Many environmentalists will argue that travel is not “green” friendly. They encourage us to stay close to home and the term “staycation” has been coined as a way to make staying at home for a holiday more appealing. As a mom of 2 kids, this is a hard sell to my little ones, who are excited to head to the beach or explore a new city for their days off from school. I have to admit, even being a green mom, I support their desire to explore the big wide world, and encourage them to become interested in the culture of other places and the desire to see things other than their everyday scenery. But how do I encourage travel while keeping our carbon footprint in check?
To my relief, one of my most trusted green stamps of approval are spreading their expertise into creating green standards for hotels. That’s right, out of the many hotels that applied for the highly coveted Green Seal, 85 of them in 20 states across the country have been awarded the Green Seal. What does this mean for us? Booking that vacation, while trying to be green, just got a whole lot easier for our family.
I can now be assured that when I book a Green Seal-certified hotel, environmental practices are in full operation. Certified hotels are required to minimize waste, reuse & recycle; be energy and water efficient; reduce or eliminate any hazardous substances and establish an environmentally sensitive purchasing policy.
Hotels certified under Green Seal’s Lodging Standard reduce their carbon footprint. As an example, three of Kimpton’s Chicago properties-Hotel Monaco, Hotel Burnham and Hotel Allegro diverted about 116 tons of recyclables from landfills last year, or about 45 percent of such waste after green certification. New research indicated that one Green Seal certified hotel saved green house gas emissions equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 73 passenger vehicles or the CO2 emissions from the energy use of 35 homes for one year.
“Green Seal certified lodging is expanding hotel-by-hotel and chain-by-chain,” said Dr. Arthur Weissman, President and CEO. “We are encouraged that both the Kimpton Hotels and Great Wolf Resorts have recognized the value of chain-wide green certification. Kimpton, a lifestyle boutique hotel company, is aggressively moving forward to attain 100 percent Green Seal certification this spring and Great Wolf Resorts, North America’s largest family indoor waterpark resorts, was the first to have all U.S. properties Green Seal certified in the spring of 2009.”
A waterpark with a Green Seal, did I mention I have 2 kids, see you there!
There are currently three levels a hotel can qualify for: Bronze, Silver and Gold – so look out for these seals or even ask when you are booking a hotel if they are a Green Seal hotel and what level do they have.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this logo of green excellence, here is your Green Seal 101:
- Green Seal is an independent, non-profit organization that uses science-based standards to indicate (and help) companies to produce products or services to the public that are environmentally sustainable.
- Green Seal works with manufacturers, industry sectors, purchasing groups, and governments at all levels to “green” the production and purchasing chain. They utilize a life-cycle approach, which means evaluating a product or service beginning with material extraction, continuing with manufacturing and use, and ending with recycling and disposal.
- Products only become Green Seal certified after rigorous testing and evaluation, including on-site plant visits.
- Green Seal’s standard-setting process is open, collaborative, fair, and completely transparent. You can look them up on line for yourself so you can understand what a product or service has done to gain this badge of honor: www.greenseal.org.