How to spot greenwashing in the travel industry.
Greenwashing- Behavior or activities that make people believe that a company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is. -Cambridge Dictionary.
Greenwashing is a tactic the travel industry uses to trick people into thinking that they are eco friendly, a term that gets thrown around a lot and can be misused. An example of this is a hotel leaving a note saying to reuse your towels and save on water, thus giving the appearance that they care about the environment when in fact, most of their actions say otherwise. How to spot it- look carefully at the website, if a hotel or resort is taking major steps to be eco friendly they will most likely want to tell you all about it. They probably are spending significant money for these upgrades such as solar panels, building materials, and accreditations; because of this they will most likely have that information highlighted on their website. Sometimes it takes a little digging to figure out what their practices are. Look for tabs that say things like sustainability or community engagement. Don’t be afraid to call them up too if you have specific questions that are not answered on their website. The business representative should be able to clearly tell you what practices they have in place as well as what they are doing to have a positive impact on the community around them.
When it comes to tour companies, some questions to ask are how much of their profit is invested in conservation efforts? How are they minimizing their environmental impact? You can ask if they employ local people, buy locally-sourced products, or if they are involved in community projects. Generally speaking steer clear of any tours that are using animals, such as swimming with dolphins, or riding elephants. Conservation minded companies know that allowing people this kind of experience is not beneficial for wildlife. When looking for small scale accommodations such as bed and breakfasts and home rentals it can be more nuanced. The business probably operates on a much smaller scale than a hotel and thus may not have the funds to do upgrades, but if they have practices such as sourcing their food locally, employing locals, and supporting other small businesses in the community these practices can balance out the equation of regenerative travel. In short, spend your money mindfully with businesses that are genuinely making efforts to create a positive impact on the local community and ecosystem. “All flourishing is mutual”. Robin Wall Kimmerer