Airbnb Needs a 'Green' Filter to Help Travelers Find Eco-Friendly Accommodations

A campaign to update Airbnb's search filter has resonated with many travelers.

Plaine Products shower model

Plaine Products

Booking a stay on Airbnb involves navigating a lengthy list of optional amenities, or filters, to ensure you get exactly what you want. But what if the thing you want isn't on that list? Then you start a campaign asking Airbnb to add it, which is precisely what Lindsey McCoy has done. 

McCoy would like Airbnb to add a "green" filter to its internal search engine. This would allow travelers to find accommodations that adhere to a higher standard of sustainability than the average place and would recognize eco-minded hosts' efforts to shrink their own carbon footprints. 

A public letter to Airbnb, written by McCoy and posted online for others to sign in support, outlines what such efforts might look like:

"A Green Filter would allow hosts to promote and users to find properties with eco-friendly features such as: powered by clean energy, using toxin-free cleaning products, reducing single-use plastic via reusable personal care products, cleaning products, and kitchen storage options, carbon neutrality, providing recycling and composting options, green linens and towels, or including Energy Star Appliances, among others."

McCoy is the CEO of Plaine Products, a zero-waste hair and skincare company that sells shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and more in refillable stainless steel containers. (See related article on Treehugger.) She was motivated to launch this campaign, both as a frequent Airbnb user herself and as a business owner who works with hosts that are trying to reduce single-use plastic.

She tells Treehugger,

"In a recent email exchange, one [host] mentioned that her husband was concerned about spending more on sustainable products when Airbnb made it hard to recoup those investments. It got me thinking about how I would like to be able to support more sustainable hosts when I use Airbnb, and that a Green Filter addition to the Airbnb search engine could go a long way towards raising awareness of sustainable steps people can take in their own home. As a certified B Corporation, we love the idea of using business for good."

She emailed Airbnb but knew she'd need broader support. "They wouldn’t listen to one person and [so I] told them I intended to post an open letter and come back to them with thousands of signatures to show support for the idea," she says.

So far she's managed to get nearly 1,000 signatures from 30 countries, which shows she's not the only one who thinks this is a good idea. "As Airbnb is an international company, we’re trying hard to get the message out beyond the United States," she explains.

It's not a stretch to imagine Airbnb adding such a filter. More travelers are seeking out sustainable options everywhere they go. The campaign website states that 45% of travelers wish online booking sites offered sustainable or eco-friendly filter options. Seventy percent would be more likely to book accommodation if they knew it was eco-friendly, but only 50% say there's enough choice when it comes to places to stay and 38% are not even sure where to look.

"Airbnb set the industry standard early in the COVID Crisis with cleaning protocols," McCoy wrote in her initial letter to the company. "We think that Airbnb has another opportunity to set the green standard that will meet the growing demand for more sustainable travel options." 

If you think a green filter is a good idea, you can add your signature to the letter here.