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Plastic Free July

July 9, 2021

Plastic Free July has gone from very humble beginnings in Australia back in 2011 to a global movement sweeping 150 countries today.  People all over the world are joining in with the challenge by pledging to make personal changes to everyday habits, and the level of commitment can vary right through from one day to the full month of July or even beyond.

As plastic pollution continues to dominate newspapers and social media, more and more countries and businesses are pledging to reduce or even completely eliminate some types of single-use plastic products. Thanks to documentaries like Blue Planet II and Plastic Ocean, and campaigns like Plastic Free July, many people are changing their behaviours at home, but we all know that holidays can derail good habits.  

What are the Plastic Free July pledges?

1

Avoid single-use plastic packaging

2

Avoid take-away items (bags, bottles, straws and coffee cups

3

Go completely plastic free

People can choose to implement as many pledges as they like and make a personal decision on how long they intend to stick to them.

The most realistic option for hotels, hospitality businesses and holidaymakers is clearly to go with pledge 2. Not only are these easy to achieve, they are also easy to communicate and they provide a clear and consistent approach to plastic reduction that both staff and guests can support.  

With this in mind, how could you make it easier for your guests and customers to stick to their pledges?

Be prepared

With a little bit of preparation and some basic staff training, you can make it easy for staff and customers to kick some of the single-use habits. Firstly, and most importantly you need to tell them what you are doing. For staff that could be as simple as a quick meeting and planning session, but for guests, it will require a little more consideration.

 

Think about all of the ways that you can communicate with your guests and customers before they travel and whilst they’re staying with you.  

Before they travel

Many of your guests are used to reducing single-use plastics at home, but they’re not necessarily going to pack a reusable shopping bag, straw, bottle and coffee cup into their luggage. However, they might do this if they know what your business is planning to do.

Why not download some of the free posters and logos from the Plastic Free July website and use these in your social media accounts or newsletters to let people know that your business is supporting the campaign. Tell them they are welcome to bring reusable bottles, straws and coffee cups with them, not everyone will do this, but it’s still a great message.

While they stay with you

Specifically for accommodation providers, there are likely to be many communications touch points in and around the accommodation.  Think about where you guests are likely to spend time – standing at the bar, waiting in reception, inside lifts and inside rooms.

Then think about which types of communications methods can work best in these areas. For example, in rooms you might use an information folder, an A4 welcome letter, a tent card, a in-house TV channel.

At the bar and in onsite shops or other outlets you can use point of sale cards for information on straws, bottles, coffee cups and plastic bags.

If Covid means you can’t use printed materials, put the information into an app that’s accessible from the QR reader.  Include information on your food and drinks menus so that people are guaranteed to see it.

What else could you do?

Once guests have gone home

If you continue to communicate with guests after they have gone home via newsletter, don’t let them forget about all your good work. Keep them updated by letting them know some fun facts about the impacts they have contributed to for Plastic Free July.

For example, could you tell them how many straws and bottles were saved over the course of the month, or how many people got involved in a beach clean and how much waste they picked up?

Maybe you intend to continue with some of the plastic reduction activities you’ve started, if you do then let people know, it’s a fantastic story and certainly very good for your reputation!  Social media, blogs and newsletters are a great way to do this and they help to keep your brand fresh in your guests’ minds long after they’ve gone home.

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Jo Hendrickx
Jo Hendrickx
Jo is a sustainability professional living in Gran Canaria with over 20 years of experience in the global tourism industry. She has worked extensively with hotels and accommodation providers around the world since 2001 helping managers to navigate the health, safety, quality and sustainability expectations of tour operators. Increasingly concerned with the impacts of unnecessary plastics, Jo was motivated to create Travel Without Plastic to support those hotels that want to make a difference.
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