Beating Plastic Pollution this World Environment Day

Updated: Jun 5, 2019

What is World Environment Day?

World Environment Day is the United Nations day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment. Since it began in 1974, the event has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries.

Every year carries a different theme and, whilst this year's theme focuses on air pollution, it is still very relevant to plastic. When we think about replacing plastic with other 'greener' alternatives, often we don't think about the environmental footprint of the alternatives and sadly, they can sometimes be worse than the single-use plastic they are destined to replace. However, we don't want this to put you off from implementing change, and in our Let's Reduce Single-Use Toolkit we go into the detail you need to help you make the right decision for your business.

Whether you're taking the first steps towards plastic reduction or are keen to accelerate change, make this World Environment Day the day you commit to implementing something new.

But change is so hard....

The word CHANGE can frighten people or it can exhilarate people.

More often than not, the word change is met with a negative response, a focus on all the things that could go wrong, or all the reasons why something won't work, without having even tried it!

It is often easier to implement changes when they are associated to a specific cause or goal, and there's nothing better than a 'World Day' to get change on the agenda.

Make World Environment Day the Catalyst for Change

As a management team, you will already have some idea of what changes you would like to implement, but you need support from staff and guests to make it happen.

In the weeks leading up to World Environment Day we highly recommend getting a number of key staff together - including those that don't like change - for a World Environment Day Workshop.

Workshops are a fantastic, interactive way to find solutions that really work and that can be implemented immediately.

Our Let's Reduce Single-Use Toolkit includes templates and detailed 60 minute plans for a range of topics, but we've summarised some of the key steps we would take to deliver a World Environment Day Workshop below.

Planning for a World Environment Day Workshop

Let's imagine that you'd really like to reduce or eliminate miniature bathroom amenities from the guest rooms - this becomes your World Environment Day Workshop Topic.

You want to use World Environment Day to launch a totally new policy on amenities that will help you to significantly reduce waste and associated costs, but you know it could be met with resistance for a number of reasons:

  • Guests feel that you've taken something away from them

  • Compliance with local quality standards

  • This is what we've always done, why change?

As a hotel manager, you go into this workshop knowing that staff will very likely focus on the negative. It is really important that your staff get the option to discuss the challenges, but the key is to also get them to identify a range of solutions. When staff have suggested an idea themselves, they are much more likely to implement it!

Amenities Workshop Exercise

Draw a vertical line down the middle of a flip chart page and write the heading CHALLENGES in the top left. Give staff 10 minutes to discuss and write down the challenges associated with a number of approaches:

1) Eliminating everything but hand-washing soap

2) Switching to refillable, wall mounted alternatives

3) Offering plastic free alternatives

After 10 minutes, write a new heading in the top right of the flip chart titled SOLUTIONS. Allow a further 10 minutes for staff to identify solutions that would practically overcome the challenges and to write these down. Encourage them to think outside of the box, no idea is a silly idea.

Can you eliminate the plastic bottles and keep the soap?

Finally, take a new flip chart paper and ask participants to identify a range of communications platforms and possible content that would positively engage guests with this particular change at the following 3 stages:

1) Before they’ve booked

2) During their stay

3) After they’ve left

Ask them to think about:

  • How to ensure changes don’t create complaints or a negative perception from guests.

  • How does going single-use free positively impact the guest experience, the environment, the local community – what are the guests part of by positively engaging with this?

  • What is the best way to reach them – social media, newsletter, in room communications etc.

  • What type of message is likely to get people involved? (persuasive, positive, shock tactics, collaborative)

Expected answers would include, but not be limited to:

Pre-Booking: Website, Mailing List, TV adverts, magazines, social media

During Stay: Hotel TV channel, chalk boards, signage, children’s club, entertainments team, newsletters, in the lifts, at the onsite shops, reception staff, guest services, in room tent cards, questionnaires

Post Stay: guest questionnaire, mailing lists, TripAdvisor, letters, social media

Implement your World Environment Day (and beyond) Change

To get the best possible outcome, agree on ONE approach that best suits your customer demographic and create a good communications campaign around this specific focus.

Monitor the impacts, don't give up at the first hurdle and be confident that in doing the right thing in the right way you are making a significant positive difference.

For 24 hours only...

In celebration of World Environment Day this year, we're offering a huge 25% discount off the purchase price of our Let's Reduce Single-Use Toolkit

Available from midnight 4th June to midnight 5th June 2019 (BST)

Use code WED2019 at checkout