The Guardian and Ethical Consumer celebrate Independent Hostels’ eco ethos.

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.

30 Years Green

Passionate about community and the environment

Independent Hostels have always held the belief that travel makes the world a better place. It helps people learn about the world we live in, opens up new possibilities, makes meaningful connections and supports local communities. With this in mind, we are also painfully aware that UK travel, although much greener than travelling abroad, has a detrimental environmental impact. Transport to a hostel and running a hostel that requires constant maintenance is carbon-intensive. Not to mention, swathes of tourists in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty can lead to the destruction of delicate ecosystems. This is catalysing a climate emergency that is becoming increasingly hard to ignore.

What we have achieved

This is why we are dedicated to being a transparent and ethical business that promotes holidays with low carbon footprints. Keeping the environment in mind influences all the decisions we make as a business:

  • Every year we research which type of paper is the most environmentally friendly to print our guides on by speaking with experts in the field.
  • Our website allows readers to search for eco-hostels and bunkhouses. These are hostels that go above and beyond promoting an eco-conscious lifestyle. Such as growing organic produce on-site and using renewable energy. This means potential customers can make an educated decision about the eco-credentials of the places they want to stay at.
  • We have blogs on our website that help tourists get the most out of their holidays without compromising the environment. An example of one of these blogs is How to be a Green Hosteller.
  • We have switched to a 100% renewable energy provider.
Independent Hostels members of staff participating in a litter pick in the local area

Recognition by Big Publications

We are committed to providing marketing for green hostel, bunkhouse and camping barn businesses and promoting low-carbon holidays because we know it is the right thing to do.  It is of course a big boost when big publications such as The Ethical Consumer and The Guardian recognise our efforts……..

Ethical Consumer

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 booking platform graded their best in country by ethical consumer

The Guardian

Shortly after, The Guardian sang our praises in an article which denounced the poor ethical and green efforts of big booking sites such as Airbnb and Tui and celebrated the travel firms that have put low-carbon travel at the forefront of their business. “Independent Hostels UK, which collates independently owned hostels across the UK into one online guide, were recommended alongside Canopy & Stars and Fairbnb as the sites that consumers should book with for ethical practices.”

We are chuffed to bits that our hard work is recognised

The Future is Green with Tourism Declares

Spurred on by the seal of approval bestowed by The Guardian, we are continuing to ensure we are a responsible business with an outspoken green ethos. That is why we have joined Tourism Declares. Tourism Declares is a coalition of tourism businesses, organisations and individuals that have declared a climate emergency and are taking purposeful action to reduce their carbon footprint and encourage their suppliers to do the same.

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 how we will reduce carbon as a business. Find our declaration on our climate emergency page and the full action plan at the bottom of the eco-hostels page.

What we have achieved so far

  • 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 690kg.
  • 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, 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.
  • 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 researching what type of paper is the most environmentally friendly for printing our books.  Our ideal material would be 80gsm recycled paper.

Get involved!

So why not join us on the road to a greener future? You can stay updated on how we are achieving our goals by reading our climate action plan page or by joining our mailing list where we send out (occasional and not annoying) newsletters that cover all things Independent Hostels!


If you are a hostel owner within our network, and this has inspired you to become a more eco-conscious business or shout about how green you already are, please email us at [email protected] with your eco credentials to be added to our eco-hostels page. If you are inspired to kickstart your eco-journey or track the eco progress you have already made, follow the link to find out how you can also sign up for  Tourism Declares. Our voices are louder together!


Very few holidays are completely carbon-neutral with zero environmental impact, though here at Independent Hostels, we are at the forefront of low-impact travel. Why not check out our eco-hostels page for some holiday eco-inspiration and learn exactly why hostels are the environmentally responsible choice?