HI Hostels Blog

Consuming Sustainably – For travellers and hostels!

In case you’ve missed the news, we are celebrating the UN Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by running a 10-month campaign showcasing projects and practices in our HI Hostels around the globe.

We have kicked off the campaign with this topic:

01. Consuming_Sustainably_label_colour_high

During the month of February, our hostels are tackling Consuming Sustainably, sharing best practices and striving to improve their practices on the topic.

What are the challenges hostels and travellers face?  What does responsible purchasing truly mean? How is it related to sustainability? How to create a sustainable purchasing policy? These are all questions we are trying to answer.

So what does Consuming Sustainably actually mean for HI?


Consuming Sustainably in our hostels means making conscious decisions on buying products that ensure continued great service and quality for you, while at the same time supporting our communities and minimising the negative impact on the environment.

From remote hostels in natural reserves to hostels located right in the centre of famous cities, our hostels face different challenges! We believe our guests and hostels staff have the potential to help the tourism industry by making conscious decisions.

Check out two of our Star Projects for the month:

HI Norway
Consuming locally – Lillehammer Hostel

Lillehammer HI Hostel has a policy of doing as much of their purchasing as possible, locally. Not only do they have their own bakery and kitchen where locals come to shop, but they cooperate with local businesses and organisations to have them each decorate a room in the hostel! Starting January 2017 the hostel is also part of the Too Good To Go campaign which uses food that will otherwise be thrown away.

Taste the difference – Scotland

In February 2016, the Scottish Youth Hostel Association has made a decision that all food and beverage (including alcohol) served in Scottish youth hostels are sourced locally and of Scottish provenance. Everything from eggs to dairy to packed lunches is sourced locally. Whether it Mackie’s crisps in packed lunches or fresh yoghurt from Arran dairies (and they shout from the rooftops about this!). Try it out when you give Scotland a visit!

How can YOU consume sustainably during your travels? How can you be a responsible traveller?

• Where possible, choose to purchase locally produced and in-season food. (Extra points for fair trade, organic and non-GMO products!)
• Before buying something, think do you really need to purchase this? Is it useful? Can you borrow it from someone? Saves money and minimises waste.
• Think twice before buying or consuming something made out of an exotic tree, plant or wild animal. You may be contributing to their extinction or exploitation.
• Before travelling, get information about local exotic products (including food!) which may contain illegal products. Many countries, perhaps including your own, have penalties for those caught trafficking products.
• Make sure that the souvenirs you take home have a documented and legal history, aren’t stolen and can be exported. Ask about the origin of what you are buying and always keep in mind your own country’s rich history and heritage and how you would feel if this was taken away from you.
• Purchase electronic tickets and use online confirmations: save travel documents to your mobile devices.
• Rather than buying small size toothpaste tubes, squeeze some toothpaste into a clean contact lens case or a film canister: these are also handy for carrying ointments or pills.
• Take photos with a film or digital camera. Disposable cameras are very wasteful and expensive.

Ok. So we are asking you all of the above… And what do WE do?

This is what we are suggesting to our hostels. Look out for the actions below when visiting an HI hostel:

Quick ones – Actions to take today!

• Introduce more vegetarian meals or do meat free Mondays.
• Buy seasonal fruit and vegetables. You can find online calendars that tell you when produce is in season, for example this UK based calendar.
• Research and buy products that are more sustainable (local/organic/eco/fair trade).
• Purchasing goods produced locally rather than imported and favour local companies, create ‘authenticity’ and cut down on the energy used for transport and distribution.
• Offer in-season produce, for breakfast and restaurant menus.
• Make sure all of your fish comes from sustainable sources.
• Use eco certified cleaning and sanitary products.
• Reduce consumption and buy only what you really need, by keeping track of what is thrown out.
• Buy products in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging and the energy used for deliveries – added plus: the product is likely to cost less too!
• Inform your guests about the origin of the produce you offer and about your initiatives of purchasing sustainably.

Long-term actions – When patience pays-off!
We want to look good of course, but we are working hard behind the scenes too!

• Adopt a Sustainable Purchasing Policy for all goods and services and communicate it with suppliers and guests.
• Purchase new equipment according to its durability, water and energy conservation options.
• Avoid products that have been genetically modified.
• Make sure no wildlife species are harmed as a result of a transaction (goods or services).

If you have already experienced a great local taste or tried one of these tips in one of our HI Hostels, please share with us in comments below! We would love to hear about your hostelling experiences <3

Find out about all the other great areas of sustainable hostelling we will be tackling during 2017.


Safe and sustainable travels!

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