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What Is an Environmentally-Friendly Hotel?

By Debra Durkee
Updated: May 17, 2024

An environmentally-friendly hotel practices procedures designed to minimize the hotel's impact on the planet. This can include using recycled materials and participating in programs that recycle the hotel's own used materials. Some hotels install fixtures that lower water usage or reduce consumption of electricity, while others go so far as to use all locally grown foods for their kitchens.

Many environmentally-friendly hotels try to shrink the building's environmental footprint. This can include participating in recycling programs instead of just sending trash to a landfill, composting kitchen waste for use in the garden, or even eliminating phone books, menus, or other literature except on request. Using only biodegradable and natural cleaners can help limit the amount of pollutants released during cleaning, and some of these hotels even use towels and linens made only from organically grown and easily renewable, sustainable resources.

A newly constructed building can become an environmentally-friendly hotel from the beginning. Some use wood from renewable sources, non-toxic paints, and solar panels to supply some or all of the building's energy needs. Energy-efficient windows can save on electricity and cut back on heating costs, while energy-efficient appliances can do the same in kitchens and laundry rooms.

A truly environmentally-friendly hotel will put into place practices that not only allow employees to minimize the impact on the environment, but will also include ways for guests to help, whether they know it or not. Many hotels will give guests the option to reuse towels and sheets to help cut back on laundry. Showers, sinks, and toilets can be equipped to use less water, and energy-efficient bulbs are used for lighting. In some places, guests who take environmentally-friendly measures, from reusing linens to driving electric cars, are offered discounts and other incentives.

The kitchen is another focal point of an environmentally-friendly hotel. Some hotels have their chefs change the menus to produce food that is in season and which can be bought from local farmers to cut down on shipping costs as well as the environmental costs of freezing and shipping foods long distances. At some environmentally-friendly hotels, kitchens are equipped to recycle used cooking oil and create fuel from it, and to save peelings and other food waste to turn into compost used to maintain landscapes.

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Discussion Comments
By sobeit — On Jun 06, 2011

My husband and I recently stayed in a green hotel. I loved seeing the chef out in the yard picking ripe mangoes to serve for breakfast that morning.

Not only that, but they only served local, organic wines at happy hour and that said plenty!

By seafoam — On Jun 04, 2011

In recent years I've noticed more eco friendly hotels or should I say, bed & breakfast inns. Hotels seem to have the most difficulty in becoming more eco friendly due to the large numbers of people they service.

In the smaller bed & breakfast inns, I've noticed quite a bit of change. I've seen bed & breakfast owners serve seasonal/organic food, encourage recycling plastics and requesting that guests reuse towels to help lower the water usage/bill.

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