Eco-sustainability is a means of life. Although living sustainably is important at home, isn't it equally important, or even more so, to travel eco-friendly? A variety of hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, pubs and bars use their low environmental impact as a marketing strategy. Anything from sourcing local produce to energy efficiency is placed on websites to entice prospective eco-conscious customers.

Instead of just believing the advertise-talk used on company websites, there are ways that you can estimate a hotel's environmental impact by just checking a few factors. Here's the list:

Read the advertising materials

Although a lot of hype is going around, you should be able to distinguish between what's real and what's just advertising by reading through a hotel's website and other advertising material. Chances are, hotels that are really serious about the environment will go into it in a lot more details than those who only want to attract customers. Environmental policies are often published in the footer menu of websites. Even if a company does not post an official environmental policy, they will probably mention the steps they take to reduce their footprint in more details than just stating that they are operating environmentally friendly.

Keys or cards

Once you've checked into your chosen hotel, you'll receive the keys to your room and immediately you should be able to make a rather informed guess about the hotel's energy consumption. Good old metal keys? Everything in the hotel is still manually operated. If you receive a card to open your door, chances are that both the lights and air conditioning are activated by the card, and can be controlled centrally as well. The good news about this is that the lights and aircon only go on when you unlock the door and if you forget to switch if off when you leave, it won't be running until room service comes in. The result of magnetic and centrally controlled light and temperature systems are a huge saving on a hotel's total energy consumption.

Are the lights on?

On your way to your room, notice the lighting systems that are in place. LED globes are obviously the best environmental choice but compact fluorescent lamps are also very low in energy consumption. Hotels that are really serious about lowering their electricity consumption often have motion-activated sensors that switch some lights off when specific areas are not in use. Hallways can be lit up by LED footlights only whenever it's not in use, with the main lights going on only when someone enters the area.

Furniture and Bedding

Hotels that are serious about using sustainable materials for both furniture, bedding, and towels will often tell you that they took extra measures to take the environment into account. The information booklet left in your room will probably include brochures with details about the linen and furniture if this is an important factor for management. Another good indicator is the quality of decorating. The more money is spent on the interior, the higher the chances of it being eco-friendly. Although this is certainly not a definite indicator, it's often an indication of the reputation of the interior designer. Designers tend to follow trends and with all the hype about eco-sustainability goes a trend to follow.

A trip to the washing room

The bathroom in your hotel room is where you'll find indicators of eco-conscious water consumption. Of course, limiting electricity usage and water consumption may be two of the most important factors in reducing any building's energy footprint. Hotel bathroom should be equipped with aerators on all taps as well as dual flashing systems. These can significantly lower the overall water consumption of the complex.

Do you have a conscious? You have a responsibility too

Towels are a major job in hotel management. Each guest in the hotel leaves behind at least one dirty towel each day - washing it requires electricity, water, and chemicals. Most hotels leave a notice in the room to inform guests that towels will be changed daily but guests who stay more than a single night and choose too, can hang their towels to use the same one another day. This may seem like a simple request but it does have a major impact on the overall energy and water consumption of the hotel. Hang it up, it's worth it.

Whether a hotel advertises to be eco-friendly or not, simple measures are often taken to lower its environmental impact and knowing the key indicators can help you choose better options. Although some may think that sustainability means going back to living off the land and giving up modern luxuries, it can rather be described as a process of enjoying the luxuries of modern society while being consciously aware of resource consumption and making an effort to minimize negative impact to the environment as far as possible.

Traveling should be a pleasure and traveling with a clean conscious will only make it more enjoyable. Although some hotels use environmental policies as a marketing strategy, most hotels make a good effort at running a sustainable business while limiting their resource usage. Estimate your hotel's environmental impact by reviewing the steps they take to limit their resource usages such as water and electricity. Whether you are looking for Atlantic City hotels or accommodation in Las Vegas or anywhere else in the world does not matter - you'll be able to find excellent hotels that will let you rest assured that you are doing your bit for the environment both at home and on the road.