‘Conscious travel’ is one of those terms that seems to be everywhere these days. However, it is far from just a trend. We’d like to think of it as more of a lifestyle choice. An intentional approach towards travel to better align our decisions with a deeper value for the environment and the communities we interact with as we explore the world.
There are plenty of ways we can all travel more consciously and perhaps one of the major ones lies in the places we choose to visit. In this article, we share a few easy tips on how to vet and select sustainable accomodation.
Sustainable Properties Often Make It Known
The first and perhaps most direct way to tell if a property is sustainable is to simply check their page or website. Most properties that truly value the ethos behind sustainability are loud and proud about it. You’ll often find extensive breakdowns of both environmental and community projects they have running and sometimes even information about the back house and day to day running of the property.
Now we know what you’re about to ask next;
“Well…can’t anyone just lie about/exaggerate those things?”
It’s a fair question, especially with the rampancy of greenwashing. Which leads us to the next few ways to spot out a truly sustainable property, do they walk the talk?
They Employ Local & Support Local
Investing in local communities goes beyond just employing the people that live close by. Truly sustainable properties will often take the extra step to initiate programmes that direct more into the communities around them.
This could be in form of education sponsorship, healthcare development, specialised skills training or even making the decision to only purchase certain items from members of the local community. Investment also looks like involving them in major decisions concerning the surrounding area. As ultimately, any operation is only as sustainable as the level of collaboration between the property owners and locals.
If the accomodation you’re eyeing seems to have deep respect and true passion for the development of the communities around them, then you’re probably on to something good!
They Factor In Environmental Impact Into Their Operations
As more members of the travel community turn a new leaf (see what we did there) and take on a more green approach, we’re starting to see more progressive and intentional steps towards reducing and offsetting the harm certain operations may cause to the environment.
We’ve seen camps opt for electric vehicles instead of traditional vans for safaris, swap-outs for more green cleaning products in place of classic bleaches and detergents, switches in swimming pool designs to make them less harmful to wildlife stopping by for a drink…and so on and so forth. Many sustainable accommodations are often very aware that while it is difficult to be 100% eco-friendly, the attempt makes all the difference.
They’re Typically Smaller Than Your Average Hotel
While searching for sustainable accommodation, we’d recommend looking past mainstream chains and larger hotels and searching for homestays, boutique hotels and more intimate camps and lodges. The reason for this being that it’s logistically a lot easier to run a smaller property in a sustainable way. So you’re more likely to find what you’re looking for among the smaller and more niche options.
Check Out Their Menu
Sustainability really cuts across the board, touching everything from communal collaboration, waste disposal, transport, energy use and something we often overlook…food. A property’s approach to their menu tells a lot about the value they attribute to the natural world.
Accommodations looking to be more sustainable often have ‘farm to fork’ menus, comprised of organic ingredients grown in their own small scale farms or gardens. They may also source seasonal ingredients from local farmers, directly contributing to the economic growth of the communities around them. If you’re by the sea, your delicious platter would also likely be locally sourced as well, from nearby fishermen as opposed to supermarkets.
As you plan your next adventure, our reminder lies in a popular Swahili phrase we like to quote. ‘Tone kwa tone bahari huweka’. The phrase loosely translates to ‘Drop by drop the sea is filled’. Even the most sustainable of accommodations may not have every point covered but change lies in every decision made for the better and every little step towards a greener world.
So enjoy your trip and don’t sweat it too much if a few minor boxes on your sustainability list aren’t checked!