5.43 million passengers were carried on Australian domestic flights in August 2019 alone. If you travel regularly (or irregularly) for business or pleasure, the impact of this will be immediately evident – from the food packaging waste on airlines to the teeny tiny bottles (akin to treasure for some) that line your hotel amenity shelf, the wastage for one seems insignificant; multiply it by 5 million a month and it becomes insurmountable.
The good news is that the power is in our hands. As travellers we can choose to refuse, choose to consume consciously or bring our own lower waste options and help to stem the massive flow of wastage caused by the domestic travel industry – and perhaps it’s time to get your boss to invest in that great new video conferencing system? But when video won’t do, here’s our top tips for reducing waste on your next domestic trip:
For domestic travel, the rate of recycling is far higher than international travel which has stricter requirements (most waste gets incinerated off international flights) however, we know that certain items such as plastic cutlery and small milk cartons with lids not detached and soft plastic items are not able to be recycled and that a reusable item would cost far less to the environment in its creation and lifetime of use.
“As much as we’d like to reuse or recycle, regulations don’t allow for that.”Chris Goater, International Air Transport Association ABC.net.au
Unfortunately, plastic is the popular choice inflight as it is light, cheap to create and easy to dispose of (in landfill of course) and, though Qantas has recently committed to zero waste flights by 2021 after completing their trial “no landfill” flight earlier this year, until all airlines follow suit, there are many things we can do as domestic consumers to reduce our own personal waste such as:
Carry your own water bottle
Not only will you be more hydrated, you’ll have no need for those tiny plastic cups in flight. If the thought of carrying a bottle and a reusable coffee cup annoys you – invest in one of the many stainless-steel cups which can second as a water vessel.
Bring your own reusable coffee cup
If you’re like us (and half of Australia), you’ll be wanting a coffee pre-flight. Bring your own coffee cup and use it throughout your travel – you can even use it on the flight saving another wasted cup! I love my Frank Green cup because it’s spill proof and light – you can grab your own like this Frank Green: Stainless Steel Reusable Cup – Little Boy Blue (10oz/295ml)
Refuse food service & BYO snacks
If you’re only on a two-hour domestic flight, this may be an option for you especially if you’ve packed some snacks for the flight – nuts and dried fruit will keep you satiated until you hit the ground.
On the ground…
Once you hit the tarmac, you’ll be in a hurry to reach your next destination. Typically for business travel the cost of a taxi or Uber will be covered by your company but consider if you can afford the time to take the train. Not only will you be contributing to a greener planet, but the extra 10 minutes or so walk to your destination will give you time to clear your mind ready to launch into the next meeting.
Get out that coffee cup
If you’re like me, you’ll be wanting to grab a coffee on the way to help you get through a hectic morning of back to back’s – and your re-useable coffee cup will come in handy here. If you’re concerned about how much you’ll need to carry – a glass or metal reusable cup can easily double as your water bottle for the trip saving you bulk and weight in your carry on.
Take your tote
Planning on picking up some supplies for your stay? Carrying a pack down tote bag will never be a waste of space. Use it to wrap your coffee cup and water bottle in to keep them handy during the trip.
Leave toiletries on the shelf
Oh how we love those tiny hotel toiletries in Australia – they are like a little treasure we covet -despite their contents being sub-par to our daily shampoo and conditioner! Unfortunately, they come at a big cost with over 200 million of the little devils dumped in landfill each year.
Luckily many hotels are becoming aware of their impact and are starting to make changes. Brilliantly, Marriott hotel group has committed to banning single use toiletries by 2020. In the meantime, the best option is to leave those tiny devils on the shelf and bring your own supplies – a simple small tin can hold a piece of soap, shampoo bar and conditioner bar. Toothpaste will take up no space at all in a tiny tin and a bamboo toothbrush is super light. I also have fallen in love with my safety razor – it has literally no waste as the razors get popped in a can and recycled – this one looks like mine – WEISHI Safety Razor
Hang up your towel
It can be tempting to have a fresh new fluffy towel for each time you shower but since you wouldn’t do that at home (I mean who wants to wash that much?) you don’t need to do it in a hotel. Often hotel staff will wash your towel if it’s been tossed on the floor or bench, so make sure you hang up your towel on the hook – and bank that good karma.
If you’re guilty of leaving the air conditioning and tv running in hotel rooms while you’re not there, we’re sure you’re not alone. Make sure you power down all appliances and lights before heading out the door. With the average carbon footprint in Australia being 15.37 tonnes per year, and the agreed worldwide target of 2 tonnes per person, taking small steps to reduce the impact of our travel can and will make a difference. You can use this handy site to work out your annual carbon footprint and start taking steps to reduce it – www.calculator.carbonfootprint.com