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Environmental Impact of Airbnb - What do hosts do about it?

Hi,

I am a third year tourism student and for my bachelor thesis I am researching the environmental impacts of tourism. As Airbnb is a raising phenomenon in the tourism industry, and it seems to have a lower impact on the environment in comparison to more traditional accommodation providers, I want to get a deeper insight into this.

My survey is about whether Airbnb sets any environmental standards and what other measures hosts take to lower the negative environmental impact of their guests (in terms of water use, energy use, waste and carbon footprint).

If you have a few minutes to spare, I would appreciate your help.

The link to my survey: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScDm9fe-7SHjpG_11voHo2MrSWPYrd1_QiGmflxCTPDqeZ00w/viewform?usp=sf_link

Best Regards,

Maaike

  1. No airbnb doesn’t

  2. will depend on the host. guests are asked to take the same steps I do.

Thank you for your reply.

Then, may I ask if you are taking any extra steps to lower the environmental impacts of your guests? Or is that not a concern you are taking into account when sharing your home?

I think that perhaps you need to research a bit more? Many hosts here don’t share their home; their rentals are separate apartments or suites.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that I read something recently that said that the majority of Airbnb rentals are not home-sharing. It’s how Airbnb started out, but home-sharing seems to be the minority these days.

AirBnB is one of many booking systems.

I rent an apt in the basement of my home and there are a few things that I do to try to decrease our environmental impact even though I think it’s less convenient for myself and guests.

  1. I won’t buy a Keurig single pod coffee maker even though guests love this sorta thing and it would simplify our clean-out process (cleaning the grinder and coffee maker is a bit of a hassle). But I cannot stomach the waste of those pods in landfills. It’s bad enough that I use disposable diapers on my kids.

  2. I don’t stock the fridge with plastic bottles of water but I provide a Brita water filter pitcher and refillable containers.

  3. I supply a few towels per person and I don’t offer a fresh change of linens everyday. Even with longish stays, I only provide a new set of sheets and towels every 5-7 days which limits laundry and water usage.

I think you’re right that renting out of a home might reduce environmental impact in comparison with hotels – this would be esp true for those who just rent out rooms in a home since resources are being shared for the most part (home is already being heated or cooled, etc.)

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Well, I guess it is up to the Government to set those standards, so they are the same for everyone - that’s why they are called standards.

If Airbnb, or any other company, were to set environmental standards, I would like to call this marketing.

Having said this, I am aware of the fact that Airbnb might provide lowish cost housing, which, in combination with budget airlines, might increase travel among those otherwise not able to afford it, and thus have a negative impact on the environment. But again, it would be up to the Government to do something about this, by raising airfare taxes - which I strongly support, by the way.

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Not extra steps no. Just for them to use the same ones I do.

Yes, I know many share a rooms or an apartments, home is of figurative speech to all these in my description, sorry for the confusion

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Yes, I agree with you. Than you for such a specific reply, I appreciate it.

Thats an interesting view. However, calling this marketing instead of standard setting, I still believe if Airbnb started doing something in this direction, it could result in lower negative environmental impacts. Of course, probably not as significant as your suggestion of increasing airfare taxes, but when it comes to the environment, every little step counts.

Getting a governmental change may be more difficult than adding an aspect to the marketing of a company.

@Maaike_197, remember, Airbnb is a business, and their first, foremost and primary concern is making as much money as possible. As such, where is the incentive or motivation for them to impose environmental standards on hosts?

If they insist, or offer incentives to hosts who either cannot or will not be more environmentally friendly, their going to end up with fewer hosts. Fewer hosts will mean less choices for their customers. Less choice leads to fewer bookings, and you can see the direction this is heading.

On top of that, how on earth are they going to know that I have the various energy saving things I claim I do in my listing?

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Well, if you didn’t have what you claim you have, a few reviews by guests would soon make this clear. I am not a big fan of Airbnb reviews, but in this case, they do serve a valid purpose. Hosts simply cannot hope to get away with claiming something which isn’t true.

Many of the things listed in the OP’s survey would be difficult for guests to verify. For instance, guests aren’t allowed in our basement, which is where one would find our energy saving water heater. There are over 60 light bulbs in our house, many of which, I’d be quite disturbed about if I found guests trying to see if they are all energy saving. I’m pretty sure all my appliances are energy efficient, but I tore all the yellow tags stating as much off when we bought them. And guests would have no way of knowing if I buy electricity from renewable sources such as wind unless they ask to see my utility bills.

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A Family I know owns a Best Western.

I know that when the Hotel was built there was a thick manual supplied that they had to comply with to ensure the Building was built to specification, I think they also have an annual audit. Not sure if that includes an Environmental rating, but it could.

I Suppose AirBnb could do the same.

You are right that many environmental aspects of a home are difficult to verify. However, isn’t Airbnb based on trust?

Moreover, I’m sure they would be able to find a way to somehow regulate this. A simple example could be an annual audit, as brought up by @Como , which could for example be made by guests who could in return receive some kind of a reward.

Also, making Airbnb strictly environmentally sustainable is not the aim here, rather I would like to point out the possibilities of Airbnb and suggest a voluntary participation in a more environmentally aware practice. This would not reduce the number of hosts, rather it would expand the possibilities of guests to chose consciously when for example choosing between two similar listings.

An Environmental Audit would need to be carried out by someone suitably qualified, unlikely such a person would also be a guest.

With the number of listings on AirBnb we are talking of many thousands of inspectors.

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I would be interested in any environmental tips which hosts have discovered.
I hate the over-use of plastic bags but I was being criticised in reviews for not having bin liners. So I added this sentence to my House Manual: “The bin in the kitchen has a hard liner inside it but if you need to use plastic bags there are some under the sink”.
The result has been great: way less plastic bags are being used, instead guests empty the bin and wash it out, and last week in a review a guest praised the fact that I discourage plastic bags. Made me happy :slight_smile:

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This site has some ideas:

I recently updated house rules about not placing anything in the outside bins/trash cans. Guests invariably put stuff in the wrong ones and don’t recycle. Yesterday I had a guest putting a brand new pair of shoes into the landfill bin because “they were too small”. wtf? Someone else could use them, for crying out loud! Personally, I am ok with sorting through guests’ rubbish to make sure things are recycled properly but I expect other hosts aren’t or don’t have the time to do it.

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Back in May I reviewed an Airbnb in Memphis for my Youtube channel. From that experience I learned a lesson from the host on how to present my Keurig with an assortment of different coffee, teas, hot cider, and etc. because I only offered K cup coffee out of a box. I posted what I had learned and shared a picture of my new assortment on a K cup holder. Well I caught holy hell from dozens of these group members! I was accused of destroying the earth and heavens. I was muted, banned, and blocked. So I uploaded a video about “My Evil Airbnb Keurig” experience on my Youtube channel. And within minutes I was banned and blocked by even more groups. LOL. I never realized there was such hatred for this machine I love. When I wake up in the morning in a hotel room, resort, and etc. I am too sleepy to figure out how to make the perfect cup of coffee with a strange machine. I assume my guests are the same way their first morning in my Airbnb. I think I am still right to offer it, because to this day after years of hosting no one has complained.

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