How to spot an eco-friendly hotel

This spring break, consider honoring Earth Day by staying in a sustainably minded hotel. Find out what to look out for, from environmental certification to organic linens.

eco-friendly hotel

Being eco-friendly extends far beyond eating organically and recycling, but sometimes the lingo can be tricky to decipher. This short guide will help you make more sustainable choices on your next vacation. Here are a few things to keep your eyes open for when selecting a hotel.

Check out more eco-friendly travel tips >>

LEED certification

This is the gold standard of sustainability for restaurants, hotels, and other buildings. Short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (awarded by the US Green Building Council), this certification is an easy way to tell that a facility meets rigorous sustainability standards in energy efficiency, materials and water usage. A seal of approval from the Green Key Eco-Rating System, EarthCheck or the Green Hotels Association are good as well.

Linen re-use

A simple thing that many hotels are doing to be more eco-friendly is to not change the sheets and towels each day. Check to see if the hotel you are considering staying at offers a towel and sheet re-use program. Usually they have a system whereby you can signal that you would like to have your linens cleaned (or not), and cutting back even a little bit saves a tremendous amount of water and energy.

Non-toxic cleaners

One basic thing any hotel can do to be more green is to use non-toxic cleaners. Don’t be shy about asking what kind of cleaners they use. Often eco-friendly hotels will advertise this sort of thing on their website and will happily tell you about it.


Ask if the hotel you are looking into recycles. Standard paper and plastic recycling is a good start, but reusing “graywater” (kitchen and laundry water), is another thing to watch for. Hotels can recycle this water, which would otherwise be discarded, by using it to water the grounds.


One easy way to get a sense of a hotel’s sustainability efforts is to check out the restaurant. If they proudly advertise using local, organic produce, having a rooftop garden, recycling frying oil or engaging in other eco-friendly practices, then there is a good chance the hotel has a similar mindset.

Read how to plan an eco-friendly vacation that can help save the world  >>

More tips for eco-friendly living

Sustainability made simple: Ways to start at home
Plan a complete home energy makeover
How to design a green home