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For a Sustainable World

left better than it was found

Hostelling and Sustainable Tourism

The principles of sustainable tourism and HI Canada's not-for-profit status encourage us as an association to enhance the socio-cultural fabric of the community, minimize negative impacts on the natural environment, and harness our entrepreneurial spirit for the economic benefit of our Hostelling International network and the communities around us.

In embracing these principles, HI Canada commits to the:

  • Acceptance of sustainability as our responsibility, thereby strengthening HI Canada today and for future generations;
  • Measurement of our actions towards sustainability and sharing those results through our channels of communication;
  • Inclusion of socio-cultural, ecological and economic impacts when taking actions in the governance of HI Canada and the operations of its hostels.

We see the difference we make to the communities in which we operate by developing clear and measurable objectives in the following areas:

Socio-Cultural

We ensure that our activities complement and advance the communities in which we operate by responsibly promoting their unique social, cultural and heritage characteristics.

Economic

We ensure that HI Canada, its regional Associations and their hostels are economically viable into the future and engaging local economies in collaborative ways.

Ecological

We minimize our impact on climate change and ecosystems by understanding how our activities impact the natural environment, taking steps to intentionally reduce our impact and raising the ecological awareness of all.

Sustainability Projects
Environmental Statement

We love this planet a lot. We strive to treat it well by committing to a variety of earth-friendly habits and projects at our hostels. Through these efforts, we reduce our impact on our planet and enhance our impact in our communities. Here's just a few. 

Off-Grid Fridges at HI Rampart Creek

We're nothing if not resourceful. Two hostel managers in the Rockies got together and came up with a plan to convert recycled chest freezers into 'hybrid refrigerators' that harness the cold Canadian winter air to refrigerate food. In the summer, they're powered by solar panels. As a result, the hostel uses 1,400 fewer litres of propane per year.

Harnessing the sun at HI Athabasca Falls

In 2016, HI Athabasca Falls Wilderness Hostel officially went fully off the grid with the installation of 15 solar panels, bidding a cheerful "smell ya later" to their old diesel generator. The solar panels provide 100% of the hostel's electricity in the summer months and reduce the hostel's greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 88%.

Thar She Blows at HI Bonavista

In an effort to reduce their carbon footprint, and to harness some of those powerful Newfoundland winds, HI Bonavista installed their very own wind turbine. The 50-foot windmill kicks into gear with 12 km/h winds and can produce up to 400 kWh of clean electricity per month.

Protecting biodiversity at HI Vancouver Jericho Beach

HI Vancouver Jericho Beach is located in beautiful Jericho Park, which is home to a number of rare plant and animal species.  Hostellers can help protect biodiversity in the area by taking part in our Earth Easy Project.  Donations are given to the Jericho Stewardship Group to fund replanting and the building of bird and bat boxes in the park, and hostel guests can also volunteer to help remove invasive plants while also replanting natural plants.

Turning water into electricity at HI Yoho National Park

Thanks to support from the HI Sustainability Fund, HI Yoho National Park, Whiskey Jack Wilderness Hostel installed a micro-hydro electrical power generator in 2015, which brought electricity to this remote hostel for the first time ever. The generator uses flowing water from a nearby stream to power the hostel's lights, fridge and communications, while also giving guests a glimpse of renewable energy in action.

Hostelling and a natural respect for the natural environment go hand-in-hand and HI Canada is a leader of environmental responsibility in the Canadian hospitality and tourism industry. Our environmental statement includes but is not limited to the following points:

Preserving Canada's Natural Heritage

We will reduce, and make continual progress towards eliminating, the release of any substance that may cause environmental damage to the air, water, the earth or people.

Eco-efficiency in Facilities, Products and Services

We will strive to change our consumption patterns by choosing cost-effective products and suppliers which eliminate, minimize or mitigate adverse environmental impacts.

Sustainable Use of Natural Resources

We will make sustainable use of renewable natural resources, such as water, soils and forests. We will conserve non-renewable natural resources through efficient use and careful planning.

Reduction and Disposal of Wastes

We will reduce, and where possible eliminate, waste through source reduction, re-use and recycling. All waste will be handled and disposed of through safe and responsible methods.

Risk Reduction

We will strive to minimize the environmental, health and safety hazards to our staff and volunteers, and to the communities we serve, or in which we operate, through safe technologies, facilities and operating procedures, and by being prepared for emergencies.

Information and Education

We will encourage our hostel guests to support the Canadian Code of Ethics for Tourists. We will keep hostellers, members, the Canadian public, and the international community, informed in a timely manner, of HI-C's role in environmental stewardship.

Did You Know?

Massive herds of caribou used to roam Jasper National Park but their numbers are dwindling. HI Mt Edith Cavell closes each winter to help protect these fragile herds because human activity creates tracks in the snow, making it easier for wolves to hunt the caribou that live in this protected area.

Did You Know?

In Canada, a lot of our electricity is hydro-generated, straight from water: a renewable resource. But be extra vigilant in saving electricity in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia where the electrical grids are reliant on burning hydrocarbons.

Did You Know?

Staying at a hostel reduces your travel footprint. At many hotels, stuff like the electricity and water you use results in an estimated 50 kg of greenhouse gas emissions each night you stay. At a hostel, those emissions are more like 5 kg per night.