These days, it seems that everyone is trying to be more environmental friendly, more eco-conscious, more green, in every aspect of our lives.
And travel should be no different, says Eleni Andreadis, head of sustainability at Sani Resort and Oceania Club in Halkidiki Greece. Here are Eleni’s top tips on how to make your next holiday as green as possible.
**1. Location, Location, Location**
Unless you stay at home, or walk or cycle to your vacation destination, going on holiday is likely to involve some form of carbon-intensive travelling.
Let’s get the facts first. Tourism contributes 5% to total global greenhouse gas emissions, 40% of which is due to air travel. Yet it is also worth considering that when practiced responsibly, tourism offers local communities the opportunity to prosper sustainably instead of turning to other carbon-intensive activities (for example the burning and clearing of forests which places more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the whole transportation sector put together).
While we wait for aircraft fuel efficiency to improve, the advice is straightforward: closer to home is best, travelling by land and especially rail is better than plane and short-haul flights are better than long-haul flights.
If you do fly, offset . Most airlines now offer this option when booking your flight, and if not, you can do so online with a number of companies.
But make sure to read the fine print and look into where your money is going: funds directed towards renewable energy production make for a much more measurable and credible offsetting investment than tree-planting.
Next thing to consider is where to stay. With the myriad of green certifications, most still in their infancy, this is no easy feat. Look into the details and credibility of a specific hotel eco certification: does the hotel go through a self-assessment process to be awarded the label remotely, or is there an onsite inspection by an independent third body?
In Europe, certification programmes to look out for are the EU Flower, the Green Key, EarthCheck, tour operator award TUI Umwelt Champion, and environmental management schemes such as ISO 14001 and EMAS.
But you shouldn’t stop there. Most hotels, if they are serious about their green programme, are likely to include details about it on their website.
At Sani, while the hotels were awarded the Green Key for carbon footprint reduction efforts, we also run initiatives such as reforestation programmes and wildlife studies. Reading up on the details of a hotel’s environmental programme will give you a clearer idea of what to expect.
3. Packing – What to Bring?
Travelling lightly reduces the amount of fuel necessary to keep the aircraft in the air. And moreover, a greener holiday needs some wise packing. A refillable set of shampoo bottles will go a long way towards ignoring the disposable ones you may find at the hotel.
Bring a reusable water bottle along to save on buying plastic ones. And bring sunscreen – the chances that you’ll find your favourite biodegradable sunscreen locally if you are visiting an isolated location are remote; scientists have linked dying sea life to the sunscreen that washes off swimmers, so pack a natural, biodegradable one.
**4. Don’t Waste Water**
You’ve arrived, you’ve checked in. Your room is fabulous, but clammy. Your first impulse is to run a cold bath. Studies show that even the conscientious among us, when donning the hat of a tourist tend to be more wasteful with water, energy usage and waste creation than we are at home.
At Sani, we’ve installed water-flow reducers in bathrooms and we recycle water for gardening use, but we still need all the help we can get from our guests in conserving water, as water shortages are a very acute problem in Greece.
5. Easy on the AC
Your conscience has won this one and the cold bath is out. But after your short, cold shower, you’re still feeling hot. So you grab that air-conditioning remote and turn the dial down to Antarctica. Turning it up, even one or two degrees, will make a big difference in saving energy. The largest single energy wasters for a hotel are air-conditioning and lighting. Also, unless it is necessary, don’t ask for your linen to be changed daily.
6. Recycle and Reuse
When it comes to shopping, reuse a cloth bag instead of one-use plastic ones, and if there’s a recycling scheme at the hotel, take part in it. We offer recycling in our hotel rooms but would like to increase the participation of guests in the programme!
**7. Eat Local**
Make sure you taste the seasonal, local products available, that haven’t flown thousands of miles to get to you, and will bolster the local economy. If there are local, organic products on the menu, make sure you go for those. At Sani, we’ve started an organic garden that supplies our hotels. If there is such a programme at your hotel, its continued success depends on your support.
8. Shop Local
Be sure to venture out to the local community. This doesn’t mean stocking up on souvenirs you don’t need, but leaving your hotel and checking out the local food and culture will ensure the wider local community benefits from tourism.
9. Enjoy Nature
At Sani, we encourage guests to learn about and experience the miles of hiking paths the company’s forest team preserves, or grab a map and take a bird watching trip at the bird sanctuary.
10. Give Feedback
Provide the hotel you’ve visited with feedback on its environmental performance. Hotels take your opinion very seriously and few hotels can claim to be perfect. The industry has a long way to go and your feedback is critical in making sure future holidays are greener and more in demand.
_Eleni Andreadis is in charge of Sustainability at Sani Resort and Oceania Club in Halkidiki, Greece. After starting her career as a strategy management consultant in London, Eleni soon focused on environmental consulting. She earned her Master’s in Environmental Policy and Media at Harvard University, and has presented and produced for a variety of environmental channels in the UK and US. She recently designed an environmental hotel certification scheme for the Greek Ministry of Tourism, and is a member of the Committee for the Green Key Award in Greece, where she is currently based._
__ ___Sani Resort is set within 1,000 acres of ecological reserve blessed with pine forests, olive groves and a bird sanctuary, family-run Sani Resort boasts five miles of EU-flagged golden beaches, four elegant hotels, three Spas, a private marina and a wide variety of bars and restaurants._