3 Easy Ways To Measure Your Travel Footprint – World Earth Day Series

Do you know how your carbon footprint is measured? And what qualifies as an eco holiday? As part of our World Earth Day 2018 series we explore the ways sustainable travel is measured so to find out more we spoke to sustainable travel experts Ecobnb and Green Pearls® who each have innovative ways to measure how sustainable your travel is.


1.Measuring travel impact through the amount of CO2 generated.

Ecobnb: The first time we saw the infographic of the amount of CO2 generated by tourism (See report here), we were amazed by the great impact of transport, especially plane travel. Immediately afterwards we realized that hospitality (hotels, etc.) also had a value of around 21% of the total impact of tourism. This is how Ecobnb‘s efforts began to encourage accommodation facilities to reduce their CO2 emissions with clear and simple actions to implement.

To promote virtuous accommodations, we have measured their good environmental actions, which are reported transparently on the website to travellers, and are schematised with a number of green leaves. We have also tried to quantify the good actions in terms of CO2 saved compared to a traditional hotel to give an idea of the “concrete effect” the choice of each traveler may have.

CO2 emissions have no color, no smell, no taste, so maybe it is so difficult for people to understand the environmental hazard in terms of CO2 emissions. If CO2 emissions, for example, stink, it would be easier to make a personal effort to reduce them.

Ecobnb’s requirements for sustainable travel

2. Measuring the impact of travel by number of trees.

Ecobnb: With “How Many Trees”, we thought it would be easier and more straightforward to talk about trees saved rather than CO2 saved. Trees can be seen, give us oxygen and shade, brighten up our daily life. So we measured the advantage of choosing an eco-friendly B & B compared to a traditional hotel through the number of trees saved. Every good practice implemented by the B & B, such as proposing organic and local food, is measured in the number of trees (see image below). We have found that this “How Many Trees” calculator can easier motivate people to change their travel habits.
Read more about sustainable travel with Ecobnb here and also their great article on the impact of European tourism on the environment.

Ecobnb can tell you how many trees will you save staying in one of their eco accommodations

3.  A mean list of eco criteria to measure up to.

Sustainable travel experts Green Pearls® are a leading source for green hotels around the world and they choose their members based on their sustainable initiatives and green projects.  To qualify with Green Pearls® and be considered for inclusion the hotels they partner with must follow 80% of their requirements influenced by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. These are comprehensive as you can see from the below, but ensure the environment and the local cultures remain intact. 

Management Plan

  • The business has implemented a long-term sustainability management system that is suitable to its reality and scale, and that considers environmental, quality, health and safety issue.
  • The hotel is in compliance with all applicable local, national and international regulations, among others health, safety, environmental and labour aspects.


  • Land use is in full compliance with local zoning laws and regulations and respects laws related to protecting local nature and culture
  • Local residents have not been involuntarily relocated from the land, endangered species have not been relocated and impact on nature is minimized
  • Building materials should be local and environmental friendly
  • Old buildings are maintained whenever possible
  • Local architecture, practices and design
  • Employment of local workers
  • Access and information for persons with special needs, where appropriate
    acquisition of land complies with local communal and indigenous rights and consent

Flora and Fauna

  • Garden with native plants
  • Disturbance of natural ecosystem is minimized, rehabilitate and there is a compensatory contribution to conservation managemen
  • Pest Control with out chemicals
  • Protection of flora and fauna
  • Organic Garden
  • No species of wild animals acquired, bred or held captive, except by authorized persons for properly regulated activities in compliance with local and international law
  • Carbon footprint per tourist/night is monitored andantinos are taken to avoid and reduce carbon emissions
  • Remaining emissions are offset
  • Guests and employees are motivated to use climate friendly transport and informed about alternatives

Water Consumption

  • Water usage goals are monitored
  • Water and Ice used for human consumption is demonstrably safe
  • Water usage and reduction goals are specified and monitored
  • Water treatment plant
  • water comes from sustainable sources
  • waste water is effectively treated and is only reused or released safely, with no adverse effects to the local population or the environment
  • Rain water is captured for use

Energy Consumption

  • Energy- and resource-efficient technologies
  • Energy Efficient Bulbs
  • Alternative Energy USE
  • Motion sensor and timer switch
  • Renewable EnergyEnergy Consumption
  • Effort to constantly increase usage of renewable energy
  • Energy consumptions is measured and steps are taken to minimize overall consumption
  • Energy- and resource-efficient technologies (e.g. Energy Efficient Bulbs (LEDs), Motion sensor and timer switch)
  • Alternative Energy USE

Waste Management

  • Waste volume/weight and reduction goals are specified, recorded and monitored.
  • No plastic for the toiletries, the packing must be recyclable
  • Avoiding waste by not using plastic, providing waste separating facilities when possible, recycling of garbage, education and training of staff
  • Waste disposal has no adverse effect on the local population or the environment


  • Toilet flush should be water conserving
  • Toiletries must be biological and biodegradable
  • Towels and bed linen not to be changed daily automatically
  • Biodegradable soap and cleaning products


  • Fair trade
  • Offering organic food and herbals
  • Using local products and organic farms whenever possible
  • Avoiding plastic when serving meals
  • Focus on local/regional cuisine


  • Purchasing policy favors environmentally friendly products for building materials, capital goods, food and consumable.
  • Business has a policy of favoring certified suppliers or suppliers following best environmental and social practices
  • Policy against any form of exploitation and harassment


  • Labour rights are respected, and benefits meet or exceed local and national regulations
  • Hiring local staff whenever possible (also in management positions)
  • Employees are involved in the development process and introduction of the management plan
  • Employees receive training and capacity building
  • Involving local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances
  • Developing plans to support local people
  • No social, gender or racial discrimination of any kind is practiced or supported

Local communities

  • Involving local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances
  • Developing plans to support local people
  • Trainings for locals to improve job opportunities
  • Support of local companies and manufacturers of sustainable products
  • Hotel activities do not jeopardize the proviso of basic services (such as food, water, energy, healthcare or sanitation)

Social Projects

  • Support of local infrastructure and community development of schools, kinder gardens, hospitals
  • Training and education of local communities, projects who engage in impacts of climate change)
  • Support of local social projects

Cultural Commitment

  • Company policy includes established guideline or code of conduct of behavior concerning the protection of local cultures and historical sites.
  • The business does not exploit the cultural intellectual property of the local community
  • Cultural sensitivity and respect between tourists and hosts, local culture, e.g. visits of local communities as well as cultural and historical sites
  • Integration of the culture in everyday life of the tourism
  • Historical artifacts are not sold, traded or displayed, except as permitted by law
  • Contribution to conservation, preservation and strengthening of traditional, culture, Archeological and spiritual sites


  • The Hotel has implemented a comprehensive Communication strategy to inform guests on its sustainable policies
  • The hotel communicates its products and services transparently, also but not only in regards to sustainability
  • The hotel offers information about the surrounding nature, local culture and cultural heritage as well as about appropriate behavior during visits

Read more about Green Pearls’ requirements here.

For further inspiration on where to travel sustainably visit
Ecobnb and Green Pearls.


Eloise loves unpacking when she gets to a hotel, finding the best coffee shop at any destination, and that first G&T on the plane.

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