Our Hostels – How travellers and Hostels can reduce CO2 emissions!

Last modified on October 25th, 2017 at 2:56 pm

April 05, 2017

As April begins, here at Hostelling International we continue to celebrate the 2017 UN Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by running our 10-month campaign showcasing the 10 different and interrelated areas of sustainable hostelling.

In March we celebrated ‘Our Nature – Managing Waste & Water’, check out some of the many great projects and inspirational actions taken by our Associations and Hostels.

thumbnail_Clean Up Australia Day - YHA Australia
YHA Australia kicked off the month with their great contribution for the ‘Clean-up Australia’ day
Earth Hour YHA Australia 2017
For Earth Hour, YHA Sydney Harbour has organized a fully sustainable –no waste activity
The Espinosa de los Monteros Hostel from the Spanish Association REAJ have tackled the importance of reducing and reusing waste in the Pasiegos Valleys
thumbnail_Aracaju Aju Hostel - HI Brasil
Aracaju Aju Hostel of HI Brazil show how they use food waste from their breakfast

We are inspired by these initiatives and all the other projects that have reached us! We thus continue our Sustainable tourism through Hostelling campaign in April with this topic:

3. Our_hostels_label_colour_high

Apart from working towards the same HI mission, all our hostels have something else in common: their buildings. From castles, to renovated farms, old prisons, turf houses and pharmacies… All HI hostels carry a story through their buildings, the places that accommodate millions of travellers every year. And what buildings have in common is that they release CO2 when warming up, cooling down, heating water etc.

What does ‘Carbon Neutrality’ actually mean for Hostelling International?

As Brian Westwood, YHA New Zealand said it: “Being carbon neutral is a term that’s thrown around a lot, but the idea is that for an organisation, the amount of equivalent carbon dioxide emitted equals zero. This might seem impossible, but it can happen through a process of measuring activities that contribute to equivalent carbon emissions, reducing them and offsetting remaining emissions via a certified third party”.

How does HI calculate, measure and compensate for CO2 emissions?  

HI’s partner to fight climate change, calculate and compensate for CO2 emissions is myclimate.

Since April 2012, Hostelling International offers its guests the option of CO2 compensation when booking overnight stays. This option is currently offered in 35 countries. All contributions flow to three international myclimate UN Gold Standard Projects in Peru, China and Malawi where we provide new jobs, contribute to local growth and increased levels of health. HI also adds a donation of 0.10 GBP per night for the HI Sustainability Fund (HISF), which finances network projects to reduce our CO2 emissions. Read more about it here.

During the month of Our Hostels, we address the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):


So how does being ‘carbon neutral’ apply in practice at the HI Hostels?

From reviewing the type and amount of electricity used at the hostels, the way the water is heated and its usage, the provenience of the food offered and the transportation means chosen, our hostels are already taking steps to minimise the carbon emissions of their operations.

There are many actions our hostels and you can take to reduce your carbon footprint and these actions are found in all 10 Areas that HI is using to deliver the brand promise and the HI Sustainability Policy during the 2017 UN Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. You missed the news about HI’s 10-month campaign? Read more about it here.

Check out two of our Star Projects for the month:

NZ - Star project picture

carboNZero Certification – Minimising our impact on the planet with YHA NEW Zealand

Swiss YH - Star project picture

Best buildings & Minergie Standard at the Swiss Youth Hostels

Do you still wonder what you as a traveler can do to minimize your CO2 emissions? Here are a few tips to get you started:


User water responsibly: Use accordingly the double flush if in place, close the water tap while brushing teeth, bring your own towel and wash it only when needed (is it really needed to wash it daily?)

Purchase wisely: Choose to purchase locally produced and in-season food to save up on all those emissions caused by transportation! Also, think twice, do you really need all that stuff?

Plant some trees: It will not reduce all your carbon emissions but it’s surely a start! 

Sharing is caring: When travelling around the country, try to share the car. Have too much luggage and want to leave things behind? Don’t throw things away, check with your hostel donation possibilities

Disconnect to re-connect: Switch off lights and make sure to disconnect from the virtual world when travelling by connecting to fellow travellers and the wonderful nature around you. Who knows, you might end up re-connecting with yourself :)

Spread the word: If you notice great sustainable practices (or not so great) at your accommodation place, do let them know! If good practices are of benefit for the travellers, the community,  the nature around and our entire planet, why not get more of those?

If you have already experienced great sustainable practices in one of our HI Hostels around the world, please share with us in comments below! We would love to hear about your hostelling experiences!

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


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