<a href="http://www.greenlifestylemag.com.au/blog/17#">Eco Travel</a>

Eco Travel

On the path to responsible travel, with Louise Southerden.

Choosing the right eco-accommodation

caravan

Credit: iStockphoto

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I recently stayed at a holiday park on the Queensland coast, which advertised itself as a 'rainforest environmental Eco park'. Sounds good, I thought.

It had all the usual caravan and camping facilities, but it had nothing in the way of anything 'sustainable' or 'green' - except maybe for a bit of grass.

There was no recycling, planting of natives, use of biodegradable products or anything else and the 'rainforest' was a kilometre up the road. They even had their dryer on.

When I questioned the owner and receptionist, I was told that such advertising quote: "looks good and brings in customers".

Of course it does! It certainly disappoints when we see no evidence of any sustainability.

This is known as 'green washing' and unfortunately some operators take shameful advantage of travellers' growing desire to stay in sustainable accommodation.

There are ways to ensure that we don't stay at accommodation that has made no effort to cut down on emissions, waste and pollution.

We can some 'green questions' when we book, such as:

  • What are your sustainable practices?
  • Is your accommodation certified i.e. Green Globe or ISO14001.
  • How do you save water?
  • How do you save energy?
  • What do you recycle?
  • Where does your food come from? (Locally?)
  • Are your cleaning products and bathroom liquids non-toxic, biodegradable and phosphate-free?

Most accommodation receptionists will be able to give you the answers or transfer your call to someone in the know.

However, if the receptionist responds with vagueness or distractions, then it could be 'green washing'.

If they mention just one thing, for instance a carbon-offsetting program, and nothing else, then it could be what I call 'green fiddling' - making one easy initiative but doing nothing else and often cheekily claiming green accolades.

If they offer a clear list of sustainable initiatives, accreditation and even eco-awards, then they're offering a clear indication of sustainability and it could be time to book.

When you say 'no' to unsustainable accommodation, it sends a powerful message to the travel industry.

Let's support those that are making the effort, help the planet and travel more sustainably.

-- Phoenix Arrien, guest blogger