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From on-site wildlife reserves to upcycled furniture, sustainability means a lot more to YHA than just solar panels and rainwater tanks. Hey, our organisation is so green we’ve even got a tree in our logo!
The philosophy of hostelling has had sustainability at its core ever since it was founded by German schoolteacher Richard Schirrmann more than a century ago. After leading his classes on countryside hikes to escape the smoggy confines of their industrial home town, Schirrmann formed the first youth hostels in rural farms and schools sprinkled across good walking terrain.
YHA came to Australia in 1939, and eight decades on, our organisation is sensitive to the eco-concerns of today. YHA has had an official Environmental Policy in place for more than 15 years, which aims to make our properties more sustainable. At a time when Mother Nature needs a hand more than ever, our properties strive to be as environmentally friendly as ever – from big things like renewable energy and recycled water to small projects like chicken farms and herb gardens.
And don’t just take our word for it. In 2017, YHA Australia was recognised for the Best Green Accommodation Initiative at the Global Youth Travel Awards at the World Youth and Student Travel Conference in Montreal, Canada. The prestigious award acknowledges the huge range of sustainability initiatives that YHA undertakes.
Rainwater tanks, solar panels, low-energy lightbulbs/LEDs, water-saving bathroom devices, key-card activated lighting and air-conditioning, natural ventilation and shade louvres… you can hardly walk down the corridor in one of YHA’s properties without bumping into a sustainability initiative.
All the waste from the Grampians’ kitchen is composted then fed to the on-site free-range chicken farm. Brisbane City flushes its loos with an 80,000L rainwater tank. Port Elliot has its very own veggie garden. A sophisticated solar system (pictured) helps power Perth City. Railway Square has recently installed furniture recycled out of timber posts and a ‘green wall’ made of old railway luggage racks, echoing the history of the building.
Sydney Harbour YHA – home of The Big Dig Archaeology Education Centre that tailors curriculum-based programs to primary and secondary students – is one of YHA’s sustainability superstars. Located above an archaeological dig site in the heart of Sydney’s historic Rocks precinct, Sydney Harbour YHA has received award after award for its $1 million worth of sustainability features since opening in 2009, right down to recycled rubber flooring and pin boards made of PET plastic, the nasty stuff disposable plastic bottles are made of.
And our sustainability efforts don’t end with the environment. YHA Australia is committed to a number of social sustainability initiatives, from charitable endeavours like raising funds for disability support groups to supporting community programs like the Brisbane Broncos NRL club’s Indigenous employment pathway (pictured).
Simply choosing to stay at a YHA property on your next overnight school excursion is kinder on the environment than booking your average accommodation. Firstly, our properties contain all the eco-friendly features outlined above, like the environmentally-friendly Grampians Eco YHA (pictured). And then there’s the benefit of sharing facilities – students could stay in separate rooms with separate lights, air-conditioners and bathrooms… or they could bunk in a comfortable multi-share room with YHA and share all those facilities, collectively lightening the load on the water and electricity bills. Plus, when you book directly with YHA, you’re putting more money back into a not-for-profit organisation with sustainability woven into its fabric.
Even your group lunches are gentler on the planet thanks to YHA’s ban on bottled water. The gas-guzzling process of producing, packaging, transporting and refrigerating bottled water means it has a carbon footprint 300 times greater than the clean, free water Australians are lucky to have plumbed into our buildings – not to mention the 1000 years it takes for PET products to break down in landfill – so YHA has banned those disposable water bottles from vending machines and group lunches. We’ve also installed chilled water bubblers in our properties, so your students can bring their own refillable bottle and fill them up at no cost to them or to the environment. Refillable bottles are also available to purchase in our properties.
Click here to learn more about YHA Australia’s sustainability efforts.
It’s easy being green when you stay with YHA – our hostels are packed full of energy-efficient and water-saving features like solar panels, rainwater tanks and recycling facilities.