I have just returned from a long awaited, yet far too short holiday break. Most people bring home souvenirs. But yours truly has returned to Bali with some not so fond memories of how much waste our group of three travellers produced on two flights.
Here goes: the plastic from the sealed cup of water on your meal tray; the aluminum foil that helps keep your meal warm; the plastic cup from additional refreshments; the ice cream wrapper; the plastic wrap that keeps your cutlery clean; the plastic cup that holds your dessert; the sachets that contain sugar, coffee and creamer, the stirrer…and so on.
Now, multiply that by the number of meals you ate. And by our group of three. Or multiply it by the number of passengers seated on a double-decker A380 aircraft that can hold from 544 to 868 passengers, depending on the airline. You have just contributed to producing a mountain of environmentally unfriendly waste. And we haven't even started on the aircraft’s fossil fuel pollution yet.
Just rereading about the waste involved and I am reminded of Swedish teen climate advocate Greta Thunberg, and how she does not fly.
The sixteen-year-old has spoken at many climate change rallies in Brussels, Helsinki, London, and Stockholm. She attended the United Nations COP24 meeting in Katowice, Poland. There she addressed the Secretary-General, making a speech that went viral and was shared by millions worldwide. Earlier this year she was invited to the World Economic Forum in Davos, where her speeches had a huge impact.
Thunberg tries to live a low-carbon life, is vegan, and doesn't fly. Earlier this year, when Thunberg went on a European tour, she traveled by train. The teen climate advocate refused to fly across the Atlantic due to carbon emissions, and today the solar-powered, eco-friendly boat she traveled on, is her climate change platform for worldwide publicity. See her progress here: Fridays for Future
The no flying part sounds mad. How are you supposed to travel for your holiday or business trip? There may not be a solution for us to be nominated for a Nobel Prize, but there are small changes in our own behaviour that can contribute to reducing the destruction of our planet.
Improving fossil fuel efficiency, and reducing net aviation CO2 emissions might sound too scientific for us. But what if airlines offered passengers a more environmentally-friendly cup instead of a single-use plastic one? Or, when a thirsty passenger asks for a refill of wine, perhaps you could reuse the same cup? Do passengers really have to print their tickets on paper? Could we have an option to bring our own reusable cutlery? Or even brings along a small collapsible hydra cup so there is less need for plastic cups and plastic packaging? All too often we complain, yet do not know how to help. Small behavioral changes by many can make a huge difference to all of us over time. Remember the turtle and the plastic straw?
As an individual consumer, our influence is limited. But when a large group of individuals has a loud enough voice, you reach that tipping point where the provider of a service or product must listen to you.
To the airline companies; please send us your press releases on your sustainability efforts. We want to learn more about them and share them with our readers. Let’s take small steps together, and make the planet Greta again.
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Editor What's New Bali