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This page contains some ideas for making hostels more environmentally friendly. If you have ideas or tips, click the "edit" tab at the top of the page to make changes.

Making Hostels Environmentally Friendly

See also the UK's Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS) criteria and the YHA India charter, as well as for more ideas.


Over 70% of our communal garbage is recyclable. Encouraging your guests using selective bins not only eco-friendly but saves you money as well. The less garbage you have, the less you have to pay for it's removal.(Free selective stations vs. paid garbage tax)

You can separate the following garbage very easily:

  • Paper -- Organic material but recycling paper saves forests.
  • Plastic -- This is the biggest amount of garbage as the most used packing/storing material. If dumped, it takes over 100,000 years to dissolve. Easily recyclable.
  • Glass (colored/white) -- Same as plastic, easily recyclable but takes long time to dissolve.
  • Aluminum -- Recycling aluminum saves a bundle of energy, as extraction and purifying of aluminum takes significant resources.
  • Organic -- If possible to process it by yourself, composted organic garbage could be a perfect costless fertilizer.
  • Toxic waste -- More and more places are accepting batteries, ink toner cartridges, and compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Others include medicines, electronics, other dangerous materials which could poison the nature if dumped.
  • Uncategorized -- This is the real garbage, which is none of above. Usually too complicated to select as it contains plenty different materials. This is the least of your communal garbage.

Hostels should make it clear to guests which type of trash and recycling go into which bins. Please read this forum post.

Public Transportation

  • encouraging and facilitating the use of public transportation


  • furniture and fittings made entirely from recycled materials, and that are further recyclable after your use. One great example is certain lines of carpets. These can be recycled almost indefinitely. Also, when looking into carpets, be sure to look into those that give off low amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This is for the health, safety, and comfort of staff and guests.


  • composting food scraps
  • add ideas and tips for how to compost


Low Flush Toilets

Composting Toilets

Recycled Toilet Paper

  • If possible, choose recycled post-consumer waste toilet paper


A hostel water purifier can reduce the guests' use of environmentally damaging plastic water bottles.
  • water saving faucets and showerheads
  • use of aerators on sink faucets
  • rainwater harvesting system to supply water to toilets
  • Greywater system
  • no-water urinals

Water-saving faucets (timed shut-off) don't help if the faucet is constantly leaking.

This timed faucet is pouring out water even when turned off.

Paper Usage

  • post-consumer recycled paper for the office and front desk
  • reduce printouts from the computer
  • use scrap paper when possible by reusing paper before throwing it away

Reduction of Chemical Usage

Dish soap in a spray bottle to reduce usage.
  • use non-toxic cleaning chemicals
  • bug prevention instead of pest control (e.g., no food scraps in the rooms to attract cockroaches)
  • consider putting dish soap in a spray bottle to reduce soap usage.

See also this list of products for hotels said to be eco-friendly:

Electricity Conservation

  • electricity-saving lightbulbs (if using compact fluorescent light bulbs or CFLs, be sure to dispose of them properly, and not into the general garbage; CFLs contain mercury and/or other toxic chemicals)
  • ceiling fans are better than floor fans, which are both better than air conditioners -- alternatively, build in a way that creates natural ventilation
  • roof garden rich in shrubbery to provide extra insulation
  • Passive house technology:
  • Motion sensors to turn off lights and heating when guests are not around
  • Reclaim heat from wastewater

Alternative Energy

Solar Power

Wind Power

Geothermal Power

Food & Water Consumption

  • The forwarding of all unused non-perishable food to charities or food banks
  • encouraging guests to fill their water bottles at the tap instead of buying a lot of plastic water bottles (which are often just tap water)

Organic Farms

  • organic farm on property

Eco Friendly Construction

  • recycled glass windows
  • doormats made out of recycled tires

Green Hostels

  • Energy Star Certification for buildings (HI-Washington, DC became Energy Star Certified in 2007)
  • Green Seal Certification

Related Links:

Here are some discussion threads about green hostels from the Hostel forum: