Skift Take

Everywhere you look in travel, you see it. It touches every end of the travel experience. And that's not good. So why wouldn't Skift focus on plastics as a core area of coverage? You're going to want to read these stories.

We at Skift have always been aggressively skeptical about travel companies that preach sustainability. In theory, sustainability is great, but the term is largely used as lip service and marketing pablum, while little progress is made.

Now the specific problem of plastics is peaking and demanding attention, not just from travel companies but from consumers. It’s time to hold everyone accountable while photos of beaches piled high with plastics, and videos of wildlife dying from ingesting them, fill our social media feeds. What role is travel playing in this morbid scenario?

The truth is travel companies love plastics. They’re durable, disposable, and easy to implement. But travelers love them just as much. They’re convenient, and travelers want nothing if not convenience when they’re on vacation or on the road for business.

Travel companies also love to talk about going green. Hotels, airlines, and cruise lines make pledges to reduce their reliance on plastics, but this is easier said than done. Travelers claim the same desire to go green, but what actually happens when you take their plastic water bottles away and start giving them paper straws? Is everyone ready for this behavioral shift?

So we are creating a unique and dynamic new editorial beat at Skift that looks at the role of plastics in travel — always with a critical eye on how all parties can do better.


We are calling our series of occasional stories Travel Beyond Plastics, and we will tap our global team to report on this increasingly important topic.

Our founder, Rafat Ali, recalls the exact moment when he realized that plastic was an absolute plague to human existence. On a quiet solo trip in the summer of 2010, he discovered an astonishing sight. There on the remote shores of the world’s largest freshwater lake, Baikal in northern Mongolia, he stumbled upon plastic bottles that had washed ashore. In one of the most remote corners of the world — plastics.

The idea that we could never live without plastics, an idea we accepted for so long, is now shifting. New York City is planning to ban plastic bags, and activism has moved from the oceans to our daily lives and rituals, including travel.

A traveling executive’s LinkedIn post caught our attention recently for the shocking amount of  plastic toiletries he had saved from his 100 nights in hotels over the past year.

The travel, restaurant, and wellness industries need to be doing more, and doing it faster.

If you like what we do here at Skift, you’ll want to read this coverage. And please let us know how we can do it better.


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Tags: climate change, plastics, single use plastics, travel beyond plastics

Photo credit: Plastic plays an enormous role in the travel industry. Jonathan Chng / Unsplash

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