This month plastic bags were banned under Queensland legislation. Now there has been a fair bit of controversy surrounding the move. There’s been confusion it seems. Anger at check-out staff who have no control over the rules imposed by the government or their employers. And there has no doubt been the odd disgruntled customer carrying their goods home stacked ‘Leaning Tower of Pisa style’. Sometimes change can be challenging. However, the reality is, this is a great move! Did the law makers get it 100% right, will be see an overwhelming change in people’s habits and the effect we have on the environment. At this stage it’s hard to tell with all the hype going on. One thing is for sure though, any change that reduces our impact on the environment is a good thing. And the change that has been made is not a big thing, it’s a simple, easy to adopt practice. Take your own bags when you do your shopping.
If every person changes their habits just oh-so-slightly, those slight changes all pool together to make much bigger change. This bag ban might take some of us time to get used to, but before we know it, taking our own bags will be second nature. It’ll be second nature like when we switched from Imperial to Metric. Or when seatbelts became compulsory. It seemed like a big deal at the time, but we all survived and it, whatever ‘it’ was, became second nature.
When it comes to ditching the plastic bag, at Fun Over Fifty we’re a bit ahead of the Queensland government. In 2017 we launched our own biodegradable carry bags. Every guest receives one with their travel documentation (which is all printed on recycled paper by the way) and is encouraged to use it whilst travelling with us (and of course when they’re not). It’s a great sight to see, our guests using their bags for shopping, for packing their swim wear, for carrying things to the coach, carrying that extra layer when it’s getting cold…. the list goes on. Our bags have a hundred and one uses, and they’re making a big difference. We’re seeing a substantial reduction in the amount of plastic bags on tour, and in particular the number of plastic bags going into rubbish bins. Our ‘little’ initiative is making a big difference.
So in keeping with realising that every little helps – what are the other small changes we can make when travelling to reduce our impact on the environment and take care of this amazing planet of ours?
1) Take your own drink bottle from home. Re-fill it, re-use it, wash it, and re-use it again. There really is no need to be buying any bottled water when travelling in Australia. Drinking water is plentiful and free. At Fun Over Fifty we’re actively encouraging our guests to bring their own drinking bottle (that’s our nice way of saying we’re actively discouraging guests from using throw away plastic bottles onboard). To make it easier for everyone, our coaches are equipped with water tanks that are filled daily with fresh H2O. We’ve even gone as far as supplying ice to keep everyone cool and hydrated!
2) If you’re partial to picking up a coffee here there and everywhere, why not bring your own reusable takeaway cup and ask cafe’s to fill it for you? And when dining out, please say no to straws – if you don’t put a straw in your water at home, don’t do it when you travel.
3) Treat your hotel like your home – turn off the lights, air conditioning and TV when you’re not using them, and especially when you’re not in the room. Don’t stand under the shower for hours or run the tap unnecessarily. Hang your towels up so they don’t get washed each day – chances are you don’t wash your towel every day at home. Bring your own soap, shampoo and conditioner rather than using the little packaged ones. If you do have to use that little soap or shampoo, take it with you to use at home or at your next hotel so it doesn’t end up thrown away and wasted. Look for recycling bins at the hotel, don’t just lump everything into that little bin in the bathroom.
4) Buy locally made food and souvenirs wherever you are. You’ll be supporting local producers and cutting down on transportation costs and impact.
5) Don’t collect maps or brochures. Use them at the attraction, try not to fold them back up the wrong way, then return them to the display shelf for the next person to use.
6) When getting around cities, walk, ride or use public transport instead of hiring a car or calling a taxi. You’ll see so much more and your impact will be so much less.
7) If you’re planning on taking a tour, choose a green tour company. All the little things ethical tour operators are doing to reduce their carbon footprint, will in turn be reducing your carbon footprint. You can read more about what Fun Over Fifty is doing here. Want to hear how good we are from someone else? To celebrate Earth Day 2017, David Koch (of Sunrise fame) named on his business blog the top 10 sustainable small businesses across all industries nationwide. Fun Over Fifty was named as number 7 – now that’s not bad! Maybe you’ll come travel with us?
Of course, a lot of these practices can be transferred into our everyday lives once you return home. Maybe the green practices you adopt whilst away can become routine habits and a way to look after the planet for generations to come.