Excited as I was for the upcoming inspirational trip to LA I was conscious of how I was going to maintain my reduced waste lifestyle approach. Not only would I be clocking up the 5745 air miles to my carbon footprint but I would be living in a hotel and on the go all day, relying on convenience foods and coffees. I was also conscious that my colleagues were going to get to know me a bit better and be subjected to my consumer habits and dinning behaviour. To make this a little easier I started with the pack list.
- Stainless steel water flask
- Keep cup
- Solid shampoo and conditioner bar
- Canvas shopper bags
Flying business class is the ultimate luxury and I certainly wasn’t complaining throughout the 11 hour flight, but I was acutely aware of the carbon ratio between flying business and economy. According to studies, business class passengers occupy 2 or 3 times the space of economy class passengers on average (Bofinger and Strand 2013). I am not so sure how airlines are recycling their waste after a flight but there certainly is a whole lot of packaging involved, I have contacted AirBerlin through their sustainability forum looking for information on the waste process but pardon the pun, it was all a bit ‘up in the air’. According to their website anyway AirBerlin has an average fuel consumption of just 3.3 litres per 100 passenger kilometres flown, making the airline more eco-efficient than any other European network carrier.
Remaining on the topic of travel and mobility, the public transport set up in LA is not so great and as a result we needed to rent a car for the three days. Most attractions and shops are really spread out due to how LA was developed and you see very few people walking or cycling. On separate LA trip where I was my own boss and could plan my own day, I would drive to one neighbourhood and settle there for the day rather than driving all over the city. 6am breakfasts on that trip always started on the beach naturally ❤
The hotel industry, for the most part, is nasty business when it comes to environmental responsibility and wasting resources. Being a Chambermaid was my first ever job and it is forever embedded in my memory just how environmentally unfriendly the turnaround processes of an overnight stay can be. My practice involves the usual hanging up of the towels to avoid them being unnecessary refreshed and not bothering with any of the tiny toiletries (I bring everything that I need for the bathroom). Unless I really need it, to avoid unnecessary waste (water to wash sheets, bin liners, fresh soap) I simply hang the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door each day. If you want to avoid waste request that Housekeeping not refresh your towels, leave daily newspapers or fill the fruit bowl if you are not interested to use these things.
To start my day of shopping I asked the waiter at breakfast to refill my water flask before setting off and took half of my ginormous breakfast to go, which I admit later I did not finish. From that morning onwards, I learnt to enquire about portion sizes before ordering, and if they could offer me a half portion I asked that they just reduce it at the same cost anyway so as not to waste food unnecessarily (I might usually just split large portions with friends but I didn’t really fancy asking the Boss to go splitsies). I noticed something in LA compared to Europe, of all the times we sat to have a meal, not one restaurant put down a plastic bottle in front of us, in fact we didn’t have to ask or pay for water, we were simply offered free glass bottled water. Another unrelated observation was that most cafés did not offer WIFI, encouraging customers to chill out a bit and socialise (one chef cut the free WIFI after being fed up with his customers being distracted by Pokémon Go).
Each day I took a canvas bag for clothes shopping and avoided any extra unnecessary packaging. The general attitude in LA is really quite chilled and many companies practice low impact production in a quiet and humble sort of way. We found so many brands using recycled fabrics, local manufacturing downtown, up-cycled products and wares and recyclable or compostable packaging. Most cafés avoided single-use disposable plastic and were really obliging about using a keep cup.
All in all, it was a great trip and very inspirational for both design and to get a taste of a more laid-back, reduced consumption, sustainable lifestyle; minus the fossil fuel loaded travel miles of course…