In 2017, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) made a public commitment to address issues related to women in leadership and indigenous peoples in tourism. We accomplished a lot on both fronts with the support of our business community, and we remain supportive of both of these initiatives in 2018 — these are not causes “du jour.”
However, we felt the need to address another issue to tackle this year. It is simply this: We want to see a reduction in disposable plastic, specifically starting with single-use water bottles but also working on reducing the use of straws, bags, and similar items.
Why? Because the problem has become acute in many places around the globe: the Great Pacific plastic gyre and numerous studies of sea animals and birds choking, starving, and dying because of a society that continues to churn out endless tons of wasted plastic.
We decided to start with ourselves — our own team — so we could be fully aligned with the greater industry mission and understand where the challenges are personally. Many of the ATTA team members were already avoiding single-use water bottles, but many of us took this to the next level through a partnership with GRAYL, and we are now using filtered bottles in hotel rooms and elsewhere around the world. Many of us also started using reusable bags for produce in grocery stores in addition to the standard reusable bags for all groceries. Plastic straws were another target area for us, and, overall, our team found that reduction and elimination were somewhat simple to achieve.
At the Adventure Travel World Summit in Salta, Argentina, we made a public commitment to this front that impacted many of the delegates. One particularly powerful story came from Andrew Gilchrist from Lost World Adventures, who was summoned by a powerful beverage company to conduct a day of focus groups. The company had pulled in multiple “experience” providers to better understand how to sell more bottled water to consumers. He was able to share the ATTA’s commitment as well as his own and say that, with all due respect, his company was doing everything they could to end their customers’ purchase of single-use bottles. The executives present were understanding and respectful. It’s not a secret anymore: Waste plastic is a major scourge!
Over the next year we hope to work with many different companies and groups, including Travelers Against Plastic (TAP), to better understand the problem and then start to solve it.
Our goal isn’t to blame and shame, but rather to encourage progress. The ATTA, as an organization that puts on events in many different destinations, know how difficult and pervasive the problem is. Our goal is to educate and provide as wide of a variety of tools as possible to help reduce waste.
We have just launched a questionnaire for our community to understand where the industry currently stands so we can measure against the results in the future. We’d love to hear your opinion.
We hope you’ll join us on this journey!