the changes introduced at Langdon Beck are:
* 50 per cent cut in total energy consumption
* 75 per cent cut in carbon dioxide emissions
* 50 per cent of all waste is being recycled
Langdon Beck has led the way in developing renewable energy systems for hostels. European LEADER+ funding, which is administered by Defra, helped the YHA to install two solar hot water systems and a 2.5 kilowatt wind turbine. They have also installed a rain harvesting system to provide water for the toilets at the hostel.
Funding from Defra's Rural Enterprise Scheme helped Lockton to build in unique environmentally responsible features to help minimise the environmental impact of tourists. The environmental benefits at Lockton include:
* 30 per cent reduction in water consumption
* 40 per cent fall in carbon dioxide emissions
Other features include showers heated by solar panels on the hostel roof and a system which harvests rainwater. The building is insulated using sheep's wool and a living sedum roof, whose foliage will provide a habitat for local wildlife as well as adding extra insulation.
SYHA.org has a press release from 2003 that calls the Loch Ossian Hostel "arguably the most eco-friendly accommodation in the UK". This looks like a hostel that is serious about the environment, with a composting toilet, graywater reuse, and solar & wind power. (SYHA also owns ecohostels.com, which loads the SYHA.org site in an HTML frame.)
The Golden Gate Council of HI USA has a Green Hostels Project and at least one "certified green business".
Another list of eco-friendly hostels can be found on Transitions Abroad.