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As sustainable travelling raises and the efforts to create a collaborative economy, a natural outcome is to book a room or house bread & breakfast providers. However, for those who are looking for an eco-friendly Airbnb, choices tend to drastically reduce. Now here’s how you can make your house as sustainable as possible, whether you plan to rent it to conscious travellers or just have your own green getaway.
Are you planning to do Airbnb in your home and you want it to stand out? We have a pretty sustainable solution for you. And since eco-travel is on the rise, and even luxury hotels go green fuelled by the growing trend in sustainable travel, this allows us to have a side hustle while setting up the most unique eco-friendly Airbnb.
Recently our friends at Today We Will suggested: “Book a home instead of a hotel room” because “If 50,000 people stayed in a rented home instead of hotel it could save 18.9 million gallons of water. We will save water by booking homes, not hotel rooms.”
The biggest idea here is that the water waste at hotels require the daily cleaning and toiletry replacements, daily laundry, facilities, groundskeeping, pools, water bottles, etc., and our more lackadaisical approach to conservation that seems to take over when we stay at a hotel vs a home.
If you want to learn more about this download the report “The Sharing Economy and Sustainability: A Case for Airbnb”.
So, let’s jump right into some of my tips to guide you ticking all the boxes of your sustainable home or eco-friendly Airbnb.
Furnish your home with second-hand
Whenever possible… second-hand! You will be surprised by how many treasures these shops have (and as a bonus you will a. Save plenty of money; b. Give back – learn more about
how thrifting shops contribute to positive social impact); c. Find truly unique gems).
Another of my favourites are Facebook market or other popular apps, which varies depending on where you live.
When I furnished my house (just to mention a few):
- I got a huge couch, delivered steam cleaned FOR FREE. It had minor scratches and all I did is buying second-hand covers (in a shop that had a wide range of hotel sheets, towels, carpets etc – all like new).
- I also got a cabinet for $50 that is vintage and definitely the most popular decoration piece. An authentic Balinese table and a huge table with 6 leather chairs, all for $60.
- The best mattress in the world also for free… seriously, not only that people like to throw away stuff but also don’t want the trouble of carrying it with them all the way to their new home. A paradise for professional thrifters!
Of course, in certain cases you may want to invest in furniture that will last you a lifetime – however, this you can also have it with second-hand. We need to move away from the idea that second-hand is bad, or is old, smells, or is going to break. Since I have moved cities and countries so much in the past years I have realised that second-hand markets may not be as easy-to-access, but we are the ones who create a demand for it!
For sure what I have learned is that second-hand goods tell a story.
Green your house with plenty of plants
If you are one of those who like minimalistic decoration and yet you have a generous space, then plants are the best option. With all the freebies I had access to furnish my new house, I decided to accept just what was needed and fill in the corners with plans.
When guests come to my house the first thing everyone says is: “How many plants, I love them”. That is a good start! This is why with plants you make friends, whether you have Airbnb guests or just mates coming over. They are an incredibly fun topic of conversation and you don’t even have to know much about plants – in fact my guests teach me the most: this plant is called “Alocacia” (I call her “Queen” ah!), the best thing about cactus is they don’t need water (oooppsy!), you can use this one for cooking (uh…!). Definitely my passion for plants grows as more guests come over!
Another of the cutest things I have ever done in my kitchen (and please take this tip if you want to create an eco-friendly Airbnb and don’t have a huge backyard), is to plant and display some herbs in the cuisine. Not sure how it works in your area, but whenever I have attempted to buy herbs for my cooking they were expensive, aimed for single-use and they were coming in a protective plastic pouch. Herbs are also very grateful, all you need is light & regular water. Now, go and enjoy the most healthy and organic (pesticide-free) meals.
The final tip is if you live in an area where it rains often, collect the stormwater. This is the best & most healthy water you can use for plants (while you contribute to address the water inequality crisis).
Unplug your TV and switch to a good travel guide
If you are one of those who think that TV is crap, then opting for a World Lonely Planet guide is the best option instead. Do not stress thinking you have to offer television to your guests. Who watches TV anyway? Seriously, those who are travelling either for pleasure or business the last thing they’d have time to is to turn on the black box.
In my eco-friendly Airbnb, I have a huge display of cactus on the top of a vintage second-hand cabinet and I promise you that’s the biggest conversation trigger when we are with guests sitting on the couch. The second most intensive traffic in ideas is the World travel guide, used to discuss our exciting trips, share experiences and knowledge. Thing is, you don’t make friends with TV.
The Welcome Letter to my Airbnb guests starts with the following:
“You may have noticed we do not have TV, but in such a sunny state we are sure you won’t miss it. We do not have television because we want to keep a positive aura and give peace to plants. Feel free to turn on the music as they will grow much faster. And we also have a wonderful Lonely Planet World guide just in case you find it difficult to stare the cactus for a long time.”
Have basic appliances available
For a more sustainable home it’s worth having a microwave, a toaster, a dishwasher, a washing machine and (of course, a fridge!). I am saying this because all of them are designed to make you save some energy – and time.
Having a toaster will avoid getting guests or yourself to turn on the oven. For example, in my house, I do not have a dishwasher, which for obvious reasons I miss dearly. Also, because a dishwasher saves plenty of litres in water. So what I do instead is to make sure I fill the sink of water while I am already washing the dishes, and reusing the water whenever possible. Another great tip sent recently by our friend
Olivia Gossett at Today We Will newsletter was “soak stubborn dishes before scrubbing” because “washing dishes with stuck-on food means extra running water. Soaked food comes off more easily and we will reduce water use by soaking those dishes first.”
Aside from having the basic appliances available, have them also functioning well. For example, you don’t want to have water leaking from the taps. As every drop matters, if water taps leak get them fixed; and in the meantime put a pot underneath to collect the water and repurpose it for the plants, for instance!
The best dryer is fresh air
When I said to have the basic appliances available, this does not include the dryer. Not just it’s expensive to buy, it also uses an excess amount of energy. The worse thing is that dryers are a huge contributor to microfibres. In fact, clothes and textiles are the #1 source of primary microplastic to the oceans, accounting for 34.8% of the global total.
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Today is #WORLDOCEANSDAY, and we want to talk about clothing #microfibrepollution ?? @ellenmacarthurfoundation report “A New Textiles Economy” cited the International Union for Conservation of Nature revealing that washing our clothing releases around half a million tonnes of microfibre plastic into the ocean on an annual basis. This figure is 16 times higher than the damage done by microfibres in cosmetic products. In the UK, our Environmental Audit Committee uncovered the damage done by microbeads in beauty products and successfully banned the sale of these in 2018. Now, we need our legislators to take action on the clothing problem, and for brands to seriously address the consequences of plastic clothing. This year’s World Oceans Day campaign is hooked on the message that #TogetherWeCan, so let’s use our voices to demand change. ??PLEASE SHARE! ?? Photo credit ? @fash_rev
Another eco-conscious way to think about it is that travellers who are spending 3 days on average on your Airbnb, they will either not use the washing machine at all. And for those who plan to stay longer, they will most likely do a unique full wash machine. The whole point is that we can avoid empty washing machines by not having a dryer, otherwise, your guests may get over-disorganised!
Encourage your guests to drink filtered water
Plastic water bottles should already be a thing of the past, or at the least only kept for when you are travelling to countries where filtered tap water is not an option.
Since you will be attracting eco-travellers to your place most of the time, they will surely appreciate the fact that you have a water filtering system at home. As we explain, investing in a water filtration system is an excellent way to minimize your carbon footprint and at the same time help the environment.
On the Welcome Letter I encourage guests to make use of what’s available:
“We do have a few appliances in the kitchen, such as microwaves, oven, stove, and a fridge with an empty shelf for you. We like our guests hydrated, so please use the Brita for filtered water. For everything else, feel free to check all cupboards as if you were at home.”
Household cleaning products
If you ask any person who is into sustainable living, they will tell you the amazing idea of creating your own cleaning products. If you have baking soda, a few essential oils and vinegar in your pantry then I would encourage you to DIY. Thing is you also need the time and probably a few more ingredients than I mentioned.
As an alternative, please consider purchasing from the eco-friendly range. Some amazing brands which should be easy to find in the shelves of the supermarkets such as Meliora, Earth Choice or Seventh Generation. Otherwise, pop to Biome store and explore their extense cleaning range.
Here I mention that we use eco-friendly cleaning products & why:
“All cleaning products are available for you, including the washing machine soap. Not that we want you to go crazy with it (who doesn’t like a bit of scrubbing!) but we’d be grateful if you can clean after yourself. Do not worry about your skin going grumpy, as all products are healthy for the people and the planet! This is also why we do not have a dryer; for such purpose please open the kitchen door and you will find a line to hang your clothes!”
Compostable bags for your bin, please
If you are not into composting yet and still want to do good with your rubbish, then please consider compostable bags. Compostable means it’s made of plant materials, which will break down into non-toxic components – and so leaves NO microplastics.
When compostable bags break down just like plants in a composting environment, which means it can be returned to the ground to grow more plants. In fact, compost is used as a soil improver and can in part also replace mineral fertilisers.
Is easy to find them in almost any supermarket shelf (and hopefully we will see plastic ones removed very soon), otherwise, here you can buy compostable bags online.
Quick video on why switching to compostable bags is important:
Have a compost and a recycling bin
Composting is one of the best things you can do to the planet! Like ourgoodFriend at @going.zero.waste says:
“I used to think that food scraps would break down in a landfill, but they don’t! Landfills aren’t aerated for the proper decomposition of organic matter, instead is stuck in this limbo state that releases methane. Methane is 30x more powerful than carbon AND 16% of all methane emissions in the US comes from landfills! Composting is one of the BEST things that you can do for the environment. A lot of people are hesitant because they don’t want stinky food to sit on their counter, and I get it I’m a clear counter person.”
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I used to think that food scraps would break down in a landfill, but they don't! . . Landfills aren't aerated for the proper decomposition of organic matter, instead is stuck in this limbo state that releases methane. . . Methane is 30x more powerful than carbon AND 16% of all methane emissions in the US comes from landfills! ? . . Composting is one of the BEST things that you can do for the environment. A lot of people are hesitant because they don't want stinky food to sit on their counter, and I get it I'm a clear counter person. . . ⠀⠀ I store my food scraps in a pie tin in the freezer and once it's full I take it out to my compost bin. ? . . Do you compost? What type of bin do you have? If you don't compost, what's holding you back? ⠀ #goingzerowaste #endfoodwaste ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #organicfood #wholefood #realfood #simplicity #zerowaste #eco #ecofriendly #compost #gogreenv#sustainable #sustainableliving #slowliving
In the case, you aren’t ready to compost, recycling bin will be the minimum for ANY household.
No straws, please
I am an incredibly big fan of reusable straws so I have a few brands: I always carry with me the
bamboo Yourstraw and the metallic Evereco straw stays at home for the guests. To be honest, it is not THE most important thing for your guests, but if you have them displayed for they use is another extra thing to notice in your eco-friendly Airbnb.
Have some mindful rules in place
It will make yours and the guest’s lives so much easier to have a good list of mindful rules. You can make them fun, you can make them extra eco-friendly and have that peace of mind while educating your precious guests to become a bit more eco-conscious.
My favourite of all rules is to encourage our guests to go to the beach whenever possible. We live literally 2-minutes walking distance away from paradise, and if they came thus far, popping quickly to the beach for a quick splash, walk on white sands while getting an Aussie tan is mandatory.
An invitation to enjoy nature:
“If you came thus far, going to the beach is mandatory. Walk 2-minutes and enjoy paradise. If you love sunrises, 6.15am be there sitting with a coffee in your pyjamas. If you go for a swim, make sure you do it between flags – currents are very strong!”
But of course, you cannot make all eco-friendly to be a rule, so write tips instead: a good example is to suggest them to catch the bus, which happens to be 2 minutes walking distance.
Suggest Ecosia when sharing the wifi logins
I am sure most people (Airbnb users or not) would love to know about the best search engine in the world Ecosia. Now on you can restore the rainforest from your fingertips. While it works as good as other search engines, for each search we plant a tree. There’s a counter that will remind you how many trees you have planted (individually) and also as a collective.
Show them Ecosia exists!
“If travel guides are not for you, we do have wifi! Did you think eco-friendly people don’t like to browse? The logins are: xyz and the password is xyz Bonus tip: consider using Ecosia.org as you will plant a tree every time you search (people worldwide have planted over 65 million trees!)”
Fill your cabinet with eco-friendly toilet paper
You probably have heard me before talking about Who Gives a Crap, and that is because it is the best toilet paper in the world. It’s a zero-waste option (no plastic), made out of recycled materials (instead of cutting fresh trees) is a social enterprise (50% goes to build toilets around the world) and does not contaminate the waters by avoiding producing with bleaching inks.
It gives you a funky touch of colour to your toilet and offers a reading option for those who enjoy the toilet time, as it comes with messages that will get your guests laughing. If you give them a pen, they can ever write love letters!
Same goes with the paper napkins, Who Gives a Crap has the most entertaining boxes with fun messages that you guests will appreciate.
This is the positive impact we have made together:
So yes! Imagine if each of us replaced the average toilet paper & paper tissue for Who Gives a Crap.
Bathroom with plastic-free soaps
As I like to provide the hand soap to my guests, as you can imagine I also make this an eco-conscious choice. My favourite soaps are the ones of Coconut Matter made out of Wild Virgin Coconut Oil, which is gorgeous for your skin! The brand is also an eco+social enterprise giving back to the communities in the Solomon Islands. Also, I love the fact that it packages the hand or body soap in a body scrub to cleanse your skin, making it totally zero-waste! Of course, I wouldn’t encourage you to share the body scrub with your guests, but if you want to level up your eco-friendly Airbnb, this could be your gift to them (I tell you this is a *5-stars review 100% guaranteed).
I also love to have other everyday plastic-free essentials such as a bamboo toothbrush. Course you are not planning to borrow this to your guests, but having it as a display will definitely get them noticing. Then is when you can tell them all the different brands available such as The Toothbrush Project (giving back to children in Cambodia), Mable or another range of really good dental care options at Biome store.
As an extra tip is that anything you have eco-friendly, make sure it is displayed – that will give you extra chances to open a conversation and exchange different ways to live more sustainably!
Don’t have a bin in the toilet
Did you know that 50% of the bathroom products are never recycled, just because there is no recycling bin in the toilet? As ridiculous as it sounds, it’s all about convenience and we are all guilty of it! To big non-sense problems quick solutions: no rubbish bag or bin in the toilet will have us all recycling wisely the bathroom products that come in plastic packaging.
Offer some breakfast
While this is something I haven’t had the chance to do myself, I am going to give you some ideas on how to make an eco-friendly Airbnb breakfast.
The reason why offering breakfast to your guests is that hospitality generates an incredible amount of waste. Food waste, non-recyclable coffee cups, takeaway horror. Of course, breakfast will not cover it all, but it does mean 1x meal = 1x impact.
In the case you decide to provide breakfast, here are some creative ways to make it a bit more eco-conscious:
- Offer fair-trade loose tea or coffee to prepare in a tea-drainer and a home coffee maker. The point here is to avoid tea bags (contain artificial materials, so non-recyclable) or coffee pods (also non-recyclable, unless you bring them to a take-back program).
- Offer organic honey and make sure it is RAW. Here’s why:
- Prepare homemade bread: it can be fun and definitely yum – you are not meant to cook it only for the guests! Ingredients are very cheap and you can also buy them in bulk.
- Vegan or grass-fed butter and alternatively olive oil (if you love it the Spanish way, also some garlic and fresh tomato to spread!)
- Homemade marmalade. This is ridiculously easy to prepare: take any ripe fruit, white or brown sugar and a few drops of water if needed (let it cook very slowly and store it in a reused glass jar). You need many guests to run out of homemade marmalade and it will make a huge difference in anyone’s breaky!
So here were some of the basics as well as the philosophy behind stocking your pantry while avoiding plastic or any type of packaging – whenever possible! Find the bulk store in your neighbourhood as you get creative by preparing food from scratch. Promise your foodie guests will appreciate it all!
Candles can also be ethically made
Whereas candles may seem aligned with a natural, green or eco-friendly way of living, their impact on the planet goes far beyond what we can imagine. So if you are planning to have the house decorated and bring some light and sparks, then go find eco-friendly candles! My favourites are the flavours in the candles’ brand MJ London because of its holistic aroma formulas.
It becomes a luxurious eco-touch that can communicate a message of integrity and fairness to other people and the environment. It’s another small thing that can inspire your guests to remind them that we can become more eco-conscious with our everyday products and make our special moments a bit more mindful.
Scenting the house with essential oils
No toxic sprays, please! If you love to have your home smelling good, then I would 100% encourage you to consider doTerra essential oils. They are incredibly healthy, eco-friendly and making a social impact. You can choose between a ton of flavours (some of them you can either ingest or apply on your skin) and also spread on each room using the right diffuser. Your house will smell gorgeous and make it truly welcoming to your guests AND yourself.
To wrap up, realise that all the tips shared are just a small contribution to guide you to make your home a more sustainable household or, in this case, eco-friendly Airbnb.
As much as I’d love to live in a treehouse, I’d also be my dream to have solar panels. While I like to talk about them and encourage everyone to install one at home, it definitely requires a larger investment and that is not-so-affordable or viable for those who move house and eventually cities every year. If you are staying in just one place for a while, then you will surely save money on electricity in the long-run.
I wish that I’d had a big backyard to grow my own veggies. All I have are some herbs and I am attempting with a cherry tomato plant, bok choy and corn. I make this for fun, to have my home full of plants and eventually to experience how real organic food tastes like.
I’d also love to have at least two bikes which I could borrow to my guests in case they want to go for a breezy ride. And some extra surfboards to encourage them to connect more to Mother Nature.
The takeback? Just do as much as you can, every little matters. Create that conversation piece with people who may have not realised how much we can positively impact the world by just changing our consumption habits. Ultimately, this can have a ripple effect with no logical end!
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Hope this helped fill your home with peace, love, mindfulness and loads of green! Mwah!
Do you any tips you’d like to share with us to make your house more green & eco? Comment below!