Taking a break? Choose an eco place to stay
Making lifestyle choices with a gentler impact on the environment doesn’t only apply to life at home. With summer on the horizon, many of us plan to make the most of the holiday season by heading away for a break. Planning a sustainable escape is another way you can take better care of the planet.
We’ve brought together a bunch of eco retreats and other places around Australia that you might want to consider for your next break. We know there will be plenty of others – if you’ve stayed at a place that puts sustainability at the top of the list, why not leave a comment and let us know?
This retreat sprawls across 1200 acres on the Freycinet peninsula in Tasmania, with ‘earth friendly’ cabins, studios and camp sites with coastal views. The buildings are water and energy efficient, and with a national park and a secluded bay nearby, there are lots of options for getting out in nature, like bushwalking, kayaking, biking, swimming and surfing.
Set in the heart of Grampians National Park and surrounded by native bush and wildlife, the YHA Eco Hostel has been designed with the environment in mind. The premises utilise a solar power system, rainwater collection, grey water re-use and waste recycling. The hostel also features a fully equipped kitchen with seasonal organic herbs, fruit and vegetables for guests, and there are lots of outdoor activities on offer – from rock climbing and hiking to cycling and canoeing.
Karijini offer eco-friendly glamping in the west Australian outback. With comfortable, deluxe eco tents, the facility has been designed to have as little impact on the surrounding environment as possible. And the owners have teamed up with various local tour providers to offer a broad range of nature-based adventures.
This venue has five eco-friendly villas in Crescent Head, NSW, with well known surf breaks at Point Head and Crescent Head Beach are nearby. The tidal creek and lagoon here offer a peaceful setting for kids to paddle in the shallows or for fishing. Sun Worship uses sustainable practices – the villas are built using rammed earth, which is 92% sandstone, providing thermal insulation and a low environmental impact. Water is collected from the rooves and used for toilets and gardens and each villa is oriented towards the sun to make the most of daily rays.
In the Gold Coast hinterland, Gwinganna is a wellness retreat that combines organic food (the property is home to organic gardens), movement, relaxation and seminars. Ecotourism certified, resident botanist and social ecologist John Palmer escorts morning walks and encourages visitors to adopt a more sustainable way of life. Gwinganna is also registered with the Land for Wildlife conservation programme, and its spa uses certified organic skincare.
If your stay is going to be a little more urban, you might want to consider a motel or hotel chain that considers sustainability. Here’s some information about what two chains do to reduce their environmental impact:
The Accor Hotel group has launched Planet 21, a programme for sustainable development. In Australia, this strategy ensures that sustainability is a key operational focus for Accor hotels nationwide, and they have implemented some pretty innovative ideas to be more environmentally conscious. The Pullman, Novotel and ibis at Sydney Olympic Park are powered by solar energy and waste recycling is practiced in 86% of the group’s hotels.
Accor’s hotels in Victoria have partnered with Soap Aid and are helping to reduce landfill and bring better hygiene practices to disadvantaged communities in India. it is expected that more than 1000 kg of previously used soap across 40 hotels will be stockpiled each week and collected by Soap Aid to be reprocessed, packaged, and then sent for global distribution.
The Hilton hotel group has undertaken various eco initiatives to work towards a higher level of sustainability. The Hilton in Sydney currently recycles 85% of all waste, with only 15% going to landfill. They’ve also implemented a food donation program in conjunction with Oz Harvest that redistributes excess food from events held at the hotel.
Here are our top five tips for choosing eco-friendly accommodation:
- Find out if there’s a sustainability plan in place
Before making a booking, check out what’s in practice to minimise the impact on the planet, such as re-using water, using renewable energy and minimising waste.
- Find out whether eco-friendly products are used
Check if the accommodation provider uses gentle cleaners and if they offer plant-based personal care products for guests.
Check what the options are for guests to be kinder to the planet
See if there’s a choice to opt out of daily linen and towel replacement and if there’s recycling and water saving facilities for guests to use if they wish.
- Investigate what the provider does to help the surrounding community
It’s not just internal operations that make your accommodation sustainable. Find out what they do to manage and protect their surrounding natural habitat and see if they have an active role and positive impact on their community.
- Look for environmental certifications
ECO Tourism Australia’s certification program has been developed to assist customers in identifying genuine eco-tourism operators. This certification assures travellers that providers are backed by a strong commitment to sustainable practices. Not only is this a helpful resource to draw on for accommodation decisions, it also covers recreational activity providers that you might want to look into while planning your trip.
ECO Tourism Australia has also partnered with Trip Advisor to launch their Green Leaders program. This requires providers to use energy efficient light bulbs, track energy use, recycle at least two types of waste, have towel and linen re-use plans in place and offer staff training and guest education on green practices.