Ever wonder why people say that house sitting promotes green travel? We at HouseSit Match have long held a firm belief that by both house sitting for people in their home and by offering your home for house sitters you make a lighter footprint on the planet. Housesitters all over the world often look for ideas to help with green travel accommodations.
In this article a long-time environmental leader in California, Kelly Hayes-Raitt shares how house sitting reduces global warming and is good for the environment. Read on to learn more.
9 Powerful Ways House Sitting Promotes Green Travel
By Kelly Hayes-Raitt
I consider the impact my traveling has on the planet, and I believe house sitting is the best method of green travel or ecotourism. Absolutely, it is much better for the environment than staying in a hotel.
House sitting helps you travel green internationally and save money. How good is that!
When you think about it, hotels are one of the least planet-friendly industries. Even those that promote themselves as supporting “green travel” use and waste a lot of energy and water. Their very day-to-day model is notoriously consumptive; they simply can’t compete with a conscientious homeowner or house sitter. Consider:
Frequent – often daily – laundering of towels and bedding is incredibly wasteful of both water and energy. Each hotel room uses 100 to 400 gallons of water each day!
And every day, the hotel sector uses millions of gallons of water to wash towels that have been used only once. That constant laundering wears the towels and linen out faster, requiring more frequent replacements – that need water and energy for manufacturing and delivery.
But in the home where you will house sit, you’ll likely launder the linens and towels only once/week (I go 2 weeks if there’s not a lot of pet hair), saving a bundle on both water and energy compared to a hotel stay.
2. Tiny Toiletries
Those Lilliputian plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body lotion – while necessary for the liquid-limited flying traveler – are an incredible waste. Think about how much energy and water go into creating the plastic bottles, filling them, labeling them, transporting them.
Then consider the amount of water and energy required to dispose of them – even recycling them takes considerable water and energy.
Whereas, the pet owner you’ll be house sitting for will likely have their more eco-friendly large bottles of shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap and body lotion already on hand for you to use. Ask if they can provide this simple amenity to support green travel.
3. Ditto Paper Wraps
All those paper wraps around the toilet paper, toilet lid and water glasses that provide the perception of cleanliness need unnecessary water and energy to manufacture, transport and dispose of.
4. Daily Cleaning
Think of all the energy and water that goes into cleaning a hotel room daily. Multiply that by the energy and water that goes into the daily cleaning of all the common areas – the hallways, lobbies, business centers, etc. and you have a colossal contribution to climate change.
Most private homes where I’ve house sat are cleaned once per week, with perhaps more frequent vacuuming if there are shedding pets.
But I don’t wash the floors and scrub the bathrooms daily.
5. Staff conscious of green travel practices
When you consider the commuting by all the staff involved in running a hotel – the front desk staff, cleaning staff, kitchen staff, etc. – the amount of energy consumed is staggering. Add in the manufacturing, transporting, cleaning and maintaining of their uniforms and you have anything but green travel!
6. Food Waste
If global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest contributor to greenhouse gases, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
By house sitting, you are more likely to control your food purchases and minimize food waste than if you were staying in a hotel and ordering room service or availing yourself of the breakfast buffet.
Also, your homeowner may have created a compost heap for food waste, or the community might recycle food waste, providing you with further ways to promote green travel and protect the planet through sustainable living.
7. Spices, Condiments and Cleaning Supplies
A household is more likely to be stocked with spices, condiments and cleaning supplies. That means you don’t have to purchase these items that are usually missing from vacation rentals. And you don’t have to use the tiny, wasteful packages provided by hotels.
8. Electricity use
Many hotels these days have energy-saving key cards that turn off your room’s electricity when you are out. Great advance! But their hallways are lit, their lobbies are lit, their elevators consume energy. There’s simply no competition when it comes to the energy saved when staying in a private home.
Ever wonder if your hotel really recycles your room waste as diligently as you do at home? I’d prefer living in a home here I can recycle with confidence. It’s all part of a green travel considerations in sustainable lifestyle.
11 Tips to Support Green Travel While House Sitting
There are regular routines maintained in every home — including eco conscious green homes. You’ll want to ask the homeowners about their specific routines.
1. During your introductory video call when you and the homeowners are getting to know each other, ask about their routines for recycling, disposing of food waste, and conserving water and energy. Be sure you will be able to maintain these routines before accepting the sitting assignment.
2. Ask about how accessible grocery stores, etc. are by walking, biking or taking public transportation in order to minimize car trips.
3. Upon arrival, review the recycling rules and location of the bins. Different communities have different rules. In Berlin, for example, glass is separated by color!
4. Review garden watering requirements. Water early in the morning or late in the day to avoid excess evaporation, especially in hot countries.
5. Rinse and recycle pet food cans and sachets.
6. Be mindful of your food purchases in order to minimize food waste. Ask the homeowner about using perishable food they have left.
7. Run only full clothes washing loads. Air dry – which is a common practice in most places throughout the world – and avoid energy-draining clothes dryers.
8. Run the dishwasher only when full.
9. Turn off air conditioning, ceiling fans and space heaters when not in the room, unless they keep the pet comfortable.
10. Be mindful of your personal water use. Remember, your homeowner is paying the water and energy bills based on your usage.
11. Use eco-friendly cleaning products such as bicarbonate of soda to clean sinks and tubs. Use reusable cloths rather than disposable paper towels.
House sitting has proven to be more than a mindful hospitality and cultural exchange, but it is also a great way to support green travel and a sustainable planet!
Kelly Hayes-Raitt has spent the past 40 years raising money for and promoting environmental advocacy organizations. While she admits she’s not environmentally perfect (she does travel!), she does her best to limit her footprint by house sitting. She’s authored How to Become a Housesitter: Insider Tips from the Housesit Diva.
Join Housesitmatch.com a professional service that offers access to help you find free checked live in petsitters and housesitters, for a moderate annual fee. These petsitters will help you keep pets at home safely and happy in their daily routine and will help you to support green travel for yourself and your house sitters.
FURTHER READING ON GREEN TRAVEL, PET SITTER SERVICES AND HOUSE SITTING BENEFIT