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February 1, 2022

Choose to Reuse

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In celebration of the Bags of Ethics retail installation of reusable homewares designed by RIXO in collaboration with the British Fashion Council in Backyard through February. Smruti Sriram, from Bags of Ethics shares her tips on how to travel in a more reusable way.

Bags of ethics coffee cups

Discover the Bags of Ethics retail installation of stylish reusable homewares in the Backyard this February 2022. It is the first pop-up shop of the Great British Designer Choose to Reuse collection in collaboration with British Fashion Council, womenswear designer brand, Rixo, with proceeds supporting the Queen’s Green Canopy tree planting initiative.

In celebration of the collaboration, Smruti Sriram, from Bags of Ethics by Supreme Creations shares her tips on how to travel in a more reusable way.

Travel for me has evolved to become a guilty pleasure. For all the enrichment one gets from a cultural visit, exploration of a natural wonder, or just a much-needed pampering session, there comes a cost to the environment. Is it just me, or do you feel guilty when they liberally dole out see-through plastic bags at airport security? Or when you see a mountain of towels and bed linen pile up on a hotel laundry trolley which hasn’t been used? Or when food is wasted after meals (on planes, trains, hotel breakfasts)?

I still don’t know what my exact carbon footprint is per journey I take on a plane (why don’t they tell you that when you book?). I don’t know what happens to all those packets of salt, pepper, sugar, milk which haven’t been used – health and safety probably means they are thrown away…Then there’s the miniature sized bottles of shampoo, soaps, and other nice-smelling liquids, pastes, and creams, which are overly packaged and thrown away after a few uses - or worse still not even used as they are not below 100ml (cabin-friendly).

The guilt is real. But so is the positive fuel for the soul that travel gives. So, over the years, I have developed a few ways to reduce some of my single-use behavoiur which inevitably arises whilst travelling. Convenience and disposable are often paired together, but don’t need to be. To be clear, none of the following tips are a panacea to climate change issues, but they are incremental steps to becoming more conscious of our ways, and perhaps can put some pressure on changing the way the travel industry operates.

BOOK A PLACE TO STAY THAT WORKS HARD TO WORK WITH NATURE

Eco-tourism is on the rise, and there are many good places to stay which have taken brilliant steps towards reducing their waste when it comes to your stay.

I was thrilled to see when I visited Treehouse London, that all the rooms are filled with glass carafes of water. You can then take these and fill them up at re-fill stations on every floor of the hotel. The shampoo, soaps, and conditioners all come in permanently fixed bottles which are refilled – the thrill of taking home hotel bottles of soap is so in the past. There is also a cool app to reduce the paper trail of the hotel and its guests, which has access to maps, activities, and food. What I love is that the hotel is draped with living plants in every corner, with a positively spectacular canopy in “The Nest” on the 16th floor. For a central London hotel your dose of oxygen and desire to enjoy some greenery is certainly fulfilled.

TAKE YOUR OWN REUSABLES

In your luggage pack a reusable bottle, reusable bag, reusable coffee cup, a couple of Tupperware, your own version of a see-through bag (wash bags which are see-through are widely available, and have been airport security friendly for me). I also bring with me laundry bags so that I don’t need to use the plastic ones which are in some hotels. You might also want to take some of our own home cutlery or ask your hotel or B&B to give you some for the day – inevitably there will be a pit-stop for a snack, and if you are in the grab-and-go mood, why not say no to the disposable cutlery. The dining experience will be greatly improved… I’ve never enjoyed eating from plastic or wooden cutlery.

DO A SMALL GROCERY SHOP AT YOUR DESTINATION

I find doing a small store purchase of fruit, or food in one go is better than resorting to pre-packaged, uncertain-what-I-might-get-when-out snacks. Stick it in your reusable bag, or little box, and you are good for the day.

BEAUTY REFILLS

I’ve invested in some good refillable bottles (stainless steel ones are light to carry) which can hold my home shampoos, soaps etc. I don’t often like changing my wash routine, so instead of buying the travel minis or using hotel ones, I decant my liquids into these refillable bottles, and my routine remains unchanged. This often helps me feel more at home when on business trips - it’s amazing the level of comfort this can give.

SEND THE RIGHT SIGNALS

This should be fairly standard practice now, but say no to aeroplane food if you are not hungry (the number of wasted trays of food I’ve seen is eye-watering). Remember to put a sign up to tell the hotel cleaning team to not take your towels for washing on that day, or to keep your bed linen as is, as it’s been used for just a few hours. Say no to single-use masks if they are handed to you at airports, or shops – there are perfectly good reusable ones.

So, there you have it. 5 tips to being less wasteful on trips. I haven’t ventured into talking about other methods of being greener when travelling but there are plenty of ways to. My business Supreme Creations has worked with the global travel industry for many years, in helping guests and providers choose alternatives to single-use plastic. We love collaborating and innovating and have a lot of material to read further up on our website and social media on the critical issue of single-use plastic waste. By 2040 the amount of single-use plastic waste in our natural habitat will amount to the entire weight of fish in our seas, and oceans. We all must do our bit to reduce this, now.

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