In the world of mindful travel and increased environmental awareness, entrepreneurs and business owners from around the world are increasingly incorporating eco-friendly features and solutions into their businesses, in order to minimize their carbon footprint and raise brand awareness as a greener option for customers.
Such is the prevalent situation in the hospitality industry, with an increasing number of travel accommodations boasting numerous eco-friendly features, predominantly in the realm of energy conservation, but water savings as well. Here are the essential features that make a truly great eco lodge.
What exactly is an eco lodge?
While green hotels and eco lodges are very similar, there is one distinct difference that sets the eco lodge apart from other accommodation types: its location. An eco lodge can be found secluded deep within a natural setting, typically in a forest, or overlooking a mountain range, and even nestled on a riverbank in order for the guest to truly connect with the surrounding wilderness.
An eco lodge is almost always situated in pristine natural environments, while a green hotel is more associated with urban, populated areas. This is why eco lodges stand out as unique destinations for mindful travelers as well as those who are simply looking to rekindle their relationship with nature.
Unlike green hotels, though, eco lodges aim to take part in the preservation of their immediate surroundings rather than just stick to interior green solutions, instead taking the environmental mindset a step further. Likewise, an eco lodge also serves an educational purpose, helping its guests better understand the importance of preserving the local flora and fauna.
An eco lodge will also boast indigenous interior decor, depicting the local culture and heritage, which are also represented by the dishes on the menu, etc. Being a full member of the local community, the eco lodge strives to employ locally, giving fair wages and working conditions to the native people, all the while contributing to the local economy and helping preserve the cultural heritage of the area. The idea is to promote ecotourism as the best long-term business model that brings true value to the guests and the local community.
Key features of a great eco lodge
Indoors, an eco lodge can boast an array of green features that create a sustainable, eco-friendly living environment. Some of the basics include energy-efficient lighting, eco-friendly toiletries and natural cleaning supplies. What’s more, they can include even more effective features, such as solar panels and insulation. These can usually be obtained through affordable energy improvement financing programs as PACE that allow the owner of the lodge to introduce valuable green solutions right away instead of having to catch up with the competition.
LED lighting is the standard eco-friendly feature of green accommodation, with energy-efficient light fixtures able to conserve up to 85% of energy, unlike their traditional, incandescent counterparts that waste most of the accumulated energy on heat. Likewise, the lodge will also have energy-efficient appliances that minimize resource consumption, both in terms of water and electricity.
Recycling is also one of the staples of an eco-friendly lodge, with almost every consumable item in the lodge being natural, locally sourced, and biodegradable. Along with locally sourced food and natural cleaning supplies, an eco lodge will also have organic towels and linens, as well as non-disposable dishes and kitchenware. When all of these features are combined with strict and efficient water conservation methods and renewable energy sources, a truly self-sustainable and eco-friendly cabin is born.
Defining sustainable accommodation
With thousands of eco lodges and green hotels emerging around the world, there needs to be a unified definition that allows certain accommodation to pass as an environmentally friendly unit. As things stand, it can be quite difficult to assess whether a lodge is truly deserving of the “eco” prefix. Fortunately, there are numerous reputable certification programs that mindful individuals, as well as future eco-lodge owners, can study in order to ascertain the quality of certain units.
The most notable of all programs is perhaps the Green Seal in the United States, which is part of the Global Eco Labelling Network. The network is a non-profit association with over 25 third-party organizations around the globe under its wing, all of which aim to develop, promote, and improve green labelling classifications in various industries.
Another important actor in the realm of green certifications is the Global Sustainable Tourism Council Criteria partly sponsored and subsidized by the United Nations World Tourism Organization. This certification is particularly important for eco lodges as it emphasizes the improvement of cultural heritage, effective sustainability planning, reducing carbon footprint and other negative impacts to the environment, as well as maximizing social and economic benefits for the local community.
All in all, eco lodges are slowly becoming the norm in the world of green travel and ecotourism by helping in the preservation of the environment and local cultures, and also by educating mindful individuals about the importance of safeguarding the Earth.