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.
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.
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.
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.
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