This is a guest post by HostelBookers.com.
You can’t ignore it: the way we travel has a major impact on the planet. Airlines pump out 10% of all global carbon emissions, and mass tourism means more natural landscape’s lost every year to new resorts, hotels, fast food chains and shops chasing the tourist dollar.
So what should you do? Don’t talk yourself out of travelling altogether – shun the well-worn commercial trail and make your travel plans more eco-friendly. Funnily enough, backpacking makes your trip greener without you even noticing it – you’ll catch trains, walk and hitch instead of flying, and purchase less stuff as you pack light and stick to a budget. Which is all good, but you can go one better.
Wherever you go, use local businesses and places that run on green principles, and always stay in eco-hostels. They switch inefficient practises for waste-saving, renewable-fuel-using alternatives, which in turn lightens your own trip’s carbon footprint.
Plus, you get all the random fun of a hostel stay thrown in too.
Take a look at the guide below and discover our four favourite awesomely innovative eco-hostels, just the thing for a trip less ordinary…
Loch Ossian Hostel
Remember that scene in Trainspotting where Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller et al take a daytrip out of Edinburgh and end up at Scotland’s remotest rail station? Corrour is that station, and it’s where you need to get off to make the final mile’s trip (on foot – no roads) to Loch Ossian Hostel. The lake-and-mountain surroundings are fiercely beautiful, and the hostel reduces environmental damage by running off wind turbine and solar energy, recycling all its water and using a dry toilet to cut down on further water waste. They even use bat-friendly paint.
This is the ultimate brace-yourself-and-get-back-
Hedonisia Hawaii Eco Hostel
This rainforest eco hostel and organic farm on Big Island mixes standard reduce-reuse-recycle policies with more off-the-wall ideas… especially when it comes to when nature calls. The ‘toilet-with-a-garden-view’ is exactly that: an open-air throne in a private tropical garden, complete with bidet to wash your bum instead of using toilet paper. You can also pay a visit to the girl-friendly ‘pee garden’ – which helps you cut down on your water-flushing and TP-use even more.
Hedonisia Hawaii Eco Hostel runs off geothermal energy from the nearby Kiluaea Volcano, and has a volunteer program in place that means you can work on the farm in exchange for lodgings. Places to sleep include a cabin built into an abandoned tractor, tents, a yellow school bus and a hut made out of strawberry guava. Yes, really.
Un Destino No Turistico Eco Camping and Hostel
As you might guess from the kinda uncompromising name, Un Destino No Turistico Eco Camping and Hostel in Patagonia isn’t your typical place to stay. For starters, if you arrive by bike you get a 10% discount, but if you arrive by car you pay 10% more – which goes on buying second-hand bikes for guests to use for free. There’s no cell phone, internet or tv access – instead you’ll spend time exploring and camping round the hostel’s stunning 16 hectares of land, hiking the equally mind-blowing Campo de Hielo Norte or hanging out at nearby town Puerto Guadal (pop. 700).
Living off the land nearly exclusively, Un Destino No Turistico prepares meals with organic, home-gown produce using a parabolic sun cooker, solar oven and hay box cooker, and has solar-powered showers.
Port O’Call Eco Lodge
This Port O’Call Eco Lodge in Port Douglas, Australia, is just 5 minutes’ walk from the beautiful Four Mile Beach and 10-12 minutes’ walk to the Marina and Port Douglas Village. Even better than that though, it’s one of the few properties in the area given 4 green stars by AAA Tourism for being environmentally friendly and ecologically sustainable.
The resort-style lodge is ecologically sustainable with solar heating, a seawater swimming pool and wind turbines to power all the lighting. The hostel also has a waste minimisation programme and has been awarded a Developing Sustainable Communities Award. Their aim now is to be the most energy efficient property in Australia.