Wasteful first day at BAcon Las Vegas

This was a wasteful first day at BAcon, the BoardingArea Conference. One day in Las Vegas and I have more waste in my hotel room than I created in two weeks of traveling around Norway before coming to Las Vegas yesterday.

In my hotel room at Mandalay Bay, there is an empty plastic water bottle on the dresser, the styrofoam container that held my lunch from Panda Express, a paper cup with plastic lid and straw and plastic bag from Panda Express. Even though I had a cloth bag with me when I went to buy lunch today, I knew there was a high probability the juice from the Chinese food would spill out of the styrofoam package and soak my cloth bag. I did not want a messy cloth bag to wash. My Trader Joe’s recycled plastic bag would have been a better choice when I went to lunch, but I took that out of my backpack during the eight hours after getting home to Monterey from Oslo before coming to Las Vegas. I even wish I had brought tupperware to Las Vegas and had Panda Express put the food directly in my own container. That styrofoam will still be land or ocean fill long after I am dead. Another piece of long term waste for one meal of thousands of meals I have eaten in my life.

There are several small boxes from the BAcon conference swag. There is a table covered in packaging waste in my hotel room after 12 hours at the hotel.


First day of BAcon waste in my hotel room.

In Norway this month, I was a good steward of the environment. I carried my hard plastic water bottle with me all day as I hiked miles around the countryside and cities. Tap water is fine in Norway. I was in and out of hotels, restaurants and bathrooms where I could refill my water bottle. I only drank water from my water bottle when outside all day. I purchased no fluids in Norway.

In Norway, I carried a hard plastic one piece cutlery with fork, knife and spoon I used for eating meals on the trip. I used Tupperware food containers for storing leftover food. I bought few things in Norway over two weeks, except for a few small food items. I took a cloth bag with me when I went to the store.

I carried and used the same bar of soap for two weeks in Norway that I opened at the Hyatt Regency SFO the night before I flew to Norway. That one bar of soap met my needs for 14 hotel nights, albeit in Norway there were refillable soap dispensers in all the hotels. Only the last hotel I stayed even had a bar of packaged soap for guests. I brought back that one bar of packaged soap from the last luxury hotel where I stayed in Norway. I’ll use that at home in Monterey.

Today I will be sure to carry my regular hard plastic water bottle with me all day. 275 million plastic water bottles are thrown out everyday in the USA. Only 6% of plastic water bottles in the USA are recycled.

Yesterday, I made a rare purchase at LAS airport Starbucks for a strawberry smoothie that I downed in 10 minutes.  I rarely make Starbucks purchases and this purchase was an impulse buy due to having a gift card in my wallet and a desire for something besides water. That was another plastic cup for the dumps of Las Vegas. Plastic straw too. And my purchase was unnecessary since I had water in my water bottle from the Monterey Airport filling station.

MRY water refill

Monterey Airport water bottle refill station at gate.

Tips for Environmentally Friendly Travel

1. Reusable water bottle.

2. Reusable coffee/hot beverage mug if you order hot beverages.

3. Reusable plastic cutlery rather than throwaway forks and spoons.

4. Cloth bag and/or hard plastic bag when you want a rectangular bottom.

5.. Tupperware or reusable container for food orders. Have your food order placed directly in your own clean container with sealable lid.  Styrofoam takes longer than your lifetime to degrade.

Environmental friendly

Pack right and waste lite

Travel does not need to be so wasteful if you plan to be environmentally friendly on the road.


Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.

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About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

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  1. Cool. Pack it for all your trips as a reminder of important items to pack and reduce your waste.

    Last month I finally installed the second laser jet cartridge that came with my HP 1300 printer 7 years ago.

  2. Wow. You are a lot more hardcore about this than me. I’m sending a link of this to my girlfriend who travels more than I do. It is good to know how you do it, so I have some questions for you:

    What is that little orange button looking think above the knife/fork/spoon in the photo? From the list, I’d say hot mug or Tupperware, but they don’t look like it to me.

    How you do cut food with the knife and the fork on the same utensil?

    Do you have any tricks for asking counter folks to use your mugs, Tupperware(especially), etc? What reactions have you gotten?

    I’m thinking I could take a re-useable container to the food places from which I know I will have leftovers.

    Thank you for your mindful life post.

  3. @Charles Clarke – thinking of you yesterday when a blogger told me she is going to Rocky Mountain National Park (no s on mountain).

    Orange thing is the soap I am taking home from Mandalay Bay. I thought I still had the soap from the Europe trip, but I left it in my shower at home during my brief overnight this week.

    Cut with the knife and then fork. Often I have a pocket knife too for the knife tool when I fly with checked bag.

    Some US restaurants will not allow Tupperware takeaway. If I had known Panda Express was going to use Styrofoam, then I would have asked for a paper box takeaway.

    I don’t obsess over it. Simply try to conserve where I can. When I forget utensils or a bag, then I simply try to reuse the first ones I pick up on my travels. Baby steps for the environment reduce waste and add up to getting us closer to conserving resources.

  4. So many ways to be eco-friendly and yet so few places embracing the concept.

    Love the spork! I’m assuming it’s the one we got at TBEX Keystone from Hosteling International. That was and still is the best piece of swag I’ve received from any conference.

  5. I get takeout from Panda Express at the airport quite often. In the post you mention wishing you’d asked them to use your container. Have you done this a different time? How did they react?

    I carry my own reusable chopsticks, but it is a challenge to not get a fork from Panda Express. If you get the first person to not put one in the box as it goes down the line, the next one sees that it is missing and puts one in. Is it easier to stop that if they’re filling your container?

    Thanks for the great post.

  6. @Debbie – Spork Is the great piece of swag from TBEX Keystone.

    @Shannon – I do not buy food often from fast food vendors or restaurants. Airports tend to be the place where I do buy food. Telling the food service worker that you want to use a sealable Tupperware so it does not leak or spill in your bag getting to the plane is a logical reason most people can relate to when making the request.

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