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As responsible tourism becomes more widespread every day, many travellers are seeking out sustainable options before they begin their journey, including finding out which establishments and products are environmentally friendly. But how do you choose a hotel that is truly responsible?

With this objective in mind, we have spent recent decades creating an environmental label that helps to facilitate finding the sustainable choice.  With Responsible Hotels, we invite you to witness the origin of this process.

The first environmental commitment originated from the Artic cold. Our neighbours in Northern Europe were the first to introduce ecological awareness to the political arena. In 1989, the Nordic Council of Ministers approved the ‘Nordic Eco-lable’, better known as the ‘Swan’ label. This was the precedent that led to the creation of the European Union flower eco-label in 1992, which was known for the offering of green products and accommodations.

Nearly 25 years later, the Swan label marks a before and after in respect to our environment, especially considering the strictness of the label’s qualifications.

To be awarded the ‘Nordic Eco-label’, one must first perform an environmental study and assess whether it is possible to positively improve the product or service’s impact on nature. The criteria are reviewed every three years to keep it updated.

This label promotes the sustainability of products and services by evaluating all phases of the life cycle: from raw materials, to day-to-day use and waste management.

The Pioneers

One of the pioneering hotel chains to receive the Nordic Swan label was ‘Scandic’, with 70 hotels located by Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway, which was recognized for its environmental policy. In the hotel’s rooms, synthetic plastics are replaced with wood, cotton and wool. Bath products are biodegradable and even the hotel’s breakfast foods come from farming.

The ‘Nordic Ecolabel’ and its sister “European Eco-label”, with its flower symbol, are focused on reducing any adverse effects on the environment by comparing products and services of the same industry, thereby contributing to an efficient use of resources and a high level of environmental protection. The goal is to provide consumers with objective information so they can evaluate the impact of a particular establishment.

The Nordic countries have also now been renamed the “green countries” for their great care for the local ecology. The swan, which is one of the significant animals of this ecosystem, was chosen to represent their environmental awareness – awareness that has now spread to the rest of Europe. Responsible tourists wanting to visit this area may recognize the symbol that characterizes sustainable accommodation: the swan that looks after the environment.


 El blog de Responsible Hotels sobre la gestión ética y responsables de establecimientos hoteleros. Nos preocupa el medio ambiente y la biodiversidad. Nos encantan los viajes, investigar sobre sostenibilidad y los fines de semana largos. Leer más de este autor


Este artículo está también disponible en: Spanish

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