There’s a lot more to eco-tourism than sleeping in a yurt by the beach. With interest in the field growing, the hospitality industry is finally becoming more environmentally conscious, learning to create rooms and services based around ideas like green-furniture sourcing, recycling, and energy and waste conservation. Hotels in the United States are just starting to implement the first key-card-controlled electricity systems—when leaving, you remove your card and the room’s power automatically shuts off (something that has become commonplace in many European hotels).
Fortunately, there is an industry-wide shift aimed at reducing environmental footprints. The Proximity Hotel, in Greensboro, North Carolina, for example, has an elevator that generates electricity as it goes down. The Orchard Hotel, in San Francisco, uses citrus-based products that are not just cheaper than conventional cleaners but also equally effective. Though there is no one hotel we would single out, we must say that the Scandinavian industry seems to be years ahead of everyone else. The Scandic Hotel chain has reduced its guests’ carbon footprints by one-third through such measures as introducing biodegradable wooden key cards and pens, and phasing out bottled water; instead, it offers empty jugs and encourages guests to fill them from the tap. We’ve put together a primer on what to include in a green hotel, highlighting outstanding examples from around the world as well as providing a chart that explains the many certification labels.