Sustainability is a buzzword most people talk about, but rarely execute on full. To create a vacation home that has zero carbon footprint is virtually impossible without a massive investment into alternative energy sources. This article is a guide to improve the sustainability of your listing, without breaking the bank.
This is so important for anyone looking to improve the sustainability of their listing. In the United States alone, 33 million tons of food is wasted each year. Food alone accounts for approximately 21% of all landfill waste, the largest percentage by far.
Composting allows us to minimize this massive waste factor. Food and other organic waste are broken down and recycled into nutrient rich soil and fertilizer. Some of the ecological benefits of composting include:
- Enriching soil, which in turn retains moisture and suppresses plant disease.
- Reduce the need for chemical fertilizer
- Reduce methane emissions from landfills and lower your carbon footprint.
To set up your composting system, check out the EPA guide here: https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home
Eco-conscience tourists have long removed plastics from their lives. To attract eco-minded individuals, it is important to take care of the little details that these types of travelers value. By minimizing or eliminating all plastic products from your listing, you will open the flood gates in your journey to having zero carbon footprint.
Support local artists & businesses
Supporting the local community is important to ensuring the sustainability of your listing. A painting made by a local artist requires a much smaller carbon footprint to get to you than a Picasso that needs to be shipped in by armed guards from overseas.
Eliminate animal products
Animal products for consumption or decoration are a tremendous source of waste. According to a study by the University of Michigan, eating one vegetarian meal per week can be associated with saving the equivalent of 1,160 miles of greenhouse gasses on the road.
To attract eco-tourists, it goes beyond the consumption of meat. Abstaining from leather goods and animal hide rugs are a great example of this.
Eco cleaning products
The devil is in the details, and the supplies you select to help create phenomenal experiences are no different. Eco friendly cleaning supplies come in many forms, and are certified based on a variety of standards.
The EPA has designated a certification program that extends to cleaning supplies with a Designed for the Environment (DfE) label. Other labels you can look for include a “low VOC,” or “no VOC” meaning volatile organic compounds. For example, if you are looking for a disinfectant, look for products that contain citric acid, peroxide, or lactic acid.
Brands to look for:
- ECOS (Wide variety of products)
- ECOVER (Dishwashing & Laundry)
- BIOKLEEN (Odor removal and laundry)
- BETTER LIFE (Cleaning sprays)
- DR. BRONNER’S (Miracle cleaning product)
- MEYER’S (All purpose cleaning)
Connect your listing to the area
When someone goes on vacation, they want to create experiences that will last a lifetime. When people want just a bed, they stay in a budget hotel/motel. When they want to explore and live like a local, they choose a vacation rental.
When thinking about how you can connect your listing to the local area, understand your surroundings to include activities that are sustainable. For example, if your listing is in a mountain region, consider promoting hikes to guests that the can embark on with a local guide. If you are near a wildlife preserve, consider ways for your guests to get involved with the establishment.
The more you can help your guests connect to the local area, the more you can leverage your sustainability mission in a certified way. It is always important to think about how the decisions you make with your listing reverberate through the local community.
Tell a story
A very famous TED Talk by Simon Sinek dives into the power of why. He goes into the success of brands such as Apple, breaking their products down to what, how, and why. Their products are no different than anything else on the market. In essence, they are the same computers and phones that you can get anywhere. How they are made, is also no different to a certain degree. The major differentiator is their why. People don’t buy what you do, they buy into why you do it. Their why is to be on the cutting edge of innovation across all details, and think differently about consumer electronics than most brands do.
Apple prides their why on innovative products, excellent customer service, and a mission for a sustainable future. Your sustainable vacation rental should follow the same thought process. People won’t be buying into the fact that your home, may be a little bit nicer than the one next door. They don’t buy into how you clean every corner with a toothbrush on every turnover. These are expected by guests across the spectrum. What they will buy into however, is why you chose to place such an emphasis on sustainability, and the details that reflect it.
Interior design for the sustainable mind
Eco-tourists have a very select way of designing their homes. One thing to note is their emphasis on the minimalist lifestyle. Eco-Conscious travelers are critical to the details of a home. They know that some outdated homes waste tremendous amounts of energy, and would be reluctant to stay in one. Compare that to a more modern home with clean counters, and recycled decor, these homes are significantly more attractive to the sustainable traveller.
One of the great added benefits of using recycled furniture over new, is the tremendous cost savings associated with it. Your creative capacity is also limitless through restoration and repurposing.
Minimize the electronics
Many times when people choose a sustainable vacation destination, they want to get back in touch with nature and wellness. Electronics serve as a distraction from the surrounding serenity, and often is considered a negative impression to these travelers.
Consider highlighting aspects of your rental that promote wellness. Maybe that is a meditation room, or a collection of old board games. There is no need to have the latest and greatest technology for every activity. Many people will not even want to spend much time in the house itself. By eliminating the unnecessary electronic distractions, you create an environment that people can trust to be a sustainable destination.
Seed your garden of eden
Gardening is something that many people enjoy as a recreational hobby. When it comes to sustainability, it is a tremendous plus to have vegetables grown on site. If you are able to grown an entire food supply for your guests in house, it will help you reach a near zero carbon footprint.
If building a greenhouse is not in your budget, consider planting vegetables along the side of your yard. Simple vegetables to grow include tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, and lettuce.
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