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What can you do?

Man sorting out recycling

What can you, the traveller and hostel guest, do to be sustainable?

As travellers we all want to preserve the environments we travel through. Simply consider our top 10 tips on sustainable travel and see how you can help preserve our beautiful planet for generations of future travellers. Together we will make a difference.

1. Discover the real hostel experience and have fun with HI!

Find out as much as possible. The more you know about a World Heritage site before arriving, the more the site will come alive. Look into the site’s history, culture, natural environment, customs, legends, advisory notices and more.
Engage in local culture. The saying, “When in Rome do as the Romans do” is a great starting point. Learn a few words in the local language, it won’t go unnoticed. Your trip provides a unique opportunity to explore a new culture and to see the world through a different perspective. Remember that eating local foods, shopping in local markets and attending local festivals are all part of experiencing the culture.

2. Take only photographs, do not take souvenirs

Leave things as they are. Don’t leave ANY waste in natural areas, even seemingly harmless items like fruit cores or peelings, as it could harm the local ecosystem.
Protect nature. Help us to look after the landscape and wildlife by not littering, safeguarding against fire and using footpaths and cycle-ways responsibly. Try to pick up at least one piece of litter every day - it might not be yours - but it’s not nature's either! For more information ensure you follow the Countryside Code. Smokers: please discard of your cigarette ends carefully. Check out leaflets and displays at the hostel and ask hostel staff for information on things to do, ranger guided events, eco/wildlife tours and public transport.

3. Keep the air clean

Give the car a rest. Leave the car behind, if only for a day. Walk, cycle or use public transport to get around. Your hostel will be happy to provide you with advice. Try to share transport where you can, take the bus, train, walk or bike. You’ll see a lot more and it's cheaper!

4. Buy smart

Shop local. Use local products and services, they give you a flavour of the area and help support local communities. Many hostels and regions are fortunate to have some fantastic producers of food, drink, arts and crafts.
Buy smart. Before purchasing goods, ask about their origin and check that you can recycle the packaging. Avoid buying products made from threatened natural resources and report poaching and other illegal activities to the local authorities. Thank suppliers for their green measures, or don’t be afraid to ask why they don't have a green programme. As a paying customer you can make a huge impact on companies' policies.

5. Reduce, reuse and then recycle

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Try to avoid overly packaged goods and say no to that extra carrier bag. Reuse one of the plastic or cotton bags from the hostel's kitchen. You can also support us in our efforts to recycle – put clean, squashed aluminium cans, glass, paper, card and batteries in the correct bin. Take home items which are not recyclable locally (ie plastic and tetra packs) but can be commonly recycled in urban areas. Ask the hostel if it's unclear where you can dispose of recyclables.

Recycle your waste. Try to avoid overly packaged goods and say no to that extra carrier bag. Reuse one of the plastic or cotton bags from the hostel's kitchen. You can also support us in our efforts to recycle – put clean, squashed aluminium cans, glass, paper, card and batteries in the correct bin. Take home items which are not recyclable locally (eg plastic) but can be commonly recycled in urban areas. Ask the hostel if it’s unclear where you can dispose of recyclables. Recycle your waste where possible. Reduce fast-food waste whenever possible, as it creates an enormous amount of waste.

6. Become an energy saver

Reduce energy by switching off lights when you leave the room, turning down heaters that are not needed, closing doors and windows if heating is on and avoid leaving appliances on standby. Try to also unplug appliances, such as TVs, as they can use as much as 40 watts per hour even when they are turned off!

7. Swap and share

Many hostels have areas where you can leave or swap books, clothes and travel necessities. If you don't need the rest of your shampoo or soap when packing to go home, many hostels have a place where you can leave it for other guests.

8. Reduce your footprint

The reality is that we are not going to stop flying, so when you fly consider offsetting the carbon emissions of your flight and pack light - lighter bags mean lighter planes, which use less fuel. Print only what you need to print, squeeze more information onto the page and print on both sides of the paper. Try to purchase electronic tickets and utilise online confirmations. In some cases you can now save travel documents to your mobile devices! Take part in low carbon activities such as trekking, mountain biking, horse riding, kayaking, rafting, caving, snorkelling, swimming, concerts, theatre trips and language and cooking courses, to help reduce your carbon footprint.

9. Be water wise

Turn off the tap. The world is facing serious water shortage so you can help by turning off the tap when brushing your teeth or shaving, sharing dishwater with others and taking shorter showers (or even sharing them!)
Get a bit grungy. If you’re in unspoiled natural environments you don’t need to wash your hair or shave every day. The detergents you use can be very harmful and it’s a waste of precious water.


10. Get involved

We welcome guests’ comments about additional improvements we can make and how well we are doing. Be part of our Facebook group: HI-Sustainability and tell us your top tips for sustainable travel.