Plastic free holiday advice

We asked expert companies, who have committed to trying to eliminate all single use plastic from their holidays, to send us some comments and tips on this much needed change in tourism. Bravo them for getting the ball rolling. And fast, too. We just need to get everyone else on board now,and all commit, as tourism providers, to playing a part in winning this war on single use plastics in tourism.
Local versus tourist attitudes

Local versus tourist attitudes

Mary King, from our supplier Vista Sketching Holidays:
“I think generally, my trips are fairly easy to keep (single use) plastic free, as they are quite non consumerist. Sketching and painting is by definition a fairly peaceful, low impact activity. Sri Lanka, in particular, is a relatively low plastic destination in general, in common with many less affluent countries. In much of Asia, plastic has arrived and is a huge problem, but I believe a great deal of it is caused by 1) the tourists and what the tourists want, and 2) what the locals believe the tourists want, and what they believe is the way forward for them (ie becoming more Western, with all that entails).”
Plastic bags

Plastic bags

Mary King, Vista Sketching Holidays:
“In Morocco, everything bought in markets, shops, grocers and so on used to come in a black plastic carrier bag which then found its way into the desert as the ubiquitous 'plastic bag bird' soaring high on the thermals. I'm delighted to say they have mostly stopped this now, and provide a biodegradable, reusable version which you must initially pay for. I always refuse these carrier bags, even though trying to explain the reason was quite laborious. Most tourists just accept them, then complain afterwards. For things to change, we must vote with our feet.”
Creating change

Creating change

Mary King, Vista Sketching Holidays:
“I do think we can win the war against single use plastics in destinations. But first, the tourist has to care. The locals will care when the tourists care. We must explain why we need things to change. In many parts of the world the sea is so choked with plastic rubbish that it's already putting divers and snorkellers off visiting. That is of no benefit to anyone, and once the tourist dollar stops coming in, locals will be forced to question why, and try to do something about it, even though it's often not entirely their fault. I think change is already happening… I truly never thought I'd live to see the demise of the ‘plastic bag bird’ in Morocco, but it is all but extinct.”
Water bottles and bags

Water bottles and bags

Lynne Helal-Gillis from our supplier Dive Urge Resort, Dahab, Red Sea, Egypt:
“Single use plastic water bottles is the biggest issue for us here as tap water is not an option in Egypt. So, we do highly recommend that guests bring a reusable bottle with them. We tried supplying them but they are hard to get here and folk like to use their own. It does make a massive difference. Also just saying no to a plastic bag in the local shops helps; it is something automatically offered in every shop for the smallest items.”
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Plastic free or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
Cleaning up & the bigger picture
Lynne Helal-Gillis, Dive Urge Resort:

Cleaning up

“We encourage guests to pick up at every site and on every dive, anything they see which should not be there. If there is a beach or ocean clean up, we encourage our guests to join.”

The bigger picture

“I think that as awareness is the first and most important step in the war against plastic, we are already on the right road. It is not just us as an operator in Egypt who needs to be aware but also folk back in the UK. Some can be a bit smug, believing that because they recycle they are doing their part… we need to make everyone aware that single use plastic is a global problem. It affects our destination as it is unsightly and can cause problems to the wildlife here.”
Tackling the skeptics

Tackling the skeptics

Luigi Piero Grieco from our supplier, Idillio d’Arte in Puglia, Italy:
“The problem of plastic bags, bottles, plates and so on is really hard to eradicate in our society. However, I do believe that if travellers show a demand for change, then this is a great starting point. It is important to start a dialogue and not start conflicts because of different attitudes. As Taleb Rifai at the UN World Tourism Organisation says, tourism can be a threat or an opportunity. And stopping the use of single use plastic is definitely an opportunity in tourism. This approach to the problem can move society and the travel economy along the right path to find solution; I just do not think everything will be solved in months, but in decades.”

Plastics free holiday advice from our staff

When I go to Chicago in June, I am planning to take my stainless steel food tin, keep cup, cloth bag, soap, water bottle, stainless steel razor for shaving and homemade toothpaste.
- Daisy Vasanthakumar, content editor
“I unwrap cosmetics before I go so I don't take unnecessary plastic wrapping. I decant moisturiser etc into little glass bottles so I don't end up buying the dreaded miniatures. Bamboo toothbrushes are brilliant. I also take a knife, spoon and fork for eating street food so you avoid the plastic ones (remember to pack in the hold though as you might not get through security if they're in hand luggage!). If self catering then shop in local markets as much as possible so that you buy fruit and veg unpackaged. And always bring a reusable shopping bag and reusable water bottle and coffee cups.” – Krissy Roe, head of special projects

“I have given up shower gel. Good old fashioned soap does the trick and I love buying new, natural ones at local markets when I travel. Just break off a small bit to travel with and then buy a bar when you are there. Solid shampoo is fabulous too, and there are lots of natural ones out there. I use organic coconut oil as a moisturiser. Heat it under the tap until it becomes liquid and then pour it into small glass container for travelling. Sun cream also comes in a tin; check out ‘Shade’ from Not the Norm Ltd as a good example.” – Catherine Mack, travel writer

“Some cities have an app or map you can download to help you find public water fountains so you can refill a water bottle, like this one for Paris. Plastic versus single use plastic is an interesting one – my plastic flip flops are on their third summer, whereas the fabric/bamboo type ones I bought fell apart after a month.” – Nicola Keen, IT projects manager
I unwrap cosmetics before I go so I don't take unnecessary plastic wrapping. I decant moisturiser etc into little glass bottles so I don't end up buying the dreaded miniatures. Bamboo toothbrushes are brilliant.
– Krissy Roe, head of special projects
“There are lots of great products available today to help you ditch the single use plastics when travelling with a baby. From reusable wipes and nappies to silicone or metal snack pots and plastic free bottles which are compatible with a range of popular brand teats. It requires a little organisation in terms of carrying extra reusable bags for used wipes and nappies when on the go but is fantastic when you reach your destination and don't have to run around finding a shop in order to re-stock your baby essentials.” – Anna Rice, content editor

“What about not using drinking straws when ordering drinks – or even bringing your own stainless steel straw? You can get some now that fold up and fit in a little box you can put on your key ring!” - Tessa O'Hara, help desk

“When I am on a walking or self catering break, I take my own lunch box. That way I can pack sandwiches without plastic bags or the squashing effect!” – Lyn Hill, finance manager

“I started in January to be more plastic conscious, and when I go to Chicago in June, I am planning to take my stainless steel food tin, keep cup, cloth bag, soap, water bottle, stainless steel razor for shaving and homemade toothpaste. Also if you are looking for inspiration, I follow Sustainably Vegan on YouTube, zero waste pioneer Lauren Singer, Zero Waste Home and Sustainably Vegan's new hashtag #thelowimpactmovement on Instagram.” – Daisy Vasanthakumar, content editor
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Kitty Terwolbeck] [Top box - degradable sack: Dive Urge] [Local versus touris attitudes: dronepicr] [Plastic bags: Jaume Escofet] [Creating change: Heath Alseike] [Water bottles: Jnzl's Photos] [Cleaning up & the bigger picture: Karen Roe] [Tackling the skeptics: Creole Sha] [Review 1 - Daisy Vasanthakumar: Daisy Vasanthakumar] [Review 2 - Krissy Roe: Marco Verch]