What Shade of ‘Green’ is your Home Swap?  By

What Shade of ‘Green’ is your Home Swap?

Every day, we are constantly being reminded of how precious the world truly is. We are prompted to be more conservative with our use of resources, to reduce what we send to the landfill and to recycle. To do our part, we make an effort in our day-to-day lives to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible. So when we go on a holiday, ask yourself, should our conscience go on a holiday as well? And of course, the answer is no!

The fact that you are considering home swapping is evidence that you are already being environmentally conscious in planning your getaway. You’re joining the sustainable travel movement and seeking an alternative to the large international hotels that have been slow to adopt green solutions that truly benefit the environment. (The hotel industry is notorious for only embracing a change if their profits are positively impacted!) Home swapping also is a greener alternative to a stay at an all-inclusive resort with their typical offerings of all you can consume and use! The number of beach towels that are tossed in the laundry bin each day is mind-boggling!

So congratulations, with choosing home swapping, you are already being green! Let’s take a few steps further! The following outlines great ideas for both the host and guest to follow to remain green with home swapping.

Ideas for the Host:

As a homeowner, you likely have already taken measures to conserve energy and resources such as repairing leaky faucets, buying Energy Star appliances and replacing traditional light bulbs with compact fluorescent lighting. But there are several practices you as a host can put in place for your guests to follow. As a whole, guests tend to be very agreeable with following such practices and in fact are troubled when a home does not meet their standards of green living!

Such green initiatives for you as a host to implement are:

– Outline the green initiatives you have developed in your home and encourage your guests to comply with your practices. Send this outline to your guests electronically (and avoid having a print copy).

– Provide an outline of the recycling program that you have in place in your home.

– Provide an information sheet, usually prepared by your local government, on what is to be placed in the recycle bins. Different cities have different recycling programs and as an example, currently a universal program does not exist for plastics (as there does for metal cans).

– Send the list of general house rules and reminders to your guests electronically and avoid printing the instructions.

– Encourage your guests to use appliances such as the clothes washer and dishwasher when they are full and avoid running the machines with half loads.

– Provide natural cleaning supplies that are made with bio-based oils and other organic ingredients. This includes dish soap and laundry detergent.

– Provide paper products such as napkins, paper towels and toilet paper that are made with recycled materials. Or better yet, provide cloth napkins instead of paper napkins and cloth cleaning towels instead of paper towels.

– Install sensors for lights outside your home or in your hallways that only illuminate when they detect movement. This is ideal for the lighting of areas such as entrance doors and driveways!

– Set up a compost area outside for organic waste.

Ideas for the Guest:

– Upon arrival, read the host’s green initiatives that are in place for the home you will be occupying.

– Run the clothes washer and dishwasher only with a full load.

– Follow the ‘shower smart’ guidelines (turning the water stream off while washing your hair and lathering your body) which significantly reduce the amount of water used. The same can be done while brushing your teeth.

–  Similar to a stay at a hotel (and at your own home!) place towels on a towel bar to dry for your next shower. Avoid putting aside used towels each day for laundering.

– Limit your energy usage in the home when you leave for a day of sight-seeing. Turn off lights and any appliances. Lower blinds or close the window coverings to keep out the sun which will lessen the use of the air conditioner. Similarly, lower the thermostat for the heat when you leave for the day if the home will be unoccupied.

– At the end of your stay, thank your host for the green initiatives they had in place. Be sure to note your host’s efforts to protect the environment when you write a review of your stay!

With a host developing their green initiatives and with a guest following the procedures, a green stay can be assured and the environment will be protected! In this case, your guilt can take a holiday, not your conscience!

by Sandra Pearson

Pearson is the author of  Home Exchanging: Your Guide to Enjoying Free Vacation Accommodations. Expert advice on how to monetize your home to pay for your vacation stays! Read our review of her book. Visit her website.