Limenaria, Thassos, Greece

Green Living at Home & Abroad: What Staying in an Eco-Hotel Taught Me*

Holidays are bad for the planet. Or so we're told. Jetting off on a vacation in the hope of sunning ourselves on a beach in Spain or Italy is no longer the total escape we've experienced in the past - boarding the plane is now tinged with no small amount of eco-guilt. With environmental awareness at its peak even in the mainstream media, the emissions caused by our holiday travels definitely prey on our minds. But what if you could still enjoy a sunny getaway whilst knowing that the planet isn't going to suffer? This was at the forefront of my thoughts when booking my summer holiday this year. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that recently I spent a week on the beautiful Greek island of Thassos in the northern Aegean Sea. I had a glorious time exploring everything that the island had to offer but what really made by time there amazing was that I stayed at the first green hotel on Thassos: The Menel Hotel. Today's post is dedicated to all of the sustainable measures taken at the hotel to save the planet and how I've been inspired to incorporate them into my home life too!

The Menel Hotel Treehouse Thassos, Greece

Sleeping on Nature

The Menel Hotel is also known as The Treehouse, which is reflected in its earthy decor. Bamboo decorates the exterior of the hotel and you can peep through the canes on your balcony to enjoy a view of the Aegean sea. The wood-dominated decor also continues inside, with the timber filled entrance hall and stripped back stone walls in the bedrooms really making you feel as if you're close to nature. This feeling continues with the eco-friendly beds and mattresses in all of the rooms. The Menel's beds were sourced from COCO-MAT, a brand which won this year's Greek Business Award for Environmentally-friendly Products. The coconut mattresses are made from organic coir, or coconut husk. To make the mattresses, the husk is sprayed with natural rubber and then shaped into layers, making it breathable and incredibly comfy to sleep on. Coconut coir is an amazingly sustainable product, ensuring that 100% of every coconut is used and nothing going to waste. COCO-MAT’s wooden bed frames are also sourced from responsibly managed forests that meet Forest Stewardship Council's standards, meaning that every part of our bed at the Menel was good for the planet. While I would've loved to take my COCO-MAT mattress home with me, sadly I just don't have the cash to invest in one right now. If you're on a budget, you can look for environmentally friendly bedroom alternatives in the form of organic cotton bedsheets which are far better for the planet (and for those harvesting the cotton!) than regular bed linen. 

The Menel Hotel Treehouse Thassos, Greece bedroom
The Menel Hotel Treehouse Thassos, Greece bathroom

Let there be (LED) Light!

Evenings at the Menel Hotel were brightened up by their LED lightbulbs. The hotel had a gorgeous roof terrace overlooking the ocean, complete with a jacuzzi bath, which was lovely to enjoy at dusk. It was a very romantic spot, made even more special by the mood lighting provided by the LEDs. Eco-friendly lightbulbs like this can often have the reputation as being dimmer than their conventional cousins but we didn't experience this issue with the LED lights in our room. I was able to stay up reading long after dark with no issues. LED bulbs are a simple but obvious energy saving choice - they are up to 80% more energy efficient than traditional lighting such as fluorescent and incandescent lights. In addition to this, LED lights can last up to six times longer than other types of bulb, reducing the need for frequent replacements. This helps the planet by ensuring that fewer resources are needed for manufacturing, packaging, and transportation. An all around win! Incorporating LED lights into your own home couldn't be simpler and there are so many resources out there to help you make the switch. You can check out INUI's LED Lighting Calculator to estimate just how much you could save at home (financially and environmentally) by changing to LED lights. Just enter a few simple details about your house and INUI will do all the hard work for you!

The Menel Hotel Treehouse Thassos, Greece

Keeping it Local

As you'd expect at any hotel, when we checked in to our room at the Menel we found our bathroom stocked with some miniature soaps, shampoos and shower gels - perfect for if you'd missed something essential whilst packing! These products were that little bit different to the norm, however, as they form part of the hotel's pledge to offer local products to their guests. The Menel's toiletries (as well as those used at the Swan Spa at their sister hotel just up the road) come from the Greek brand APIVITA, Greece's first ever natural cosmetics company, founded in 1979. Its name which reflects the philosophy of the brand, derives from the words Apis (bee) and Vita (life), meaning "the life of the bee". APIVITA produces natural and cruelty free beehive cosmetics, certified plant extracts and organic essential oils, making for a luxurious lathering experience whilst washing the sea salt out of your hair. Embracing local businesses in this way reduces the distance that your products have to travel before they reach you, meaning fewer greenhouse gases being emitted through transport. Sampling local products has other benefits too - it means you’re supporting local businesses and contributing to the economy in the area, as well as getting a more authentic feel for what it's like to really live in the place you're visiting. Enjoying real Greek products on my holiday has definitely inspired me to shop locally at home - I've already planned to visit to Leicester Market to snap up some fresh produce from local farmers!

The Menel Hotel Treehouse Thassos, Greece entrance hall
The Menel Hotel Treehouse Thassos, Greece

Think Before You Wash

Now I don't know about you, but I think that getting your hotel room serviced daily adds that little bit of extra luxury to any holiday. It's lovely to come back to your room after an afternoon lounging by the pool to find that everything has been put to rights while you've been gone. But if your bed sheets and towels are washed every single day, the environmental impact is huge. Doing laundry in one household alone can use a whopping 13,500 gallons of water a year, so you can imagine just how enormous the water usage could be for even a small 16-room hotel like the Menel. To reduce waste, even though we had our room spruced up most days by the hotel staff, we kept the same linen on our bed for the whole week and towels were only washed when necessary. This in no way detracted from the cleanliness of our room and no doubt made a massive difference to the sustainability of our stay. To continue this eco-friendly measure at home, I've decided to create a laundry chart. I'm absolutely hopeless at remembering when I last washed my towels and bedclothes, meaning that I probably wash them more frequently than I actually need to. But by creating a little chart on the back page of my diary and using it to record when I last changed my bed and towels, I'll be able to ensure that I'm not over-washing and using up more precious resources than necessary.

The Menel Hotel Treehouse Thassos, Greece bedroom

Have you ever stayed in an eco-hotel? What do you do to save the planet at work or at home? Let me know in the comments below!

*This post was written as part of a paid partnership with INUI.

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