Sustainable tourism and hospitality are of growing importance, and we interviewed a few Simpleview employees who are taking part in the “Plastic Free July” challenge that coincides with the global movement involving millions of people around the globe to raise awareness for the cause of being more thoughtful about plastic use.
“Changing behavior is hard, and I applaud those who are challenging themselves for such a good cause,” said Cara Frank, chief of staff at Simpleview. “As a company, we’re committed to diversity, inclusion, belonging, and sustainability, and this is just one of the many ways we show our commitment.”
What motivated you to be part of the Plastic Free July Challenge?
Briley: This is something I've been trying to do, but I've really started to dive in during the pandemic. Being a part of this challenge has made me try some new things and expand on my efforts even more.
Kelli: I've been trying to reduce my plastic use little by little over the past couple of years. Plastic Free July gives me the opportunity to reset what I've already put into practice and be more aware of my plastic use.
Kasey: I have always taken the idea of sustainability to heart because of my passion for thrift shopping. I wanted to participate in a Plastic Free July to promote thrifting and make it more popular; if more people knew of the environmental resources they are sparing by purchasing used items, they would be motivated to shop at thrift stores more often.
What have you started or stopped doing for the challenge, and on a scale of 1-10, how hard has it been?
Briley: Before this challenge, I've been tackling alternatives for the kitchen, like reducing paper towels, Ziploc baggies, plastic wrap, etc., and household cleaners where you throw away the bottle, where now I'm actually making my own cleaning solutions. For this challenge, I've been focusing on groceries (using my reusable grocery and produce bags again), reducing take-out packaging by reducing the number of times we order take-out, and personal-use items, like trying out shampoo and lotion bars vs bottles. It's been about a 3 (with 1 being easy and 10 being difficult).
Kelli: For the challenge, I have mostly just re-focused on things I've already put in place for myself. I'm paying more attention to when and where plastic is being brought into my life and thinking of alternative options. I'm also just being more on top of remembering things like bringing my reusable straws with me when I leave the house. On a scale of 1-10, it's been about a 9! Basically, if you leave your house, there is almost no way to be 100% plastic-free in the world we live in.
Kasey: For the challenge, I eliminated the use of plastic cups and straws by ordering my iced coffees and teas in my own reusable cups (thrift shopping and iced coffee go hand-in-hand). It’s been relatively intuitive and easy — keeping a clean tumbler in my car for on-the-go drinks makes it so I never forget to use it.
What’s been the toughest thing about it?
Briley: My ongoing challenge has been adjusting to the habits at home. This just brings on a new way of doing things, so it's a bit of a process. The second thing that really threw me off this month was traveling. The hotel did not have a water refill station, so I was drinking 2-3 bottles of water per day. There was also a lot of food and snacks in single-use plastic containers and wrappers.
Kelli: The toughest thing about it is my habit of getting take-out food. So many of my favorite restaurants use so much plastic in their take-out packaging.
Kasey: The toughest thing about doing Plastic Free July was avoiding the plastic that comes with purchases outside of thrift stores. It is true that you cannot always find everything you need at a resale store — sometimes you need something ASAP, or you need to purchase something brand new and in great, long-lasting condition. These items almost always have plastic included in their packaging, so it is imperative to recycle accordingly.
After July, what lasting changes — if any — do you think you’ll make to reduce your use of plastic?
Briley: I'll probably continue to look for areas where I can find alternatives to using plastic and using more eco-friendly products and cleaners.
Kelli: Since I've already put into practice many things to reduce my plastic use, I will continue to do those, like using my bar shampoo & conditioner instead of bottled. And buying concentrated cleaners for use in reusable glass containers. I'll also continue to look for other ways and opportunities to use less plastic in my daily life.
Kasey: Thrifting positively affects the environment more than most people think; not only does resale shopping reduce chemical pollution induced by creating and buying new clothes, but it also preserves water and plastic supplies. For this reason, reducing plastic is a lasting change I will continue to pursue via thrift shopping, especially because most resale stores don’t use plastic grocery bags for your treasures.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to support sustainability?
Briley: What's really worked for me is focusing on one thing at a time. For example, I didn't like that we were using Ziploc bags each day for bringing lunch to work, so I looked for reusable sandwich bags.
Kelli: “My advice for anyone who wants to support sustainability is to remember that you don't have to be 100% plastic-free to make a difference. Every little bit counts. Make the switch to reusable water bottles and say no to straws at restaurants. Just some little adjustments can go a long way!
Kasey: Begin by checking resale stores and thrift shops for anything you need before you log into Amazon to have it delivered to your door. Imagine the amount of cardboard boxes you will save by eliminating these deliveries! Buying used items is not only good for the environment — supporting local businesses creates jobs and boosts your local economy as well.
Destinations around the world are taking action to make sure their communities are good stewards by enacting laws about packaging and plastic. Maine and Oregon are two recent examples. And when it comes to ocean waste and littered beaches, here are a few facts to inspire action:
- At least 8 million tons of plastic end up in oceans every year, and plastic makes up 80% of all marine debris. That’s the equivalent of a garbage truck of plastic entering the sea every single minute
- It takes centuries to break down, so you’re doing a favor for future generations if you can reduce how much you use.