Excited as I was for the upcoming inspirational trip to LA I was conscious of how I was going to keep up my low impact 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 and relying on convenience pit stops. I was also conscious that my colleagues were going to get to know the real me a bit better and be subjected to my consumer habits and dinning behaviour, much like first date nerves!
To make this a little easier I started with the pack list. 1 refillable stainless steel water flask, solid shampoo and condition bar and 2 canvas shopper bags.
Flying business class is the ultimate luxury and I certainly wasn’t complaining throughout the 11 hour flight. 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 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.
The public transport set up in LA is not so great and as a result we rented a car for the three days. Most attractions and shops are really spread out and you see very few people walking or cycling.
Hotels are a nasty business when it comes to environmental issues and many try their best to reduce their impact on the environment. Chamber maid was my first ever job and It is forever imbedded in my memory just how un-environmentally friendly the turn around after an overnight stay can be. My practice involves the usual hanging up of the towels to avoid them being unnecessary refreshed, taking only what I really need from the toiletries (not fleecing the room for anything thats not nailed to the ground!) Unless I really need it, to avoid unnecessary waste I simply hang the Do Not Disturb sign on the door each day. If you want to avoid waste request that house keeping not refresh your towels, leave daily newspapers or fill the fruit bowl if you are not interested to use these things. Sometimes however, if I am travelling in a poverty stricken region I do fleece the room for fruit and toiletries, bag it and pass it to someone in need.
To start my day of shopping I asked the waiter at breakfast to refill my water flask before setting off, took half my ginormous breakfast to go, which I admit later I did not finish! (very wasteful, finger waging in disapproval). 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 cafes 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).
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 cafes avoided single use disposable plastic and my only regret was forgetting my thermos to avoid the paper cup (more finger waging), I did as always however avoid the plastic lid!
All in all it was a great trip and very inspirational for both design and a more laid-back, reduced consumption sustainable lifestyle.