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 every day habits, and the level of commitment can vary right through from one day to the full month of July or even beyond.
Commitments are easier to stick to when you are in a familiar environment, and we all know holidays can derail good habits. With #plasticfreejuly just around the corner, how could you make it easier for your guests to stick to their pledges?
As plastic pollution continues to dominate newspapers and social media, more and more countries and businesses are pledging to reduce or even completely eliminate single-use plastics. Many hundreds of thousands of people have already changed their habits at home, and they can be encouraged to continue this whilst they're on holiday. So, what are the Plastic Free July pledges and how can hotels help their guests to stick to them?
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 and holidaymakers is clearly to go with pledge 2. Not only are these very easy to achieve, they are also easy to communicate and they provide a clear and consistent approach to plastic reduction that hotel staff and guests can support.
With a little bit of preparation and some basic staff training, you can make it easy for staff and guests 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 a) before they travel, b) whilst they are staying with you and c) after they've gone home.
Before They Travel
As we've already referred to, many of your guests are going to be accustomed 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. They might however, be persuaded to do this if they know what your hotel 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 guests know that your hotel 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
There are likely to be many communications touch points in and around your hotel, 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 hotel 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, you'll find some simple posters here that can be customised to your brand.
If you haven't done so already, consider replacing plastic straws with paper straws. Get bar staff to remove the straws from easy reach, this will help to break the habit of automatically reaching for one every time they serve a drink, and from now on, only provide them on request.
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?
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....could they 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 or to return plastic bags for reuse - a simple basket with used but clean plastic bags at the till with a sign saying 'please reuse me' is enough to get a great message across and make a positive difference! Did you know that cotton bags needs to be used over 100 times before they are actually 'greener' than a plastic bag?
After They've Gone Home
When guests have gone home, 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, 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.
Why not use Plastic Free July as the starting point for a total review of single-use plastics in your operation? Do you really know how much plastic waste your hotel generates or what it costs you as a business? Are you uncomfortable trying to get guests involved or worried about how to identify the best alternatives that still meet health, safety and quality expectations?
Our Guide and Tool Kit are designed to help you find the answers and to put you in an informed position when it comes to considering the pros and cons of 'greener alternatives'. We also include a much wider range of guest communications templates, staff training tools, webinars and updates to help keep you on track for plastic reduction and associated cost savings.
With recommendations for simple ways to save up to €5000 per hotel by reducing or eliminating single-use plastics, there's never a better time to get started or take your journey even further.
Find out more by visiting our website.