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Green backpackers hostel provides eco-friendly accommodation for tourists

Travelling and going green are not usually associated with one other.

But Singapore’s first and only green backpackers’ hostel is giving travellers an option to go green, without sacrificing the creature comforts.

Located at Tan Quee Lan Street in Bugis, Tree In Lodge is Singapore’s first environmentally-friendly hostel.

It has received more than 2,500 guests since it opened more than a year ago in April 2011.

At first glance, Tree in Lodge seems to be an ordinary backpackers’ hostel but a closer look shows it’s a hostel with a green mission.

Tree In Lodge’s co-onwer Tan Swee Kian, said: “Rather than building a new building out of featuring a lot of green features, we use an old building, fit it in with some facilities for going green and build in practices to make it a habit. I think it’s more important because this goes back to the basics.”

An avid traveller himself, Mr Tan said he drew inspiration from cities in Europe, Japan and Taiwan that are known for their green lifestyles.

Providing filtered water for guests to fill up their own bottles as an alternative to buying bottled water and setting up stations for guests to give away or exchange unwanted items are among the many green practices they embraced in the hostel.

To reduce its carbon footprint, the hostel’s interior decoration is kept to a minimum.

Mr Tan said: “What you see around the hostel is more of green practices, and to share among our guests that it’s not difficult to go green or to have a green environment. It’s only whether you’re willing to change for that.”

Mr Tan said partitions in the hostel were built with eco-friendly materials.

But the owners are not limiting their green message to within their hostel.

They also recommend activities for tourists to get in touch with nature in Singapore.

This includes trips to areas such as MacRitchie Reservoir, Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve and the Botanic Gardens.

It costs S$28 to spend a night at the hostel but foreign cyclists stopping by Singapore get a 50 per cent discount for their eco-friendly mode of transport.

Travellers said the hostel is a breath of fresh air.

Mr Tan said the hostel even attracts several “hardcore environmentalists” among its guests.

Canadian travel writer Ian Ord said: “It’s really nice to find hostels that take on such a green initiative. I’ve been backpacking for quite a long time and there are not many places that try to educate their guests like this place does. To find people that are this passionate is really rewarding to the guests as well.”

Marco Eder, who comes from Germany, said: “When I checked in for starters, they gave me a quick rundown on bottled water, and preserving energy and water. There are a lot of signs and exhibits on what you can do to save energy and water, and what you can recycle. Just by walking around the hostel and seeing those little things raises your awareness.”

But the hostel’s owners said being eco-friendly is not without its challenges, with cost a major consideration.

“People will always think, ‘Oh, if you do less of this and less of that, it’ll probably cost you less money’. But it actually costs more because we have to use a lot of green feature items,” said Mr Tan.

However, the owners said there are no plans to give up any time soon and they are planning to introduce more eco-friendly features in the hostel, to drive home the green message.

Source : CNA – 2012 Jun 6