Cultural Experience | United States

7 Reasons Hostels are Eco-Friendly By Nature

 As if meeting cool people from across the globe while saving a few bucks wasn’t enough, hostels also help keep your carbon footprint to a minimum.

In fact, just by staying at a hostel, you can be a more environmentally-friendly traveler. Here’s how:

1.  Sharing is caring. While private rooms at many hostels are available, the majority of rooms are dormitory style, with travelers from all over the world sharing the same room. So instead of your 5 roommates from China, Australia, England, Portugal, and Argentina each having 5 separate overhead light switches and air conditioning units, you’re sharing one energy source.

2.  Certifiably green. If you stay at a Hostelling International USA (HI-USA) hostel, then you can be assured that each hostel meets a certain standard of sustainability standards – it’s a requirement.   Over a dozen of their hostels have earned green certification, with more in the works. Additionally, the global brand, Hostelling International – which has more than 4,000 hostels in 90 countries – has a whole sustainability charter to reduce the carbon footprint of its collection of hostels worldwide and has already reduced nearly 190 tons of carbon.

3.  Wash, rinse, don’t repeat. When you stay at a hostel, sheets and towels only get washed at the end of your stay. It saves a tremendous amount of water, and who washes their linens every day anyway?

4.  Take a ride. Hostels know most of their guests are traveling on a budget, so being situated near public transportation is essential for many of them, especially in the big cities. Not only does it make your stay more convenient and cost effective, it’s also much more eco-friendly to take a bus or subway than to rent your own car.

5.  Food for thought. Many hostels offer self-serve kitchens stocked with pots, pans, and cooking tools, allowing you to cook up your own creations. Cooking your own food helps eliminate takeout food packaging, plus hostellers love to share, so nothing goes to waste. Just look in the “free food bin” and you’ll find half a loaf of bread, peanut butter, spices, and other items up for grabs that past guests didn’t want to take with them, but didn’t want to put in the trash either.

6.  Give back. Several countries that have hostels in the Hostelling International collection run them as nonprofits, so you might find hostel-led community service projects to take part in during your stay that directly benefit the surrounding area. And if they’re not running one at the moment, their staff can tell you how to find someone who is. It’s a great way to meet locals and leave the area you’re visiting better than when you arrived.

7.  It takes one to know one. With guests typically under age 30, hostels are filled with the most environmentally-conscious generation yet. Being surrounded by other guests who want to minimize their impact inspires everyone to take that extra step.

Hostelling in itself is an eco-friendly way to travel, but if you want to visit a few hostels that take sustainability to a whole new level, check these out:

HI-Boston – You’ll find chairs made from Coca Cola bottles, tables made from recycled aluminum, energy-efficient elevators, automatic light times, and many other features that enhance this high design hostel in Massachusetts.

Twentytu Hi-Tech Hostel – Situated in the center of Barcelona, this new concept hostel was built with sustainability in mind and earned the title as Best Green Hostel 2014 by HostelWorld.

The Grampians YHA Eco-Hostel – Located in Victoria, Australia, this hostel resides in the Grampians National Park and features a range of eco-initiatives, including solar hot water and rainwater collection.

The Mosaic House – This is the first hostel in the Czech Republic to utilize a water recycling system and 100% renewable energy, and has received several awards as a top place to stay in Prague.


Netanya_headshotNetanya has worked, volunteered, and enjoyed life around the world, from the Australian Outback to the micro French island, Ile D’Hoedic. During her travels, she stayed at dozens of hostels and still has friends that she made along the way from more than 10 years ago. She is lucky to now be working for Hostelling International USA (HI-USA) as their Communications & PR Manager and encouraging others to have the same life-changing experiences she did. Netanya holds a Masters in Advertising from Boston University and a Bachelor’s in Communications from the University of Michigan.

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