My account of creating a greener life.

Is Airbnb the greener choice?

My summer has involved a lot of travel. Unfortunately, much of that travel has been by plane, which means a lot of carbon emissions. (The ethics of plane travel deserve an entire blog post – I’ll have to write about that another time!)

When I wasn’t staying with family or friends, I used Airbnb. Admittedly, I didn’t do this because I’d assessed the sustainability of each of my options. I mostly considered price and convenience. However, I couldn’t help but notice the green behavior that an Airbnb encourages as opposed to a hotel.

Below, I’m sharing my favorite reasons that staying in an Airbnb proved “greener” for me. Of course, this choice won’t be right for everyone, but if you’re making any travel plans in the future, definitely consider the pros of an Airbnb!

Eating in & eating out

I love that staying in an Airbnb often means having your own kitchen. Making my own breakfast certainly saved me money – but also saved resources.

If you stay in a hotel, you usually have two options: eat the hotel breakfast or go out for breakfast. I don’t find either of these options “bad” though I can’t help but look at a giant breakfast buffet at a hotel and think of their food waste.

When you make your own food, you’re totally in charge of how much waste you generate. I like knowing that I’ve started my day by producing as little waste as possible! And, of course, this still leaves time to adventure to new restaurants for lunch and dinner.

Also (maybe this is just me?) I snack a lot during the day, and staying at an Airbnb allowed me to bulk buy snacks that I could pack with me. I know I didn’t save a ton of plastic, but I did cut down on some packaging waste (and saved money!).

Sheets & towels

I appreciate that hotels sometimes give you the option to limit how much your sheets get washed. Of course, this isn’t the case everywhere!

At an Airbnb, you have total control over how often your sheets and towels go in the wash. I like having the freedom to cut down water use in that very small way.

Getting around

One of the best parts of staying in an Airbnb is the conversation you have with your host when you first check in. All the hosts I’ve had have delighted in showing me a map of the city and giving advice on nearby train and bus stops.

A hotel concierge can certainly help you in a similar way, but I find a hotel is usually more inclined to suggest traveling by taxi. Of course, any hotel that offers in-house bike rentals is a great exception to that rule!

Speaking of which, two of the Airbnbs I’ve stayed in this year have had multiple bikes available to borrow. Yes, for free! There’s no better was to sustainably get to know a city.

Mini bars & extras

I’m sure some people find it inconvenient that an Airbnb often doesn’t include shampoo, conditioner, soap, and all the other extras you’ll often get at a hotel. Admittedly, I’ve had pretty good luck staying at places with well-stocked showers and snack cupboards.

On the whole, though, an Airbnb won’t generate thousands of tiny shampoo and conditioner bottles for guests. Just imagine how much plastic that cuts down!

Though, as I type this, I wonder how significant that tradeoff really is… People will have to bring along travel shampoo anyway. If you have any thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them!

Final thoughts

This post reflects something that has worked best for me. I think that there are also lots of ways to have a greener experience at a hotel (especially one with bike rentals)!

The main point, as always, is that every area of our lives deserve consideration. When we’re on vacation, I think we’re often inclined to write off our behavior since the circumstances are special.

I certainly make less green choices when I’m on vacation, but it’s always good to stop and reflect on how you can make every day greener – even while traveling!


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