It’s no secret that we as a company do ‘our bit’ for the environment. Our trips are carefully planned to be responsible and to have a low impact on the environment and the culture our groups are visiting. Closer to home, our office has strict low energy and recycling policies. All of our purchasing decisions are made from a sustainability stance - from where teams buy food in country to buying Fair Trade coffee for the office. These are all quite easy ways to be more sustainable, but what's our biggest challenge? Avoiding plastic.
You have no doubt seen there has been lots of discussion about this in social media recently, including disturbing images of enormous plastic islands floating in our oceans and creative solutions to avoiding plastic useage. Did you know, it is predicted that there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050?
One of the biggest challenges we face in avoiding plastic is limiting the amount of single use plastic bottles used during our trips. Sound simple? You'd think so, but it isn't. We've found it surprisingly difficult to change people's behaviours and stop them either accepting or buying plastic bottles whilst travelling. We deliver travel safety training to all groups before they go and recommend they travel with a reusable water filtration system to purify their own water. We demo how to use some of the many options out there, like Water2Go. We even offer a 15% discount to our clients to make this a little easier.
But even if travellers take these with them, they aren't always used and a student actually returned home saying (in a rather 'teenager-ish' voice) ''Why did you make me buy one of these bottles?! There were plastic bottles of water everywhere!!''....
*cringe and sigh*
28,650 single use plastic bottles*
Are used on average by each adventure travel business in 1 year. Another average: each traveller uses 2 single use plastic water bottle each day. Okay, we did the math and realised if that were the case for one of our 17 day trips... 2 bottles x team of 25 = 850 bottles! So if all STC teams were to accept/buy single use plastic bottles when travelling, then STC Expeditions would use...
21,250 bottles in 1 year!
And that's just trips organised by us, a small, friendly team based in Devon. Imagine what the number is for the 'big guys' who send hundreds of thousands on holiday each year? Scary stuff.
Why should we avoid plastic?
For one, most countries we visit don't have effective (or any) recycling systems to dispose of these correctly, meaning bottles will inevitably end up in the beautiful landscapes, oceans or melted into the ground. Need more convincing?
Okay, game on, here's some plastic bottle quick facts for you...
- They're made from fossil fuels
- They have a huge carbon footprint
- They will still be here in hundreds of years
- Only a tiny percentage of all produced are ever recycled
- Some leach toxins into food & drink
- Many causes hormone disruption
- All pollutes our oceans
- All kills marine animals and birds
- They enter our food chain
So, what can YOU, personally do?
Here are 5 simple ways to use less plastic when you travel:
- Carry a reusable water bottle
- Carry a small reusable shopping bag
- Ask for no straw in your drink
- Carry real cutlery with you
- Refill travel size toiletries bottles
Take the pledge!
Travellers against plastic is a campaign aiming to educate global travellers about the harmful impacts of plastic water bottle usage. It encourages travellers to travel prepared to clean their own drinking water. The solution is easy - carry a reusable water bottle and come equiped to clean your own water, either through filtration, chemical treatment or UV, to avoid the waste of hundreds of millions of plastic bottles each year.
Take responsibility for your impact and CLICK HERE to sign the pledge today!
We've already signed as an operator so whilst you sign up, we'll keep working towards changing perspectives of those not yet enlightened!
*Adventure Travel Trade Association; Plastics Quick Poll March 2018