NYC & plastic

Part 2: How to avoid plastic on a long-distance flight

Before I could enjoy this view there was a serious obstacle...

Before I could enjoy this view I had to face a serious obstacle…

You just can’t! A lot of people asked me what I did on my flight from Frankfurt to JFK. Did I bring my own food? Did I refuse the airline’s pre-packaged food and drinks? Well, the answer to both questions is: Nope. On the contrary, I probably enjoyed my most plastic-filled day in 2013. This wasn’t because I thought I’d better throw my eco-consciousness overboard when I got on the plane, it was more because I was confused and helpless. Or lazy. Or therefore useless.

My dilemma: I thought that if I refused the food, the airline would just throw it out anyway. And that wouldn’t help anyone. On top of that a long-distance flight is one of the few occasions where I feel like a whole bunch of porcelain (instead of plastic boxes) might not be the best alternative. That’s why I decided not to take my own food with me and refuse the airline’s food. So I took and unpacked an army of tiny little plastic boxes and felt guilty for about 7,5 hours (That’s how long the flight takes).

I found one way to at least lessen the extend of the up-in-the-air-plastic-orgy: Re-use the plastic cups they give you. And the flight attendants definitely appreciate that. At one stage a passenger sitting behind me asked for a new cup and the flight attendant even asked him to re-use it telling him: “I’m sorry, but we produce so much trash. Please re-use your cup.” I was baffled and didn’t feel all that bad anymore. There is awareness. So I congratulated her and I can only hope other airlines or flight attendants will follow her example. What I realized: Next time I could just bring my own refillable cup and check out the reactions that will follow.

Lesson learned: Just because I do one bad thing (flying) doesn’t mean I can’t try to lessen the impact of another thing (my plastic consumption). Once again: Every little helps (I think this is the slogan of a supermarket. But try to ignore that, I’ve got nothing to do with it :-).

Next week: A more exciting topic than this!

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