The Eco-Aesthete: A Straw Poll on Single-Use Plastic in Hotels

The Eco-Aesthete: A Straw Poll on Single-Use Plastic in Hotels

Boutique hotel expert Juliet Kinsman reckons being a considerate traveller is as good for your mood as having a steamy holiday romance. Here, the founder of Bouteco highlights the heroes and shows you how to make the world a better place through your travels.

of snorkellers fighting their way through man-made
polymers and fit surfers lamenting the waste among their waves must
have floated into your social feed of late – and beaches awash with
old bottles and carrier bags is hardly inspiration when dreaming of
your next tropical getaway. We’ve all either done a beach clean or
had a smug friend brag about doing their bit picking up litter from
the coastline. The thing is – that’s just us dealing with the
symptom of pollution. Just as Ayurveda and traditional Chinese
medicine are ancient health systems based on tacking the causes of
illness, not just the results, if us humans really want to boost
our planet’s wellbeing, we’d be better off tackling the cause of
all the waste out there, not just picking it up. So it’s heartening
to hear about the hotels who are making it their policy to give
single-use plastics the heave-ho – the less plastic used, the less
that will end up in our oceans, obviously.

Ben Pundole, founder of review site A
Hotel Life
, stepped up significantly by launching a dedicated
campaign #StayPlasticFree. But
circulating another hashtag isn’t going to change the world.
Thankfully, since he’s also vice-president of brand experience at
EDITION Hotels, by holding up their hands and coming
clean about how they’ve been guilty of contributing to the problem
in the past, it’s impressive to see the extent to which he’s
changing their ways… “If you lined up the half a million plastic
straws used at the London EDITION alone it would be the same in
distance as it is to Brighton
from the capital,” says Ben. That’s a lot of sucked-up delicious
cocktails in Berners Tavern. Now it’s their mission to make
all EDITION hotels totally single-use plastic free by the end of
2019 – that means forsaking a lot of landfill fodder in the form of
coffee cups, straws, toothbrushes and minibar malarkey.

When it comes to being part of the solution, the chains are
slowly taking steps towards being more sustainable. Four
Seasons Hotels and Resorts
recently declared all of its
properties have gone plastic-straw free, while mega-group AccorHotels has pledged to zap away
every last sucker from all its North and Central American
properties in the next couple of months. Anantara Hotels will have followed suit by the end of
the year and Taj Hotels is at least phasing out straws from
in-room dining at all 98 hotels.

But ultimately it’s down to us as individuals to take
responsibility for all that we buy, use and cast away. Yes, yes, we
all know it’s better to use refillable drinking-water bottles such
as LifeStraw – what else can we do? A friend asked me if
when I’m packing, do I instinctively consider whether there’s any
packaging or wrapping I might be carting off to a destination that
might not have responsible refuse or recycling system in place? Um,
nope. I hadn’t even thought about it. Instead of feeling guilty
about all those cosmetic bottles I’ve casually dropped in the hotel
bathroom bin in Bali, say, next time I’ll be sure to
ask the management more about where their waste ends up… To borrow
a supermarket’s advertising slogan, every little helps.

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