The Plastic-Conscious Traveler

For those of you who’ve seen Bag It, remember the scene with Jeb driving through a fast food line? He tries to offer his own plate for the food to be served on, but is denied on the grounds of cross-contamination.

I was expecting a similar reaction when I brought my water bottle to the back of the plane on this weekend’s flight to New Zealand. Maybe I would have received that reaction had it been a US airline. Perhaps because it was Air New Zealand, the flight attendant didn’t even wait for me to ask.

“Would you like that filled?” he inquired, and almost before I could answer, he whisked it away.

This is the same airline that was recently showcased on the New Zealand’s television news channel because it washes and re-uses its plastic cutlery. The message board on the channel’s website is full of commendations of this practice.

I was happy to find it out too. Traveling is full of pitfalls for the eco – conscious person. First, there’s the ziploc bag rule, instituted by airport security. Because I will be traveling for at least four months through New Zealand and India studying yoga, I have quite a few products that need a container. I was lucky enough to find clear a plastic cosmetics case that can be used over and over.

Then there’s airport food. If you have a long layover, it can be a challenge to find actual dishes and cutlery. Luckily I had a short layover. But my flight was 13 hours. I would need to eat at some point, and we all know the nightmare of assorted plastic that appears on your tray at mealtimes.

I seem to remember that last time I flew United, everything was disposable. Does anyone else know if that’s the case? On Air New Zealand, there seemed to be single-use plastic only covering the tops of dishes, and sealing in the utensils and napkin. The amount of single-use plastic seemed pretty moderate, by traveling standards. I admit though, the orange juice was packaged in disposable plastic. I drank it and even requested a second one.

Single-use plastic seems to be a necessary evil of traveling. I think Air New Zealand does a pretty good job of keeping it under control. We’ll see, in six weeks, how Air China fairs on my flight to India. Please let us at Bag It know what you’ve observed on your travels and how you keep disposable plastic waste under control!


About bagitmovie

Bag It is a documentary film following the world wide use of plastic bags, plastic's impact on the environment and human health.
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2 Responses to The Plastic-Conscious Traveler

  1. Janice (Fritzie) Borgwardt says:

    How about bringing your own reused plastic silverware? would that throw homeland security into fits?

    I have been collecting a year’s worth of plastic items that cannot be recycled conventionally, and have filled a quarter of a large two-car garage with that used by just one person. It would otherwise likely be burned in a smelly garbage burner on the edge of downtown Minneapolis. I am also a film producer and journalist, and hope to go through the carefully cleaned mess piece by piece to see what can be done with it. Any interest in video from this nightmare of a project? Your documentary was fabulous! It’s what started my plastic recovery operation. But I think when people see how pervasively we have been trapped into using this fossil-fuel based material, seeing it bit by bit …they might wake up further. I am disappointed that your documentary is not available at Blockbuster or other main-stream outlets. I’ve also had a great deal of difficulty findiing “Inside Job.” The captains of industry must have checked them both out for good. Long live the Truth!

  2. April says:

    On domestic flights I have been told I can’t have my bottle refilled, so I stopped asking and I now just fill it at a drinking fountain or soda fountain after I get through security. I’ve notices that some airports now have a waterbotttle refill staff on some drinking fountains! I was very excited to see this and hope more airport will add it.

    As for food, I always just bring my own in reusable containers, such as wrap n mats or snack taxis.

    And I never bother putting my liquids in a ziploc bag and so far security has never said anything about it, but I never have much liquid anyway.

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