The Top 8 Tips For A More Eco-Conscious Hotel Vacation

National surveys repeatedly report that people want to be conscious travelers and guests, reducing their impact on the environment. But the reports also show that the average hotel guest creates about 2-4 pounds of waste per day, mostly in paper and plastics but also food, water, and power waste. 

Environmentally Conscious -this means that not only are you mindful of the effect that you and your actions have on the environment, but that you actively go the extra mile to make sure that your impact is minimized. 

It’s a tricky situation because many feel that a ‘vacation’ besides traveling, sightseeing, and relaxing, also means tossing routine practices out the window and overindulging. There is an attitude of “I’m paying for the right to be carefree.” Unfortunately, this might unconsciously lead to over-excessiveness and extreme amounts of waste. But holding steadfast to your eco-friendly principles while staying at your luxury hotel can make a huge difference in your positive environmental impact. Follow along for an outline of the best ways to be an eco-friendly hotel guest.


Food waste accounts for an astonishing 28 percent of total waste at the average hotel. 

  • Nearly half of the food served at hotels is wasted. 
  • That impacts more than just the hotel’s bottom line — it affects the environment.
  • Food makes up nearly 20 percent of the waste in landfills. 
  • As it rots, it produces methane, a gas that has 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. 
  • Because of that, the EPA has made it a priority to cut food waste in half by 2030. Reducing food waste will help the United States address climate change, as 20 percent of total U.S. methane emissions come from landfills, according to the EPA

ECO-FRIENDLY HOTEL GUEST TIP: Cut down on your food waste. 

Yes, there may be a lavish breakfast buffet every morning. And yes you are on vacation and want to treat yourself. But remember, YOU CAN ALWAYS GET SECONDS. 

  1. Take less than you think you want and go back for another helping. 
  2. Let children choose what they like by testing samples from your plate.
  3. Inform yourself of ingredients before making selections if you have dietary restrictions.
  4. Challenge yourself to not throw away ANY food. 
  5. Order smaller portions, share appetizers, or even meals. 


Think of all the times you use a plastic cup during vacation: in the room, at meals, on the beach, by the pool, in the bathroom. The same thing applies to the use of plastic cutlery, water bottles, and mini complimentary toiletries. Would your eco-conscious self use these same products or act in the same manner at home? If not, see how you can remain conscious of plastic consumption during your hotel stay.

  1. They are adorable but do you really need to use those mini toiletry bottles one time and then send them to the landfill forever (even if they get recycled, plastic can only be recycled twice before it ends up as permanent trash)?
  2. Give feedback to your hotel, and tell them you appreciate the gifts but would prefer the installation of refillable dispensers in the shower. NOTE: Scandic Hotels reduced their waste volume by 40%, and 11 tons of packaging waste annually, in just this way.
  3. Ask for biodegradable cups and utensils.
  4. Use real items (vs plastic) whenever you can. You can even go the extra mile and bring your own.
  5. These hotels are making the effort, thus allowing you to support more sustainable practices with your vacation dollars.


As reported in the Smithsonian:

  • The American Hotel and Lodging Association estimates that NOT washing towels and changing sheets every day reduces the number of loads of laundry washed—as well as the related water, sewer, energy, and labor costs—by 17 percent
  • The association also notes that such programs increase the lifespan of towels and linens, thus reducing replacement costs.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that hotels and other lodgings use about 15 percent of the total water taken up by commercial and institutional facilities in the United States. 
  • The commercial and institutional sector, in turn, is responsible for about 17 percent of the withdrawals from U.S. public water systems. Re-use your towels rather than getting new ones every day

ECO-FRIENDLY HOTEL GUEST TIP: Be Prudent With Your Linen Use

If your room is serviced daily and towels are readily available, it might seem easier to use a fresh towel every day. But this isn’t something you would do at home, because it’s not practical and your water and electricity bills would significantly increase. 

By re-using a towel and skipping the daily change of bedsheets, you can save both water and energy. 


  1. Bring your reusable water bottle with you everywhere. Most hotels these days have water stations placed liberally throughout their facilities. 
  2. Not only does this help to reduce plastic waste, but it could also save you a bit of money throughout your travels.
  3. Use the same eco-conscious water habits that you would at home by not letting the faucet run while brushing teeth or shaving.


It’s easy not to really think about which bin you’re throwing your trash in when you’re away but recycle as you would if you were at home.

  1. Know where the recycling bins are in the hotel. 
  2. If you don’t have a recycle bin in your room (many hotels do provide them nowadays), then make your own and ask guest services to recycle those collected items.
  3. Every year, 18 million tonnes of waste are sent to a landfill site.

Eating locally sourced food can be healthier for you and it can help to reduce your carbon footprint. 

  1. If you plan to venture out to dining areas around your hotel, find ones within walking or biking distance and look for those run by local residents.
  2. This not only supports the local economy but will also give you a more authentic  vacation experience. 
  3. Eating more local food reduces CO2 emissions by reducing the distance food travels from farm to consumer.


  1. Turn off the lights when you leave bedrooms and bathrooms.
  2. The same goes for the television.
  3. Turning off the lights reduces your carbon footprint, and saves money and energy. 
  4. And don’t forget the room thermostat, air conditioning, and/or heat. Adjust properly for the many hours that you are not in the room.

If you are off to a conference or going away with a group of people, consider car-sharing options. It can save you money, take the hassle out of parking and more importantly, it is much better for the environment. 

  1. Take advantage of hotel transport to and from the airports.
  2. If exploring the local area, make use of any available public transportation.


Studies show that the tourist mindset has a positive eco-friendly attitude and supports sustainable options but there is an attitude-behavior gap. The tourist’s pro-sustainable philosophies are there but the corresponding behavior in reality is another matter. To be the best eco-friendly hotel guest that you can be, follow the tips above and continue your eco-aware habits even while taking a break from your everyday life. 

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