Independent Hostels Declares a Climate Emergency

Independent Hostels was founded in 1993 by Sam Dalley who realised that independent hostels across the UK lacked a unified voice that larger, YHA hostels had. As many independent hostels are in isolated places, she wanted to create a platform where hostels could feel part of a wider community. Independent Hostels provide a space where holidaymakers, families, groups, schools, travellers, and outdoor enthusiasts can find affordable accommodation in incredible locations.

Independent Hostels have seen many changes over the last 30 years, such as moving from print to digital and embracing social media. Always with the belief that travel makes the world a better place. It helps people learn about the world we live in, open up new possibilities, make meaningful connections and support local communities.

With this in mind, we are also painfully aware that UK travel, although much better than travelling abroad, has a hugely detrimental impact on the environment. Transport to a hostel and running a hostel that requires constant maintenance is carbon-intensive. Not to mention, swathes of tourists in Areas of Natural Beauty can lead to the destruction of delicate ecosystems. This is catalysing a climate emergency that is becoming increasingly hard to ignore.

Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency

That is why we have decided to follow in the footsteps of other companies within our industry and publicly declare a climate emergency by becoming a signatory to Tourism Declares. We will also be encouraging the 360+ hostels within our network to do the same. Our voices are louder together!

We know we can’t solve all of UK tourism’s problems. Solving the climate emergency would take a huge U-turn from the government, billionaire corporations being held accountable for their actions and big changes in people’s day-to-day lives. In the meantime, Independent Hostels can do their part to reduce waste and carbon emissions, speak about our action plan publicly and encourage others to do the same.

Independent Hostels UK has been awarded Gold by the Green Tourism Business. We are committed to reducing the environmental impact of our activities and continually improving our environmental performance. We have over 360 hostels in our network, and we encourage our hostels to do the same on our Eco Message Board.

Ethical Consumer Endorses Independent Hostels

In 2022, The Ethical Consumer ranked holiday booking companies from most to least ethical. Independent Hostels scored third place out of twenty-nine brands. This is what The Ethical Consumer had to say about us:

“Only three companies on our table, Independent Hostels, Fairbnb and Canopy & Stars, all small companies offering environmental alternatives, scored our best rating for carbon management. All were tackling their own operational impacts and working with their accommodation providers to reduce their emissions too.” 

Independent Hostels Climate Action Plan

Independent Hostels recognises the importance of running a business with special consideration to our impact on the earth and our carbon footprint. That is why we have joined Tourism Declares. Together, alongside other businesses in the tourism industry, we are pledging to declare a climate emergency and we have created a unique action plan for the ways in which we will reduce carbon as a business.

Our Declaration:

  1. We declare our shared commitment to unite all stakeholders in transforming tourism to deliver effective climate action.
  2. We support the global commitment to halve emissions by 2030 and reach Net Zero as soon as possible before 2050.
  3. We will consistently align our actions with the latest scientific recommendations, so as to ensure our approach remains consistent with a rise of no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

As a signatory, we commit to:

  1. Deliver a climate action plan.
  2. Report publicly both progress against interim and long-term targets, as well as the actions being taken, at least annually.
  3. Align our plan with five shared pathways (measure, decarbonise, regenerate, collaborate, finance) to ensure climate action is consistent across all of tourism.
  4. Share information on activities connected to Tourism Declares and/or the Glasgow Declaration among contacts and networks.
  5. Work in a collaborative and constructive spirit with other members of Tourism Declares and/or signatories of the Glasgow Declaration.

Our Climate Action Plan

Celebrating what we have already achieved (day to day)

  • Our office is based in a building owned by the local community and staffed by volunteers.  Our rent contributes to the community and our staff volunteer at events.
  • Wherever possible, we walk to work or use public transport.  Only 10% of our staff commutes are by car.
  • We reuse 95% of the cardboard packaging we receive.
  • All paper used in our office is purchased as recycled paper and then used on both sides.
  • We conduct continual research into what type of paper is most sustainable for printing our annual guidebooks.
  • We remove all our waste from our office, separate it for recycling and deposit it at the appropriate locations.
  • We send email Newsletters to our readers (potential guests) promoting the benefits of sustainable travel.
  • We advocated Tourism Declares and Green Tourism to the hostels in our network (our members). Thus encouraging more businesses to get involved with taking steps towards a greener future and accelerating carbon awareness.
  • Our “Items Wanted and Available” message board is used by our members for up-cycling of hostel equipment.

Celebrating what we have already achieved (one-off)

  • We are part of the Green Tourism Business Scheme and have achieved the GOLD award.
  • We have completed a carbon literacy course. This educated and inspired us as a business to continue with our carbon journey.
  • We encourage our members to run their businesses in an eco-conscious manner.  Such as growing produce on-site and using renewable energy.  We also educate our readers (potential guests) and give them the information they need to choose greener accommodation and methods of transport.
  • Our website allows readers to search for eco hostels and bunkhouses and provides discounts for those using car-free methods of transport. We have encouraged accommodation in our network to introduce a green discount and now they are available at 13 hostels. This incentivises guests to travel responsibly.
  • There are symbols for green awards and ethos on the relevent hostel features in our guidebook and on our website.
  • Our website blog helps tourists get the most out of their holidays without compromising the environment. An example of one of these blogs is How to be a Good Green Hosteller.
  • In 2023 we reduced our paper usage by 29%, by changing the design of our book.  This also reduced the bulk of the items we transport from 1190 kg to 690 kg.
  • In 2023 we conducted research into what type of paper is the most environmentally friendly for printing our books.  We used FSC (100% from responsible forests) controlled paper, as recycled paper was not available of the weight required to create our new slimline books.   This decision was made following the priorities Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
  • In 2023 we purchased Carbon Offsetting from the Woodland Trust for the paper used in our publication.
  • In 2023 our business car use amounted to 5480 miles, equivalent to 2 tons of carbon.  We have offset this with a donation to the Woodland Trust.

What we will strive to do (day to day).

  • Independent Hostels is encouraging the community that owns our office building to heat the building using the thermal waters which flow beneath it.
  • Independent Hostels is encouraging the community that owns our office building to better insulate the building and provide secondary glazing.
  • Independent Hostels consults Ethical Consumer before making new purchases.

What we will strive to do (one-off).

  • Between April 2022 and April 2023, the business conducted travel with a total mileage of 5480 miles.  (This excludes staff commutes).  We will strive to reduce this between April 2023 and April 2024.
  • At the end of the year, we will carbon offset any travel we have done. We will use The Woodland Trust to offset our carbon as this business is UK based.
  • We pledge to purchase space on carbon-efficient servers (powered by renewable electricity sources) next time we make the transition to new servers.
  • We will continue to conduct research into what type of paper is the most environmentally friendly for printing our books.  Our ideal material would be 80gsm recycled paper.