Earth Day

The last (plastic) straw for Alaska Airlines

Courtesy Alaska Airlines 

Earth Day  – which this year highlighted Lonely Whale’s “For a Strawless Ocean” campaign to get people and companies to stop using plastic straws – has come and gone. But the earth still needs our help.

So it’s good to know that Alaska Airlines has jumped on the No Straws bandwagon. Starting July 16 the carrier will stop serving single-use, non-recyclable, plastic stir straws and citrus picks with drinks and will replace them with sustainable alternatives in its airport lounges and on all domestic and international commercial flights.

What’s wrong with plastic straws?  They non-recyclalbe and if they end up on the oceans, they can kill  birds and other marine life.

In 2017, Alaska Airlines handed out 22 million plastic stir straws and citrus picks. This summer, they’ll instead start using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified white birch stir sticks and a bamboo alternative for the citrus pick. People with special needs will be able to request non-plastic, marine-friendly straws.

Alaska Airlines has a good history of being eco-conscious.

Since it started tracking its recycling efforts in 2010, the airline says it has reduced passenger waste going to landfills by 54 percent.

The Seattle-based carrier has also replaced bottled beer with aluminum cans -which are lighter and easier to recycle and introducted a policy to refill plastic cups rather than offering a new cup for every round of beverage service.

“Building on our grassroots, employee-led recycling program, we’re thrilled to take the next step to protecting our land and oceans by removing single-use non-recyclable plastic straws from our planes,” said Jacqueline Drumheller, sustainability manager for Alaska Airlines, in a statement.

Let’s see if other airines join the no-straw party.

Ho­tels, airports, airlines mark Earth Day

 

Earth Day, which has been celebrated annually since 1970, falls on Sunday, April 22 and hotels, airport, airline and other segments of the travel industry are joining in to draw attention to environmental movements worldwide.

Hotels ditching those tiny plastic bottles, offering Earth Day events

This week, 450 hotels across Marriott International’s Classic Brands, including Courtyard, Fairfield Inn, Residence Inn, Springhill Suites and TownePlace properties, began replacing individually wrapped soaps and tiny .7 ounce plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner with shower-product dispenser systems.

The dispensers contain Paul Mitchell Tea Tree brand products and Marriott estimates that the average hotel will divert from landfills more than 23,000 tiny bottles, or 250 pounds of plastic, per year. Overall, Marriott International hopes that, once the switchover is completed at 1500 of its hotels, it will do away with more than 10.4 million plastic bottles and save more than 113,000 pounds of plastic each year.

1Hotels, with properties in Manhattan and Brooklyn in New York and in Miami’s South Beach, is kicking off its ‘Earth Day Every Day’ campaign this weekend with a series of events and talks. Each property will also be creating lobby “action centers” designed to both educate guests about environmental issues and encourage them to take action by contacting federal, state and local legislators.

Also, in honor of Earth Day and National Park Week (April 21-29), participating Travelodge Hotels are offering guests a “Celebrate Earth Day” rate of 25 percent off Best Available Rates for stays completed by April 30, 2018. Details here .

Airport restaurants and airlines make Earth Day efforts

On Earth Day, 200 Delaware North-operated restaurants at 23 airports and highway travel hubs across the United States are kicking off a campaign to reduce plastic waste by offering drinking straws only by request. With “The Last Straw” campaign, the company hopes to significantly cut back on the estimated 8.1 million plastic drinking straws it handed out last year.

Airlines are also joining in with Earth Day efforts.

On Thursday, April 19, Delta Air Lines bought carbon offsets for an estimated 170,000 corporate and leisure domestic passengers who traveled into or out of seven major airports, including Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Raleigh, and all three New York-area airports. The airline’s carbon offset program calculates the carbon emissions per customer and then invests in projects that provide social benefits and reduce emissions.

“We know that many of our customers are engaged in their own personal and corporate sustainability efforts and want to extend those efforts to travel,” said Christine Boucher, Delta’s managing director for Global Environment, Sustainability & Compliance, in a statement, “We’re proud to help them do that through this program and projects that expand our global sustainability efforts.”

And on Earth Day Air Canada plans to save 160 tons of carbon on 22 domestic flights out of Toronto-Pearson International Airport by blending 230,000 liters (more than 60,000 gallons) of sustainable biofuel into the airport’s fuel supply system.

“Our participation is one way Air Canada is reducing its footprint and also helping our entire industry improve its environmental performance,” said Calin Rovinescu, President and Chief Executive of Air Canada.

You also have until April 30 to vote in the JetBlue for Good campaign which will award grants of $15,000 each to 4 earth-friendly causes. If you vote, you’ll also get an entry in a contest for 2 roundtrip travel certificates with carbon offsets to reduce the eco-impact of your travel.

Worms at LaGuardia Airport

There will be worms. And sunflowers.

Changi -Sunflower garden

Earth Day is coming up – and to spread the word about their green initiatives, the Food & Shops at LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B, JetBlue Airways and The Port Authority of NY & NJ are hosting a “Choose Green” event on Thursday afternoon with a hands-on composting worm exhibit, courtesy of the Queens Botanical Garden.

Not into worms? There will be coloring and face painting for kids and, for adults who say they’ll “Choose Green,” a chance to enter into a drawing to win two JetBlue tickets and get a free sunflower growing kit.

Not traveling through New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Thursday between noon and 4 pm? You can enter the contest on Twitter. More details here:

Earth Day at your airport

Traveling on a fuel-gobbling airplane on Earth Day?

Don’t worry – you can still be green on the ground at many airports.

 

Boston Logan International Airport is reminding travelers that is has added GobiCab, a fuel-saving, taxi cab ride-sharing app (for iPhones) to the eco-friendly transportation options listed on its website.

 

BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport is celebrating by christening eight new electric car charging stations.

Wichita Mid-Continent and several other airports will be holding earth day fairs at their terminals

San Francisco International Airport is having a little Twitter contest.

If you tweet to @flySFO between 8 a.m. PDT and 8 p.m. PDT with ideas on how to reduce your environmental foot print when traveling, you may win one of the recycled SFO banner luggage tags they’re giving away.

And Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport kicks off its First Annual Garden Show on Friday, with displays from four area organizations: Openlands, Trees That Feed Foundation, The Conservation Foundation and the Chicago Botanic Garden.  Look for the green beyond the security checkpoints in Terminal 3, between concourses H/K and L through May 13.

 

(Flower photos courtesy Robin Carlson, Chicago Botanic Garden)

Lots of garbage at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

I prepared for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day by spending the afternoon with garbage at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).

First up:  an exhibit featuring  artwork by Dorothy Rissman made from trash she found on city streets, construction sites and beaches.

Dorothy Rissman - Snack Pack Dress

Dorothy Rissman - Reflector ball

Next: an introduction to the airport’s six pair of shiny new, computer-monitored trash compactors, set out for use by airlines.

(courtesy Sea-Tac Airport)

Sea-Tac Airport is incredibly enthusiastic about reducing waste and has won awards for the amount of trash it recycles and the wide range of things it recycles. For example, unsold food goes to food banks; spent cooking grease becomes bio-diesel fuel; and organic waste – including tons of coffee grounds, of course – gets composted.

Now the airport is turning its eco-eye on all the garbage that arrives on airplanes.

Instead of letting each airline take care of its own garbage, the airport bought a dozen computer-monitored giant compactors (six for trash; six for garbage) so that it can coordinate and monitor airplane trash.   Airlines that separate magazines, newspapers, soda cans and other recyclable items can get rid of that stuff for free.  And if they do a good job of helping the airport keep trash out of the landfills, airlines can get credit to help lower their annual bill.

Happy Earth Day!