By Justin Francis
'Eco' and 'eco-lodges' have become buzzwords used by both terrific organisations dedicated to conservation and benefitting local people, and those seeking to exploit its marketing potential for economic gain with little or no regard for destinations.
Without getting into the intracies of composting toilets how can the tourist decide between the genuine and the not so genuine?
Greenwashing or genuine eco-lodge? 10 ways to tell the difference: Ask the lodge owner if they have a written policy regarding the environment and local people. If its not written down ('yeah, yeah we do all that stuff') then it probably means they're are not taking it seriously.
Ask them to describe the single contribution to conservation or local people that they are most proud of.
Ask them how they measure their contribution to conservation and local communities.
Ask the lodge owner how many local people they employ, what % this is of the total, and whether any are in management positions.
Ask them what they have specifically done to help protect the environment and support conservation, and which local charities they work with.
Ask them what % of produce and services are sourced from within 25km of the lodge.
Ask them how they treat waste water (coral and other wildlife is being destroyed by Caribbean hotels pumping effluent out to sea), and how they heat their building (solar is better than firewood, which can cause deforestation)
Ask them what information and advice is provided to tourists on local cultures and customs.
Ask them if they employ guides from the local community (local guides not only provide unmatched insights into local cultures, but are also aware of areas/behaviour that might cause offence among local people.
Ask them for ideas on how you might get involved with local people and conservation in a worthwhile and rewarding way for you and the destination.
Interested in eco lodges? Check out our eco lodge accommodation.