HI Hostels Blog

Celebrating Germany’s unique eco hostelling journey

Social, cultural & ecological

Our friends at the German Youth Hostelling Association (DJH) have been championing sustainable development for the past 25 years. Now celebrating their green anniversary, they take us on a journey back through their model projects and the eco legacy that their Environmental Youth Hostels leave for young travellers. 

 First model projects

In the mid 1980’s, topics like waste prevention and climate protection were a main goal for hostels. It quickly became clear that climate education for a new generation of travellers had to be more than a few practical climate protection skills. So with the end of the ’80s, a set standard for “Environmental Youth Hostels” developed. Today,19 DJH youth hostels in Germany have been awarded this green standard. With their outstanding, continuously evolving programs, they promote and develop climate friendliness, and encourage social responsibility by being energy efficient, championing healthy eating, growing or providing organic food, holding educational programs as well as conservation of natural resources and regional involvement.

Leading change

The hostel movement has taken a leading role when it comes to looking after our planet and changing the future of travel into a sustainable one. Hostels in Germany have been protecting the environment across the spectrum, from anti-bullying campaigns to installing regenerative energy – like thermal power stations and solar plants.

Here are just a few big highlights for eco hostelling in Germany over the past two decades:

jumping nature

1989 & 1990s
  • DJH took its first steps in developing nature & climate education programs
  • Sunday Fun-day class trips & holiday courses held discussing solar energy
  • The Environmental Department was set up in Germany’s head office.
  • “Having a good time, naturally” launched – a pilot for the World Expo 2000 in Hannover
  • DJH signed a sustainability declaration, dedicating themselves officially to taking responsibility for preserving and developing the next generation’s right to explore the world freely
  • Lauterbach hostel launched a Rainforest Life Camp in its pretty national park setting
  • The Future Friends project got young people interested and involved in topics like climate change and environmental protection, with rewards for commitment.
  • In 2012 alone, DJH avoided 17,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions thanks to hostels in Brilon and Norderney
  • “Animate the future!” was launched; an animated film project relating to environmental issues and for any budding film makers, there is an animated film competition running this year
  • DJH now run an extensive list of programs, including educational projects, veggie days, and encouraging the use of organic produce.
future plans           Keep an eye out for:

  • The new Fit & Healthy Hostel award, going to the top spot for healthy travel enthusiasts
  • Up-and-coming project ‘Geogames’, combining the experience of nature with communication technology.

Pick an eco-hostel in Germany:

DJH rate their hostels according to their ‘index of sustainability’, a concept designed to measure their hostels’ eco friendliness:

Check out the list of quality, eco-certified hostels in Germany here.

Recently the youth hostels in Lingen, Norddeich, Neuharlingersiel and Juist were awarded the certificate of CO2 Neutrality.


Keen to get involved with our eco tourism efforts? Read more about our projects and volunteering opportunities here.

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