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Vacation Rentals: How to Make Your Stay Sustainable

Vacation Rentals: How to Make Your Stay Sustainable

Travelers choosing to stay in a vacation home instead of a hotel may have to spend more time searching for sustainable lodgings, but ultimately they will have more control over their environmental impact. The following are steps short-term renters can take to shrink their carbon footprint.

The nonprofit Sustonica validates short-term rentals based on sustainability standards, including conserving water and minimizing waste. But it does not act as a search engine. Instead, travelers will find its logo on certified listings on platforms like Airbnb and

Airbnb’s rental categories can help travelers find off-the-grid options, highlighting more than 9,000 listings that rely on renewable energy sources or have no electricity, and Earth Homes, a set of accommodations built with organic materials such as mud or rammed earth., which lists vacation homes as well as hotels, allows travelers to search for listings with sustainability certifications from more than 65 organizations doing third-party reviews of practices ranging from renewable energy sourcing to recycling.

The company said that more than 16,500 properties, a combination of hotels and rentals, have separate, third-party sustainability certification.

The vacation home rental platform Vrbo does not have an eco-friendly search filter, citing the lack of industry consensus on what makes a rental more sustainable. Properties listed by its sibling agency Expedia may say they are “eco-certified” and users can search using that filter. But read the results carefully; some listings lack information on their sustainable features.

Wherever you search, scrutinize the listings, said Bob Garner, the founder of EnviroRental, a service that works with short-term rental owners on sustainability practices. Do bathroom photos show shampoo in large, shareable dispensers? Does the description mention recycling? If the host has a separate website, look for press links or blog posts related to sustainability.

According to Airbnb, more than 80 percent of its hosts say they incorporate at least one sustainable feature, such as composting, minimizing single-use plastics and providing guidance on using public transportation. The platform maintains a guide for hosts on sustainable tourism practices, with tips on things like creating a manual to direct travelers to local shops, restaurants and markets.

“When you think you’ve found the right property, ask…

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