Why I’m getting ready for an Ecolabel holiday

By Blanca Morales, EU Ecolabel Coordinator

More and more of us a looking for ways to ensure our summer holidays are great green getaways. But if you’ve already picked your favourite natural park, packed your toxic-free sun cream, and booked your two-day train tickets, what more can you do to cut the impact of your vacation?

One option: book accommodation with the EU Ecolabel. Businesses certified with an EU Ecolabel stand out. Here’s why…


Consumer and environmental NGOs play a big role in determining the rules that all hotels and campsites have to follow if they want to use the label.

Rooted in EU law, the scheme has been around for 25 years and the rules for tourism businesses get tougher every few years. The most recent rules hike saw dozens of businesses lose their label licence, suggesting the scheme has real teeth. Businesses even have to pay for regular on-the-ground inspections to ensure they hit the mark.

Real rules

EU legal beagles can check out the latest set of rules, comprising 22 mandatory standards that target weak spots in the tourism industry, mainly water and energy consumption, waste and use of toxic chemicals.

They tackle a hoard of basic eco fails that many of us experience at hotels and campsites, from lights left on to leaky taps, TVs permanently on stand-by with no off switch, zero recycling options and air conditioning blasting away for no good reason.

Single use plastic is banned in all but one case and food waste is considered a crime, according to this summary.

Firms can optionally go the extra mile with extras like grey water harvesting and hyper-efficient lawn irrigation systems, zero use of pesticides and provision of local and seasonal or organic food, as well as electric bikes or charging points for e-cars.

The rules aren’t perfect and NGOs will keep up the pressure. But if you are looking for a place to stay in a hurry, the label represents a one-stop shop that is hard to beat.

Found everywhere

Find an EU Ecolabel hotel or campsite with this search tool from the European Commission. There are hundreds in Europe, mostly in holiday hotspots like Italy (162 hotels, 22 campsites), France (92 hotels, 23 campsites), Spain (51 hotels, 6 campsites), with 94 hotels and 28 campsites elsewhere.

Beyond tourism

There are 25 product groups certified for the EU Ecolabel, including cleaning products and services, cosmetics and paints. Standards cover raw material extraction, production, distribution and disposal. Producers are licensed by national authorities and are bound by contract.

The EU Ecolabel is a voluntary scheme that rewards products and services for having less negative impact on the environment. The EEB officially represents environmental NGOs at EU level in the EU Ecolabelling Scheme and receives funding from the European Commission to participate in the programme and promote its benefits to the public.