AirBnB Should Go Green: Tips for Hosts

AirBnB has become our latest entry point into the peer-to-peer sharing economy. We have enjoyed meeting travelers from near and far and learning about all the reasons why people come to Seattle. Last week, we had a chef from NYC who apparently did all his cooking for a catering gig in our funny 1955 2nd kitchen. I’m still eating his yummy leftovers! We also had an aspiring teen fashion model from Wenatchee who came in for a photo shoot. And lots of families booked for the summer while they visit relatives nearby.

laundry 5 floors up

laundry at an AirBnB where we stayed in Spain

I do like AirBnB quite a lot, but I have one suggestion for them. Make some kind of “green badge” or green certification that can be earned by both hosts and travelers alike. Here are some suggested criteria that would help everyone strive towards zero waste and less environmental impact:

Green Moves for AirBnB Hosts:

  • provide cloth napkins & other paper towel replacements
  • provide travel coffee mugs and water bottles
  • provide filtered water & info about tap water so that travelers don’t buy the bottled stuff
  • eat or give away food that guests leave behind
  • use refillable liquid soap containers for hand washing, shower gel, shampoo, etc.
  • use washable towels & rags for cleaning with natural cleaning solutions
  • teach guests how to separate waste into compost, recycling & garbage
  • provide on-site composting for fruit & veggie scraps
  • provide racks or clotheslines for drying towels, sheets & guests’ laundry
  • provide recycled toilet paper such as Seventh Generation
  • encourage public transit use with info about trains from the airport, local transit stops, etc. We provide info about the Transit Go Ticket app and Orca cards for the local buses upon request.
  • use programmable thermostats & localized heating/cooling for each guest room
  • explore green heating options such as heat pumps & pellet stoves
  • all that other good green building stuff like insulation, natural lighting, solar panels, etc.

Hopefully our guests will make use of all those reusables, they’ll conserve water and create little trash, and they’ll turn off the lights when they leave a room. Staying with a green host can mean getting a taste of a greener lifestyle during their stay. Happy trails, everyone!


  1. L

    Hi Julia, What do you think about hot tubs? I am an airbnb host and cater to millennials and couples. Guests on vacation seem to want a heated pool or hot tub. Would you consider my property green if I had either of these two? It’s hard even for hotels to exclude them from their properties.

  2. Hi Lydia! That’s a tough one — I know they are popular, but they also use a lot of energy. You could always pursue a green power program through your local electric utility to see if you can at least pay a small up-charge to ensure that you’re supporting renewable energy equal to the amount your rental property uses. Another trick is to offer something like that but not heat it up beforehand. If they really want to use it, they can heat it up, but most guests may well forego it if it’s not super convenient. I’ve never owned a hot tub, so I’m not sure how feasible that is, but it’s just an idea. I recently stayed at an AirBnB campsite that had a sauna…but it wasn’t hot and ready to go. It was nice to know it was there in case the weekend ended up being totally rainy and miserably cold, but it wasn’t, so we didn’t bother using the sauna. The act of turning on the heat and thinking about how much energy was being used to heat it was a deterrent!

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