Ways to Earn Points and Miles While Saving the Earth

Sep 1, 2019

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It’s always a good idea to reduce our environmental impact when we’re traveling, but it’s a lovely bonus to be rewarded when we do.

Recently, Qantas started offering 10 Qantas points for every Australian dollar frequent flyers spend on reducing their carbon footprint. For points-watchers, that’s the highest standard earn rate of any Qantas frequent flyer initiative. Within the first month, members had been rewarded with over a million points for flying carbon-neutral, leading to a 15% rise in carbon offsets. I can only (and like to) imagine what could happen if other airlines followed suit.

Meanwhile back on the ground, we’re seeing more chances to earn points by giving up housekeeping in hotels.

Starwood hotels started this with their Make A Green Choice program that originally offered 500 SPG points or a $5 voucher for food and drink if a guest went without housekeeping. Following Starwood’s merger with Marriott, the program has continued, but when those 500 points became Marriott Bonvoy points they lost almost two-thirds of their value.

Also, the chance to earn points and the number you can claim, will change depending on which hotel and even what part of the world you are in. Some Marriott properties offer 500 points per day, with the option to give up housekeeping for up to three days in a row for a total of 1,500 points, but others, like Fairfield Inn and Courtyard, only give you 250 points per night.

Select IHG hotel brands, including the Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts and Holiday Inn, offer 500 IHG Rewards points per night if you opt out of housekeeping in Europe. But, if you stay with the same brands — as well as Intercontinental, Hotel Indigo, Even Hotels and Avid Hotels — you’ll only get 500 IHG Rewards Club points per stay if you’re in the US.

Other hotels dipping into the idea include Hyatt, which is testing out giving 250 World Of Hyatt points for skipping housekeeping in a selection of hotels, and AccorHotels, which has started rolling out 150 Le Club AccorHotels points in Germany and Austria. AccorHotels also runs regular Instagram competitions where guests can win between 2,000 and 3,000 points by highlighting a green or other Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative.

There is no official APAC-wide green program, but you can earn 500 Radisson Rewards points at Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney if you decline daily turndown and housekeeping service. The program began after a housekeeping staff member suggested it to management, who took the idea to the head office.

As much as I love coming back to a freshly made bed, I jump at these offers and not just because I never like to let a point slip away. It’s because this way I know that I really do have the same towels and sheets and that the hotel isn’t into greenwashing (as in, making misleading environmental claims and not washing my sheets in a legitimately green way).

Some housekeepers, however, are fighting the initiative. Protests by Marriott housekeepers in the United States have included putting leaflets under doors to tell guests that it can cost housekeepers’ jobs if they don’t have enough work and that rooms that haven’t been serviced in days are harder to clean.

Ideally, I’d like to see more of the in-between option that some hotels offer: The trash bins are still emptied and beds still made, so the room feels fresh but no electricity or water is used. In the meantime, I’ll be taking the points when they’re offered.

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