Back in January, I wrote an open letter to Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, and to David Cush, the CEO of the Virgin America airline, asking them to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated by their planes.
A few days later, Richard Branson wrote back!
Now, after working together with Virgin America and the Plastic Pollution Coalition for the past few months, I can report that the airline has taken its first steps in helping to reduce plastic waste in the air.
Virgin America asked the Plastic Pollution Coalition to create an educational video for its passengers with helpful tips for reducing their plastic footprint while flying.… Read the rest
01/29/2013 Update: Richard Branson responds to my letter on his blog today: Plastic On Our Airlines.
Dear Richard Branson & David Cush,
This letter serves two purposes. First, to express my sincere gratitude for all you have done to make Virgin America the only airline I can fly without crying the whole time, and second, to ask you to address the issue of plastics on your flights. First, the good stuff.
I’m a nervous flyer. On takeoff, I’ve been known to cut off the circulation in my partner’s hand from gripping it so tightly. And years ago, I had flight attendants offering me free alcohol even before the plane took off (and even though I was sitting in coach) just to calm me down. But nowadays, after a little hypnotherapy and the advent of Virgin America, I actually enjoy flying. Which is fortunate, because after the release of my book last year, I’ve found myself sitting on planes probably more often than … Read the rest
Every time I stay in a hotel (and nowadays, with all the travel I’m doing to promote my book, I’m getting to visit more and more of them), I inevitably roll my eyes at the preponderance of single-sized, plastic-packaged amenities: little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and single-sized soaps. Sure, many guests love them and stuff them in their luggage to take home, but does that justify their wasteful existence? I’ve blogged many times before about saying no to single sizes, which have a higher ratio of plastic packaging to product than larger sizes, and now an Albuquerque luxury hotel is promoting the same message by providing a better alternative: bulk amenities.
Not Like At the Gym
But let me back up a bit because offering personal care products to guests is not a new idea. The showers at my gym have dispensers for body wash/shampoo afixed to the wall, as do all of the hostels I have stayed in during my travels. … Read the rest
So, two weeks ago, I was out of town staying in a hotel with friends and looking forward to a much deserved vacation, when I started to feel the tell-tale signs of a cold coming on. My face hurt, my head throbbed, and by the second day, I had a sore throat. I’ve written before about plastic-free traveling as well as plastic-free cold remedies, but I wasn’t prepared for the eventuality of both happening at the same time. Crap. What was I going to do? My neti pot was at home. So were most of my cloth handkerchiefs. And I had no idea how to get soup or cough remedies without plastic in this unfamiliar place.
At first, I tried to manage the symptoms without plastic. I drank a lot of water (due mostly to my friend’s helpful nagging.) I found a glass jar of honey and some lemons at the local grocery store. And I found Woodford Reserve bourbon–which comes with a wood/cork stopper instead of a plastic cap or BPA-lined screw cap–at… Read the rest
As I mentioned on Monday, I’m out of town this week. But I don’t give my plastic-free habits a break just because I’m not at home. I have developed strategies over the years to avoid accumulating new plastic even while living out of a suitcase. Here are a few things I brought along with me on this trip to help:
1) Travel Mug
Water bottles are great, but for me, a travel mug is eminently versatile. At the airport, I carry it through security empty and then fill up at a water fountain on the other side. I did hear that TSA has been screening insulated mugs a little more heavily lately, but so far I’ve had no problems bringing mine through.
It’s fine to bring water on the plane if you get it from within the secure area of the airport. And a mug is great for not only water but coffee, tea, or other beverages. I always use my mug on the plane instead of a plastic cup.
2) Reusable utensils
I carry a little set of reusable utensils in my purse or … Read the rest
A guest post by Alexandra Grabbe.
My husband and I have been green innkeepers on Cape Cod since 2004. The name of our B&B is Chez Sven, and our blog is Chezsven Blog: Wellfleet Today.
Over the years, we have learned to target green guests, who care about the environment, turn out lights when they leave a room, and recycle plastics, cardboard, and glass.
Unfortunately, not everyone who visits has this mindset. We have had a number of eco-conscious guests born in the USA, but the majority come from abroad: England, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, The Netherlands. I am always fascinated to hear about a country’s recycling policies and expectations for eco-travel.
I think Beth would like living in Germany, where the municipality makes recycling easy. There are bins on street corners in major cities. They have it down to a science, according to German guests, who never fail to separate out paper, cardboard, and plastic before leaving their rooms… Read the rest
Do you flip through the SkyMall Catalog when you fly? Isn’t it great? In addition to adding greenhouse gases directly to the atmosphere from the flight itself, we can also shop our way to global warming. (And yes, I feel guilty every time I get on an airplane.)
Here are a few of the SkyMall gems I spotted during my recent trip…
A plastic cat litter box in the shape of a plant pot, complete with plastic plant:
This isn’t just tacky, it’s not even functional. First of all, if you turn it to the wall to hide it from guests (as in the inset), how is your cat supposed to use it? And can you imagine sticking your head in there to clean it out? Who would let their cat track litter through the living room? The sad thing is that people might buy it thinking it’s a cute idea and then trash it when they discover it’s not. Just more plastic in the landfill.
Here’s a fake plastic Sumo Wrestler statue for your yard:
And if having the statue… Read the rest
While traveling, I bring my stainless steel travel mug or water bottle with me for everything from water to soda to coffee. On the cross country trip with my dad, I ended up with some plastic, but none of it was plastic bottles or cups. In 7-Elevens and mini marts across the country, I brought my reusable mug and asked if I could fill it up with coffee or water or soda. Not one person refused. And sometimes, if they were available, I’d fill up from free water fountains.
At the airport, you can bring your mug or water bottle through security empty and fill it at the water fountain on the other side. I make this suggestion regularly when asked about staying hydrated on planes. But lately, I’ve been getting questions about whether or not water fountains are safe to drink from.
Elizabeth Royte, author of the excellent book, Bottlemania, which I highly recommend, wants to know what you think on the issue. On the web site, Adventures in Climate… Read the rest
Dad and I set out on Thursday from Oakland, CA and headed east. I’m trying my best to avoid plastic while traveling, but some things seem unavoidable and others are just accidental.
First of all, we need to carry a cooler for snacks and drinks. Dad likes to have lots of soda. And we are bringing our own snacks (bananas, nuts, bread, etc.) to avoid buying a lot of junk food on the road, although we are not completely avoiding it. In fact, ice cream makes frequent appearances in our itinerary. So anyway, we’re using a plastic foam cooler that I already had, and we bought a bag of ice in a plastic bag to fill it. In the future, we’ll refill the ice from motel ice machines to avoid additional plastic bags.
We also bought.. wait… wait… oh my god…
Okay, now let me clarify. We bought two 2-1/2 gallon jugs of water to keep in the car in case we break down in the desert. We don’t plan to open it except in an emergency.… Read the rest
Hi everybody. Writing this post sucks. But then, so do a lot of things in life.
I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be leaving tomorrow for a 2-week trip and may not blog much while I’m gone. As many of you know, my parents have lived part-time in Hawaii for several years, and I’ve written about visiting them (and the plastic in Hawaii) more than once.
01/21/2008: Plastic in Paradise
01/23/2008: Some Things About Hawaii That Have Little To Do With Plastic
01/16/2009: Cutting Waste While Traveling: It’s Not So Hard
01/19/2009: Aloha! Plastic Tally from Hawaii and Visiting Sea Turtle Beach
08/18/2009: Visiting a Plastic Paradise
Tomorrow, I leave to visit my parents’ condo in Waikiki for the very last time. My dad’s there now, selling all their furniture on Craigslist and cleaning up. I’m going to help him finish. My mom is with my sister in Maryland. And my sister is just trying to hold … Read the rest