Whatever industry you are in, environmental sustainability is something that simply cannot remain unaddressed. There is increasing pressure from the governments or intergovernmental bodies to uphold higher environmental standards, and there is also increasing pressure from the customer side, too, to see businesses conducted in a greener way. Hospitality industry is no exception.
There are plenty of reasons to consider making your hostel more environmentally friendly. There is, of course, the obvious reason: it is good for the planet. Yet introducing more of green practices in your hostel can also be financially beneficial, depending on their scale, if not in the short term then in the long term. Also, a sustainability label by a national or international organization can bring you more publicity, and even without an official certification “going green” can become one of your marketing strategy points and a way of differentiating yourself from the competition. In other words, if you can spare some money to invest in making your hostel greener, there are no reasons not to do that.
Resources of Sustainable Practices Examples
Not to reinvent the wheel here, the resources available for you to check out are vast and informative. From rooftop gardens, solar panels and low flush toilets to upcycled décor, eco-printing, and cloth grocery bags: the options already exist and are being implemented in both emerging and established hostels. Eco-hostels presents an extensive list of green measures encompassing suggestions for the building infrastructure itself, green waste management ideas and even some PR strategy tips. HostelWorld lists some of greener hostels whose practices serve as potential examples, and probably one of the best ways to get ideas is to look at hostels and other types of lodging options that are certified as more environmentally friendly options in the industry.
Ways to Get Certified
The list of potential labels and certifications is a long one, so it may make more sense to group them either by their geographical scope (regional, national, international) or by area of environmental sustainability (for example, geographical area, like seacoast, or thematic area, like CO2 emissions, etc.). Hence, if you are thinking about getting certified, you can look into what that is that you can more easily capitalize on or, oppositely, in which areas there is most space for improvement.
Talking about national programs, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides representatives of the hospitality industry a list of eco lodging label programs (both local and internationally recognized) and links to educational resources. Argentina, for example, introduced a three-tier Ecosello program to their hospitality industry last year, while within the European Union Ecolabel is an established label of environmental sustainability. For a more detailed list of both regional and global certificates, take a look at Responsibletravel.com and Hostelling International. Both of them present a long list of green labels that hostels, depending on their geography and area of environmental sustainability, can aim for or can look into their guidelines for some ideas.
What to Consider
To introduce minor changes – to use more of recycled materials, to make sure you are using more energy-efficient bulbs, etc. – is not a big business decision. However, your decision to invest in your hostel’s infrastructure and even go for an eco label could be influenced by first of all your hostel size. On one hand, it can be cheaper to install some energy-saving hardware or greener waste management system in a smaller hostel. On the other hand, the same structural changes, albeit more expensive, may actually save more in the long term if your hostel is at least medium-size. To sum up, a cost-benefit analysis will be needed here.