Plastic pollution is making an unwelcome impact on beaches and nature all over the world. Many islands have vulnerable economies that largely depend on tourism and fisheries. Mismanaged plastic negatively impacts biodiversity, livelihoods, and these key economic sectors.
Plastic pollution on islands partially comes from plastic remains washed ashore. But most comes from the islands themselves. Single-use plastic has a significant part to play in the pollution, but so do the less visible microplastics which enter the food-chain. That are thereby impacting eco-systems, wildlife and our own health.
The problem of (marine) plastic pollution is growing. So, what can tour operators do to reduce their impact? Willemijn Peeters founded Searious Business nearly five years ago, with the aim to prevent plastic soup at the source.
The team commits to preventing plastic pollution. The knowledge that 20.000 kg of plastic enters the ocean every minute, drives them to work with global companies and large-scale projects to effect meaningful change.
"We provide solutions to close the plastic loop keeping materials in the economy and out of the ocean".
As part of the solution to address plastic leakage from islands, Searious Business consulted the tourism industry. They share the same ambition: Healthy seas, healthy communities and happy travellers! We have identified several problem areas and solutions that have been tried and tested. Below are our 5 tips for tour operators to prevent plastic waste from the tourism sector.
Tackling plastic pollution is a joint effort. Set a positive example for travellers, citizens and other businesses by taking the lead. Team up with cafes and restaurants that offer alternatives to single-use plastics. Recommend these partners to your customers and agree on discounts for your customers. It's a great way to boost the plastic waste free movement!
Your reusable bottle that is. Encourage the use of reusable bottles among customers. Encourage them to bring their own or refer customers to places where they can buy or borrow one. Alternatively, buy a stock of reusable bottles with your own brand logo!
Serve lunch in reusable containers and avoid single-use plastic cutlery and bags. Investing in a stock of reusables will help you save money in the long run. There are many options available from mason jars to metal tiffin boxes. Again, promote partners, like restaurants and cafes, which use reusable food containers!
Don't hand out individually wrapped items. From snacks and souvenirs, to brochures, maps and toiletries. Find an alternative option! Also talk to suppliers and ask if they can provide their products without the plastic waste.
The global pandemic has led to many changes, including the need to wear facemasks. Help your customers avoid the need to purchase disposable masks by offering them re-usable ones. These can either be kept or returned and washed as part of a laundry service offer.
To provide more practical guidance on preventing plastic waste, Searious Business has created three toolkits. Each toolkit aims to support different stakeholders in tourism: Tour Operators, Hotels and Hospitality and Cruise Liners. The toolkits summarise more tips and tricks about implementing change.
Willemijn Peeters: "Our vision is Zero Plastic Waste into the ocean. And we want to enable others to join the movement. These toolkits are unique in providing zero plastic waste best practices from around the world. They also include clear comparisons to business-as-usual for return on investment, waste and carbon footprint savings".
To request your free Zero Plastic Waste Toolkit for tour operators, contact email@example.com.
Whilst acknowledging that we're in the midst of the global pandemic, the tourism sector must focus on a brighter, cleaner future. With the focus on a green economic recovery, we are all looking for opportunities to create "the new normal". Preventing plastic pollution is one way to make the future of tourism better. Join the movement be a leader of change and become a Zero Waste Hero!