Sustainability and eco-friendly travel are not always at the top of everyone’s holiday to-do lists. But you don’t need to sacrifice home comforts in favour of travelling responsibly. Here’s how you can do your bit…

Hostelling is a great way to get out there and explore Scotland guilt-free. Our youth hostels are located near to bus and train routes (except, of course, our eco-hostels Glen Affric and Loch Ossian where you’ll have to arrive on foot) and we encourage our guests to use public transport where ever they can - travelinescotland.com is great for planning your journey between youth hostels.

Loch Ossian Youth Hostel

Loch Ossian Youth Hostel

By choosing to stay in certified green accommodation, you know that the business is working to reduce its impact on the environment. As part of our commitment to sustainability, our youth hostels are assessed by Green Tourism, the largest and most established sustainable certification in the world. The assessment covers areas such as energy saving, waste minimisation, social responsibility and travel. Currently, 97% of our green graded youth hostels have been awarded either silver or gold.

When staying at a youth hostel, look out for dedicated green tourism noticeboards packed full of information on public transport, car sharing, sustainable food choices and green activities for guests such as talks by local countryside rangers and local arts and music events. Many also have a nature spotter’s board and diary to note sightings of local wildlife so that guests have a better idea of what to look for when out and about.

Nature Spotter’s Diary and Board

Green Fingers

Areas outside youth hostels can have a big impact on the surrounding environment and wildlife. For this reason, we try to make as positive an impact as possible with wildflowers areas, wood piles that create a rich habitat for garden insects, and space for line drying laundry. Over on the Isle of Arran, Lochranza Youth Hostel’s garden is a haven for wildlife such as red squirrels and deer along with nesting boxes for bats and even a bee ‘drinking station’.

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel

Many of our youth hostels have their own ‘bug hostels’. Creating the right habitats in our gardens means that we can increase the presence of useful insects such as bees and millipedes that help with the garden’s natural recycling system and ladybirds who feast on aphids.

Aviemore Bug Hostel

Bug Hostel in Aviemore

It’s easy to make your own simple ‘bug hostel’. Just cut two cylinders from a large plastic bottle, wrap twine around the middle so that it can be hung from a tree or fence and fill with sticks, twigs, pine cones and bark.

Food for Thought

Nothing tastes better than home grown produce; however sometimes it’s not possible to have a full vegetable patch. Fish crates, salvaged from beach cleans, make great planters for herbs, strawberries, lettuce and vegetables and are perfect for small gardens or gardens with unsuitable soil.

Waste Not, Want Not

Reducing waste and recycling plays a big part in the youth hostels’ green strategy, with general waste and recycling bins in many kitchens and bedrooms, food waste composted and book and clothes-swap initiatives. At Ullapool Youth Hostel the guests are encouraged to help feed the birds all year round by adding suitable scraps to a ‘bird bowl’ where they are then made into fat balls or put out on the bird tables.

Getting Involved

There are lots of ways you can get involved during your hostelling adventure, from helping with waste management to choosing car-free activities or joining in with one of our beach cleans at Ullapool or Torridon Youth Hostels. Check out mcsuk.org/beachwatch for more information.

Torridon Beach Clean

Torridon Youth Hostel Beach Clean

For an even greener getaway, our two eco-hostels, Glen Affric and Loch Ossian use wind and solar or locally sourced hydro power, grey water and dry toilet systems and even bat friendly paint.

Biography for SYHA Hostelling Scotland

Scotland's best known network of youth hostels in stunning city & rural locations. Go on a #SYHAdventure! As a not-for-profit organisation, we encourage guests to join SYHA Hostelling Scotland. Members enjoy a range of exclusive benefits including dual membership of Hostelling International, providing access to more than 4,000 youth hostels in over 90 countries worldwide. Membership and guest overnight income supports our charitable youth programmes and the maintenance of the hostelling network, particularly in rural Scotland.

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