Earth Day this year focused on plastics and how they are affecting the environment. With so much plastic use in our daily routine, we don’t even realize how much damage we are doing, or how much of a difference we can make if we decide to switch to more environment-friendly options. Plastic usage is a big deal because our planet is riddled with so much waste, plastic is the most harmful.
You’re probably wondering why you should care enough to change your life for it. Well, here are a few facts to motivate you:
Humans across the earth use 2 million plastic bags per minute. And each bag can take up to 500 years to decompose.
Disrupting marine life and reducing the health of the oceans is one of the biggest factors to rapid global warming.
100,000 marine mammals and 1 million seabirds are killed every year thanks to our plastic pollution. It’s not just that animals can choke and die from the items that end up in the sea, but microplastics that we can’t even see end up in our oceans too, are absorbed by the marine life, which is then eaten by us. The problem is so severe that babies born today are already pre-polluted because of what we take in.
Research shows that if we continue on with our use of plastics, the fish in the oceans will be outweighed by pollution by 2050.
Yikes! Cutting back on our waste and being mindful of what we use and how we use it really only saves us and our planet. It might be easier to have that mindset at home, but it becomes much harder when you’re traveling and just want to relax. This is why we came up with ways on how to reduce plastic pollution and waste while traveling. They are not difficult, but definitely help towards reducing your carbon footprint:
Single-use plastics are some of the worst offenders, and water bottles are amongst them. Instead of using the bottle from the airline, or buying one when you need everywhere you go, carry your own. It’s the simplest way to start. Think about all the bottles that you would have thrown away and how just this simple step makes that much of a difference. If you are someone who needs to have coffee to go, invest in a coffee cup that you can take with you, or simply say no to the lid on their takeaway cup.
Again in the single-use category, plastic disposables are responsible for a major portion of plastic waste. Regarding plastic straws alone, the hospitality industry throws away 96,000 of them in just 8 months. Let’s face it; you don’t need a straw to drink, so skip it. If you do, there are reusable stainless steel or bamboo straws available. You can also get your own set of cutlery to use on the flight or anywhere else disposables might be used, and make sure your takeaway doesn’t have them thrown in either.
Airplane headphones are cheap and flimsy, and if you don’t have your own, taking them out of their (plastic) packaging means they will just get tossed away once you’ve used it.
The tiny bottles might be cute, but will only last your one trip before they are thrown out. Invest in reusable bottles that you can refill with your own shampoo, shower gel and conditioner and a durable pack to put them all in.
Considering how many plastic bags end up in the dump and the hundreds of years they will each take to decompose, this seems like a no-brainer. There are some really cute, fun tote bags or reusable bags that you can carry with you when you decide to go shopping. Simply fold them up small and stuff them in your pocket or backpack so that you don’t have to carry an empty bag around.
This might seem like a strange point but planning can reduce a lot of the last minute impulse buys that you could have avoided. Plan your bag size and make sure your water bottle fits in it. Plan your route if you are going out for the day so that you know whether to take your utensils with you or if you can come back for them before lunch – because they are of no help sitting in your hotel room! Plan your carry-on for the flight and make sure your headphones are easily accessible. If they are hard to get to, chances are you will just use the ones the airline gives you. You’re not being conscious and going through the effort to ditch it at the last minute.
This is just one of the tips on how to avoid plastic while traveling. There is so much that we can reduce on if we just said no. Refuse all plastic bags at the store when you carry your own tote bag; say no to the extra disposables the restaurant throw in with your takeaway; you don’t need a lid or a plastic stirrer with your coffee. We think refusing might offend people, but it’s all in our head.
If people give you a quizzical look, just say, “I’m trying to cut back on plastics.” No need to get all preachy or self-righteous on them. Say it with a smile and they can take it or leave it. It might even spark some interesting conversation!
Hotels are also becoming more conscious of their carbon footprint and are moving to reduce it, removing as much single-use plastics and disposables where they can. Hilton aims to halve its environmental footprint and double its social impact by 2030 and is making massive changes in all its hotels across the Middle East, Europe, and Africa.
Millennium Hotels and Resorts in Singapore, Marriot hotels (as well as the luxury boutique hotel chain, Edition, it co-owns), a luxury hotel opening up in Abu Dhabi and several environmental-conscious hotels in the UK are moving forward towards becoming greener in their approach to hospitality. Staying at these hotels in the future will make it much easier if you’re looking for zero-waste travel tips.
A lot of people don’t think that anything they do will make much of.