That’s the Last Straw for the Travel Industry

July 02, 2018


In the folly of our youth, we would greedily eyeball our friend’s food at the lunch table and ask, “Are you gonna eat that?” Now, in our wiser and more sustainably-conscious years, we skeptically eyeball our friend’s eating utensils and ask, “Are you gonna eat WITH that?”

Disposable plastic utensils are a major source of pollution. The U.S. alone goes through 500 million of plastic straws in a single day, and the UK disposes of an additional 8.5 billion each year, prompting a new country-wide ban. The ban is set to cause waves in the travel industry, which has contributed more than its fair share to the plastic waste problem.

Public enemy number one

It’s easy for travel businesses to dispose of single-use plastic products once their guests have departed, but eco-minded members of the industry are following the currents of change and setting their sails for sustainability. Compostable paper straws are still in fashion, and some businesses are even offering trendy metal straws that can be reused.

Others are implementing bans of their own. Cruise ships owned by Royal Caribbean and Carnival are taking a hard stance by limiting their use of plastic straws or prohibiting them entirely, along with other single-use utensils. The commitment to reducing disposable plastics isn’t just a mandate coming from above; it’s a common practice that’s part of every crew.

In fact, back in 1996, Royal Caribbean became the first cruise line to create an environmental officer position. While they don’t get to wear a fancy hat like the captain, the officer’s job is no less esteemed — they’re responsible for the day-to-day activities that keep their ship’s environmental impact low.  Following suit, most major cruise lines now have an environmental officer in charge of reducing the number of recyclable materials that may end up in the ocean on every ship.

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… sustainability!

We’ve seen some airlines get thrifty with their use of recycled plastics, but the overall problem of single-use materials is still considerable. For example, when you pour your inflight soda into the complimentary plastic cup, you’re contributing to the 1 million disposable cups used on airlines every six hours in the U.S. alone. Taking into consideration all the packets of peanuts and tiny plastic alcohol bottles, too, that’s a pretty hefty carbon footprint.

Thankfully, airlines are soaring into a more eco-friendly future. Ireland’s Ryanair recently announced their “Always Getting Better” plan, wherein they aim to entirely eliminate nonrecyclable plastics by 2023. That means you’ll soon be sipping from biodegradable cups and cutting into your questionable airline food with a wooden knife. Cheers to the future of sustainability — with an eco-friendly cup, of course!

Whether by land or air or sea, Ernest has what it takes to help you with your sustainability goals. 2017 was a big year for companies going green; check out the various ways the packaging industry is taking a stand on reducing, reusing and recycling.