Plastic Free July
Plastic Free July has gone from very humble beginnings in Australia back in 2011 to a global movement sweeping 150 countries today. People all over the world are joining in with the challenge by pledging to make personal changes to everyday habits, and the level of commitment can vary right through from one day to the full month of July or even beyond.
As plastic pollution continues to dominate newspapers and social media, more and more countries and businesses are pledging to reduce or even completely eliminate some types of single-use plastic products. Thanks to documentaries like Blue Planet II and Plastic Ocean, and campaigns like Plastic Free July, many people are changing their behaviours at home, but we all know that holidays can derail good habits. With #plasticfreejuly just around the corner, how could you make it easier for your guests and customers to stick to their pledges?
What are the Plastic Free July Pledges?
People can choose to implement as many pledges as they like and make a personal decision on how long they intend to stick to them.
• Avoid Plastic Packaging
• Avoid the Top 4 take-aways (bags, bottles, straws and coffee cups)
• Go completely plastic free
The most realistic option for hotels, hospitality businesses and holidaymakers is clearly to go with pledge 2. Not only are these easy to achieve, they are also easy to communicate and they provide a clear and consistent approach to plastic reduction that both staff and guests can support.
With a little bit of preparation and some basic staff training, you can make it easy for staff and customers to kick some of the single-use habits. Firstly, and most importantly you need to tell them what you are doing. For staff that could be as simple as a quick meeting and planning session, but for guests, it will require a little more consideration.
Think about all of the ways that you can communicate with your guests and customers before they travel and whilst they’re staying with you.
Before They Travel
Many of your guests are used to reducing single-use plastics at home, but they’re not necessarily going to pack a reusable shopping bag, straw, bottle and coffee cup into their luggage. However, they might do this if they know what your business is planning to do.
Why not download some of the free posters and logos from the Plastic Free July website and use these in your social media accounts or newsletters to let people know that your business is supporting the campaign. Tell them they are welcome to bring reusable bottles, straws and coffee cups with them, not everyone will do this, but it’s still a great message.
Whilst They Stay With You
Specifically for accommodation providers, there are likely to be many communications touch points in and around the accommodation. Think about where you guests are likely to spend time – standing at the bar, waiting in reception, inside lifts and inside rooms.
Then think about which types of communications methods can work best in these areas. For example, in rooms you might use an information folder, an A4 welcome letter, a tent card, a in-house TV channel.
At the bar and in onsite shops or other outlets you can use point of sale cards for information on straws, bottles, coffee cups and plastic bags.
If Covid means you can’t have printed materials, put the information into an app that’s accessible from the QR reader. Include information on your food and drinks menus so that people are guaranteed to see it.
What else can you do?
- Provide straws only on request. Remove straws from within easy reach of bar staff will help to break the habit of automatically reaching for one every time they serve a drink.
- Replace plastic straws with reusable alternatives and again, only on request. Treat reusable alternatives like knives, forks and spoons – put them in the dishwasher to ensure that they are washed in the same way.
- Replace plastic straws with paper, straw or even edible alternatives.
- Ask guests where they intend to take their coffee, maybe they don’t need a take-away cup at all if they’re going to stay at the bar?
- Think about how you serve water. Could guest refill their own bottles, even if this is at a charge? Self-service water dispensers are hygienic if they are cleaned properly, pressing the button on the dispenser is the same as pressing the button to call the lift. If you are concerned, invest in touch-free models
At reception you could include information on noticeboards, put posters inside lifts and don’t forget that your staff are a great asset in communicating your activities, especially those in customer facing roles who can tell guests what the hotel is doing and how they can get involved.
Entertainments teams and children’s club staff are usually very creative and could design a number of activities around the plastic free theme throughout the course of the month, or even organise local clean up events for guests to join.
And not just your staff, think about the tour operator representatives and how they could give their guests information in welcome meetings for example?
If you have a souvenir outlet or a mini-market on site, why not encourage people to bring their own reusable bag.
If you continue to communicate with guests after they have gone home via newsletter, don’t let them forget about all your good work. Keep them updated by letting them know some fun facts about the impacts they have contributed to for Plastic Free July.
For example, could you tell them how many straws and bottles were saved over the course of the month, or how many people got involved in a beach clean and how much waste they picked up?
Maybe you intend to continue with some of the plastic reduction activities you’ve started, if you do then let people know, it’s a fantastic story and certainly very good for your reputation! Social media, blogs and newsletters are a great way to do this and they help to keep your brand fresh in your guests’ minds long after they’ve gone home.
We’d love to hear how you get on with Plastic Free July so please feel free to share your success with us. Email us or tag us in your social media.
If you have any questions contact John Dale Beckley- firstname.lastname@example.org