‘Locally sourced' food bought at a nearby supermarket, claiming low-energy for using low-voltage lightbulbs and providing ‘recycleable' instead of ‘recycled' goods are some of the top green ‘fibs' told by accommodation providers. This is according to leading eco-certification organisation Green Tourism Business Scheme which inspects more than 1000 environmental policy documents annually as part of its ICRT*-endorsed accreditation programme. Managing director Andrea Nicholas warns that more than 50% of accommodation providers have environmental policies which are both misleading and too ‘woolly' to be convincing.
She explains, ‘Being seen to be green is undoubtedly a marketing advantage but the majority of environmental policies from accommodation providers contain avoidable inaccuracies. Typically this is based on a misunderstanding but it is not unheard of for one of our assessors to come across a property claiming adherence to a policy that is patently not in place.
‘There is a need generally for greater clarity within environmental statements because many are fluffy to the point of being meaningless. Commonly used are phrases such as ‘wherever possible' and ‘as much as we can', conveying notions of solemn green pledges that are absolutely not met. Such unsubstantiated posturing is unethical in itself. Plus there is common sense to be taken into account - ‘locally sourced' implies to the consumer a nearby producer rather than a convenient supermarket.
‘If environmental policies are to be credible a more rigorous approach is essential - poorly-considered platitudes are far too common'.
The Green Tourism Business Scheme is the only certification program in the UK endorsed by VisitEngland, VisitScotland and VisitWales and has been validated by the International Centre for Responsible Tourism since 2008. Operated by a not-for-profit organisation, Green Business, there are over 2,200 GTBS members through the UK and Ireland. Businesses are graded by qualified environmental assessors and can benefit from significant marketing advantage and reduced running costs of up to 20%. www.green-business.co.uk.