One of the things I hate most about traveling is that it involves so many plastic bottles. In most of the countries I’ve visited or lived in plastic bottles were a necessity. In China, Pakistan and South Korea we were given 5 gallon bottles for a home unit as we were told that the local water would make us sick. In other countries the locals drink the water, but all the tourists are told to buy bottled water, even in parts of Europe.
I hate to think of what my water consumption alone is doing to the environment through plastic waste, especially since these countries don’t seem to have any recycling programs. I’m glad that sustainability is now catching on, and hopefully becomes wide spread in the next few years.
The 23-year-old sales associate was traveling for work, thirsty from the plane trip, and ready to set aside his personal commitment to sustainability to gulp down water from the single-use plastic bottles he always finds in his hotel rooms.That’s when a guest services agent at Hotel SLO, a new 78-room boutique hotel in San Luis Obispo, California, blew his mind.After checking his driver’s license and swiping his credit card, the agent regaled Thompson with information about the hotel’s commitment to sustainability.She hipped him to the glass bottles of filtered water chilling in his in-room fridge. She informed him about the communal water filling stations on each of the hotel’s four floors. Then she encouraged him to use the stations as frequently as he’d like — an invitation that surprised and delighted him to no end.“I have a good practice of avoiding single-use plastics in my day-to-day, but when traveling it’s often something I find quite difficult,” he said. “To be able to have filtered water on demand every day, multiple times a day, was definitely a plus.”
Slowly but surely, experiences like Thompson’s are becoming commonplace for travelers across the globe.At a time when people are becoming more conscious of what they can do to minimize their environmental impact, travel companies have responded by rethinking their long-standing reliance on single-use plastic amenities.These new policies and procedures have resulted in new opportunities for travelers to seek out brands with like-minded priorities and speak with their dollars and support.“Hotels are beginning to realize that there’s no silver-bullet answer to solving sustainability, and that they’ve got to be holistic to their approach to making a difference,” says Jessica Blotter, CEO and co-founder of Kind Traveler, a sustainable travel booking platform based in Malibu, California.“As consumers put more and more pressure on hotels and they have higher demands, the hotels will have to live up to the needs of their customers.”Consumers can pick sides in every argument, and this one is no exception. That means the easiest way for travelers to have a say on the plastics issue is to support companies that have cut back or are looking to do so.