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There’s a big lie about plastic — that you can throw it away. But that’s not true; there is no “away.”

Plastic bottles, plastic bags, snack wrappers, foam takeout containers, foam coffee cups, packing materials: these common, everyday items make up 85% of our waste stream. These items aren’t biodegradable and our ability to recycle them is limited.

 

This societal reliance on throw-away plastic is strangling our environment — particularly our waterways.

More than eight million tons of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans each year, where it kills animals and fouls waterways and beaches. This isn’t the work of careless litterbugs at the beach. Over 80% of ocean plastic comes from land-based sources. Even if you live inland and take care to properly dispose of your trash, there is a good chance some of your plastic waste has found its way to the sea.

 

Consider the American Great Lakes, where 80% of the litter along the shorelines is plastic. That trash doesn’t stay put — it flows through the canals and river systems through the St. Lawrence Seaway and into the Atlantic Ocean. A takeout container that blows off a Chicago landfill can wind up off the coast of Africa.

From there, the damage gets far worse. Once in the ocean, plastic eventually breaks into micro-particles that cause toxins to enter the food chain.

A single discarded piece of plastic breaks down into millions — and these bits are mistaken for food and ingested by even the smallest organisms on the oceanic food chain. Contaminated zooplankton feed on phytoplankton, which are fed on by small fish, who are fed on by squid — and so it goes on up to our dinner plates.

 

Read the full article here.

 

By Julie Anderson from Los Angeles Time

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CC BY-NC 2.0 Clive Derra

 

UK supermarket giant Tesco is not exactly popular with the deeper green environmentalist crowd. In fact, when they planned on opening one of their Tesco Express convenience stores in my hometown of Bristol, it literally resulted in riots.

But while there’s legitimate concern around the oversized power that Tesco wields to transform our high streets, it’s hard to deny that the company has also made some substantial and important commitments to sustainability. Whether it’s tackling food waste, deploying electric vans for deliveries or housing employees on the roofs of its stores, many of its initiatives reach beyond the ubiquitous promotion of reusable bags or selling organic produce.

Now Business Green reports that the company is making a firm, long-term commitment to the fight against climate change. Specifically, that commitment includes a promise to slash its own operational greenhouse emissions 60% by 2025, and by 100% by 2050. It has also promised to run on 100% renewable energy by 2030. In the process, it became the first UK supermarket to have its climate change plans approved by the Science Based Targets (SBT) initiative.

 

Read the full article here.

By Sami Grover from The Treehugger

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Credit: Shutterstock

Did you know?

Our planet cannot digest plastic

Plastic makes up about 90% of ocean pollution in the world

In China, 3 billion single-use plastic bags are used every day

The average plastic bag is only used for less than 15 minutes

 

The problem with plastic is that it’s inexpensive and therefore disposable. And when it’s so disposable, there is a lot of it, and a lot of litter, creating unsightly cities, and clogged and polluted waters.

 

We, the tourism industry, are dependent on clean oceans, pristine beaches, and ecological diversity. Local communities are dependent on fresh water and clean cities. It is time to take leadership and proactively reduce the use of plastic in the travel industry.

 

Here are some ways we can tackle plastic pollution in the tourism industry:

 

  1. Charge for it:

It can be difficult to change the legislation on plastic bans, but it isn’t impossible. Charging the customer an additional fee can be an incentive to reduce the demand for plastic products. Read more one the example of Ireland, who was able to reduce the plastic bag consumption by approximately 98 per cent within a week in 2007 by increasing the price for plastic bags.

 

  1. Replace your plastic products

 

  • Use only reusable glasses, mugs, and water bottles at conferences instead of plastic bottles
  • Simply do not allow plastic straws at your hotel or venue, or replace with biodegradable, paper, or bamboo straws
  • Replace single use toiletries with large pump bottles that can be refilled; replace plastic toothbrushes for giveaways with wooden ones
  • Initiate green meeting policies: check out this example

 

  1. Educate stakeholders, staff and travellers

Because everyone uses plastic, it is important to engage with every person involved in the business to educate them about the negative impacts of plastic use and how to make a positive, plastic-free change.

 

What to tell stakeholders:

Reducing plastic means reducing costs! Unnecessary material usage can be avoided, saving a lot of money in production and in waste management. Uptake of environmental management methods may attract new customers or partners who are seeking more environmental friendly businesses. Read more about the benefits of an environmental friendly business.

 

What to tell staff:

Employees play a very important role in doing the right thing with your business. It is important to understand that waste separation and the time and labour involved can not only be costly for the employer, but also very mundane for the worker. It is by no means a glamourous task, so actively reducing plastic means less work in the end. Often, particularly in an office environment, out of sight is out of mind. Once a person puts a piece of plastic is in the trash, they will never see it again. Help staff understand plastic’s lifecycle, and that reducing plastic can make an enormous impact on our planet and communities. Read more on how to engage employees in CSR.

 

What to tell my guests:

Empower your staff to teach guests about your company’s sustainability policy, as it relates to plastic. Explain why you are not using plastic straws or bags, and actively tell your story! Read more on communicating sustainability to guests.

 

Plastic is a global problem, but one that is being tackled all over the world. See how some African countries governments even banned the use of plastic, and consider how we can learn from this example. It is important to move proactive and be the change you wish to see in the Asia Pacific region.

 

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Since this year’s Earth Day falls on a weekend, PATA decided to celebrate a little early. For this year’s Earth Day, our Green Team invited Mr Poonyos Kumpolkunjana, founder of Paper Ranger a local Bangkok non-profit, to give our team a workshop, titled, “Everyone can be a hero.”

 

On Tuesday, 18 April, Mr. Kumpolkunjana came to the PATA Engagement Hub and spoke to our team about how easy it is to make something useful out of paper waste, then showed us how to make notebooks using our office’s used paper! Our team had a lot of fun crafting notebooks out of paper waste.

 

Mr. Kumpolkunjana from Paper Ranger showing how its done

 

Everyone joined in, including Dr. Mario Hardy, the CEO of PATA

 

Proud participants presenting their work

 

His foundation arranges workshops with various groups, and donates the handcrafted notebooks that result from these workshops to schools throughout Thailand. Learn more about Paper Ranger here, and to book your own workshop, contact [email protected]

 

Recycling is a crucial concept in sustainable management, especially in an office environment. For more information check our green tips of this week here.

 

 

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Photocredit: Shutterstock

 

Earth Day, Saturday, 22 April, is all about environmental protection.

 

We’ve all heard about the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), which help to reduce pollution caused by waste, conserve natural resources, save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Many industries, including the tourism sector, are big contributors to environmental pollution; however, with proper waste management, a business can improve its business reputation, reduce waste costs and save energy. Reducing the amount of used paper in the offices can make a considerable positive impact.

 

Here are some ideas on how to reduce your paper waste in the office, even after Earth Day:

 

  1. Share files internally:

With Google Docs you can work simultaneously with colleagues on a document or spreadsheet. That means you do not need to share printed papers anymore. Other programmes that offering interactive document editing features include Microsoft Office 365 and Basecamp. For file storage and sharing, Dropbox or WeTransfer are popular options.

 

  1. Multitask:

Consider to invest in a dual or multi-monitor setup. According to the CIO Magazine and the Kyocera Environmental Survey 2011 employees print documents for cross-referencing them with another document. Giving employees more screens can also boost productivity at the same time. LCD monitors typically outlast computer upgrades, so this is one cost you’ll only need to pay once.

 

  1. Communicate with staff:

Explain to staff why it is important to minimise paper use and encourage them to join in the movement. Perhaps a competition that tracks the number of pages printed per person and shared with the team can be implemented and can incentivise staff to use less paper. Of course, this works best if staff are supported with paper saving facilities (online document stores, dual monitors, etc.).

 

  1. Make printing inconvenient:

An easy but effective way to save paper may be to reduce the number printers or paper available. Without fewer available printers in the office, employees are more likely to print less. This tactic can also help to save printer costs.

 

Sometimes, printing is absolutely necessary. Follow these rules for eco-friendly printing.

 

Successfully reducing the use of paper is a not done overnight. It takes effort and continuous education to move away from paper and establish a culture that shuns waste. Adopting the right tools can go a long way toward creating an environment to support a paperless office.

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COURTESY OF PIXABAY

 

Ever wondered what happens to the half-used bars of soap you leave behind after overnight stays in hotels?

In some cases, the soap gets recycled, thanks to a nonprofit named Clean the World.

The organization, which is based in Orlando, Florida, works with hotel partners to collect used soaps and recycle them for distribution to those in need. Since the organization was founded in 2009, it has distributed more than 40 million bars of soap to over 115 countries. And those numbers continue to grow.

Founder Shawn Seipler, who spent years in the technology industry, says the group’s mission is twofold: To recycle soap and hygiene products and to distribute these products to prevent hygiene-related deaths, reduce the morbidity rate for hygiene-related illnesses, and encourage childhood development programs.

 

Read more about the idea on recycling hotel soap here.

 

By MATT VILLANO From AFAR

 

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No detail is too small, especially when it comes to cleaning. This idea can be applied to every area of hospitality, but today we are specifically referring to spring cleaning. When you think about spring cleaning, de-cluttering comes to mind, but have you thought about the cleaning products you use? Sustainable living starts with our daily routine, so let’s pay attention to how we can reduce our impact while doing daily chores and cleaning at work or home.

 

Cleaning products can contain harmful chemicals that end up polluting our soil and waterways. Below are some eco- and wallet-friendly substitutes for commercial cleaning products that do the job and are appropriate for office, hotel properties and even your home.

 

 

  1. Use baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) to clean silver items

Baking soda is a great cleaning product that is readily available and is quite inexpensive. When cleaning, add three parts of bicarb to one part with water and mix it, creating a paste. You can use this paste for any silver item. Once finished, rinse with water and wipe with a dry cloth.

 

  1. The microwave-lemon trick

Squeeze some lemon juice into a microwaveable bowl and cook for three minutes in the microwave. Afterwards, leave it to stand for approximately five minutes, then open the door and wipe out the microwave using a dry cloth. The microwave grime will come right off! If lemon juice is cost-prohibitive, vinegar works just as well!

 

  1. Dabble in vinegar

Speaking of which, vinegar can have multiple uses for cleaning. It works well to remove grease in the kitchen, and clears up cloudy deposits on wine glasses, and to clean mold and mildew in bathrooms. It even works well to works well to freshen up leather products – dab using a dry cloth and gently brush on. Here are more uses and recipes for vinegar as a cleaning product!

 

  1. Environmental friendly cleansers:

If using chemical or commercial cleansers inform yourself about ingredients and packaging. Check the ecolabel and be sure to read more on criteria to evaluate green supplies.

 

There are many ways to make a positive impact on our environment. While it can be intimidating to “go green“ in every part of our lives, every small step can make a big difference.

 

Read more on eco-friendly cleaning here.

 

 

 

 

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Sustainability in tourism isn’t just about re-using that hotel towel a second day. It’s thinking deeply about how visitors get in and out of a destination while doing the least harm.

— Jason Clampet

With 2017 being the United Nations’ International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, now is as good a time as ever to take stock of the opportunities and challenges faced by tourism providers trying to ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry.

While tourism is important to many local and national economies, overcrowding is changing the perception of the benefits of mass tourism. Spain is a prime example of a country struggling with its popularity.

Barcelona’s relationship with tourism has been shaky for a number of years now. Already in 2014, the documentary “Bye Bye Barcelona” highlighted the negative impact of mass tourism on the city. Locals fear that they will be priced out of the housing market, eventually resulting in Barcelona losing population diversity and character. The local government has stopped issuing licences for new hotels and has banned change-of-use permits required for holiday lets.

And Barcelona is not alone. As of 2017, Santorini is limiting the number of cruise visitors to 8,000 per day. Local activists in Venice have asked government to ban cruise ships stopping in its harbour, as cruise visitors have quintupled in the past 15 years. Cinque Terre on the Italian coast is capping the number of visitors to 1.5 million per year. Popular attractions including Machu Picchu and Mount Everest are capping the number of visitors and require visitors to be accompanied by a recognised guide, and Zion National Park is looking at proposals to limit visitors through a reservation system.

Capping tourists is a drastic measure, and surely not something destinations would like to do. It is often seen as a last resort, and the fact that more and more tourist destinations see no other way to remain sustainable and competitive is telling of the apparent failure of other initiatives.

 

Read more here.

By Wouter Geerts, Euromonitor from Skift

 

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Selina Juul, who moved from Russian to Denmark when she was 13 years old, was shocked by the amount of food available and wasted at supermarkets

Never underestimate the power of one dedicated individual.

A woman has been credited by the Danish Government for single-handedly helping the country reduce its food waste by 25 per cent in just five years.

Selina Juul, who moved from Russian to Denmark when she was 13 years old, was shocked by the amount of food available and wasted at supermarkets.

Read more on how she reduced the waste of food in Denmark. By Zlata Rodionova.

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The UN has declared war on ocean plastic pollution

Photo credit: UNEP/Flickr

The Clean Seas campaign was launched last week, aimed at eliminating major sources of marine plastic and changing shopping habits.

The United Nations has declared war on plastic. In an unexpected announcement that emerged from the Economist World Ocean Summit in Bali last week, the UN officially launched its ‘Clean Seas’ campaign. The goal is to eliminate major sources of pollution, including microplastics in cosmetics and single-use disposable plastics, by pressuring governments and individuals to rethink the way goods are packaged and their own shopping habits. By Katherine Martinko. Read more.

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