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PATA’s Green Team recently organised a week-long competition that challenged PATA staff to take action in the context of Earth Day 2018 which is celebrated on April 22 since 1970. We designed the PATA Earth Week Challenge to support Earth Day 2018’s campaign focusing on ending plastic pollution.

PATA staff teams confronted each other with their use of single-use plastic items with the goal of decreasing PATA’s plastic consumption and improving overall waste management. Each PATA staff could earn or lose points for their team depending on their use of reusable and/or single-use plastic items, as well as by engaging in special activities. The latter included taking quizzes, submitting green tips for the office and downloading the “My Little Plastic Footprint” app to learn about plastic pollution in a fun way. The Sustainability team provided a variety of tools and resources to help PATA staff reduce their plastic footprint at and outside of work while reminding everyone of the many simple and easy tips to go green, keep our earth safe, spend less, and make every day Earth Day.

    
PATA staff sharing good practices while scoring points for their teams
 

Starting from Day One of the challenge, immediate actions were taken. The PATA staff encouraged each other to switch to different types of reusable straws (e.g. bamboo, stainless steel), to replace single-use coffee-to-go cups with their own tumbler, to always carry a tote bag when leaving the office and to adopt other good practices. Everyone shared photos of their daily ‘green’ choices and/or reported cases of their own or other’s rule violation (e.g. using a single-use plastic straw or bag).

    
Choosing the better alternative: Bring your own tumbler; Use silverware instead of use single use chopsticks; Go for a paper straw instead of a disposable plastic one
 

Through self-reporting and online scoring sheets, teams had an overview of the choices they made on a daily basis. After a very successful week and great participation, we decided to extend the challenge for another week. On Stop Food Waste Day! we introduced another special activity challenging PATA staff to show their contribution to the initiative by being a food waste warrior here in Bangkok! If they took a photo of their clean plate after lunch that day, they earned extra points for their teams.

 
Photos taken for #CleanPlate activity on Stop Food Waste Day!
 

Throughout the competition, we encouraged PATA staff to observe their own plastic consumption, to look for and explore alternatives and to also learn about the environmental impact of plastics as well as the importance of tackling plastic pollution.

   
Eco-conscious choices: Choosing natural banana leaf wrapping over plastic; bringing reusable containers to buy fruits from street vendors and meat from the butcher; reusing a drinking cup to get bubble tea
 

The team with the most points won tickets for a fancy movie night. In addition, the Sustainability team selected one staff member who showed outstanding commitment to the challenge and rewarded her with the same prize. Everyone else received a regular movie voucher as a thank you for their commitment to making a difference and helping PATA to walk the talk.

Members of the winning team were leading by example from Day One

Over the course of two weeks, PATA staff saved more than 200 coffee/drinking cups and over 120 plastic bags from landfill. We closed the challenge by celebrating the winning team and acknowledging all teams’ eco-conscious decisions! We are committed to continue making green choices that help end plastic pollution.

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April 22 is Earth Day! Did you know that the environmental movement started close to 48 years ago in 1970, when millions of people took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development?

This year’s Earth Day campaign will focus on ending plastic pollution – it is now your turn to stand up, join in, and take action!

It is important to remember the connection between plastics and climate change since the latter is one of the most pressing issues affecting our planet today. An estimated five ounces of carbon dioxide is emitted for every ounce of Polyethylene Terephthalate produced.  Polyethylene Terephthalate, also known as PET, is the plastic most commonly used to make water bottles.

Earth Day Network’s End Plastic Pollution campaign includes four major components. Educating people worldwide to take personal responsibility for plastic pollution by choosing to reject, reduce, reuse, and recycle plastics is one of them. Find out about the other three here.

With only four days left until Earth Day 2018, here are four things you can do to support #EndPlasticPollution

There are many simple and easy tips to help you go green, keep our earth safe, spend less, and make every day Earth Day. Remember that you can make a difference and be the change every single day of the year.

For more easy reading, check out our tips on how to reduce plastic waste on our beaches and in our waters and 3 easy ways to tackle plastic.

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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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