18 May

Opinion: Play your part in picking up plastic

The Big Holiday Beach Clean is not only a great cause but can be a lot of fun as well, says Nikki White, Head of Destinations and Sustainability at ABTA.

This year’s Make Holidays Greener campaign is a fantastic opportunity for travel staff, destinations and consumers to take part in a local clean-up and play an active, practical role in supporting sustainable tourism.

The Travel Foundation has done a great job developing the campaign, which is held each summer and takes place this year in July.

The theme for 2015 – reducing plastic waste – builds on last year’s Big Holiday Beach Clean, which saw volunteers collect 600 bags of rubbish from 97 beaches around the world.

I am also very pleased that this year ABTA's Travelife is partnering with the Travel Foundation to promote Travelife hotels to customers around the world.

Packet in

Cigarette ends, cans, crisp packets and, most damaging of all, any kind of plastic, are an unpleasant sight on beaches. This rubbish is not just ugly but can cause immense damage to the fragile ecosystem of the shoreline and even pollute the food we eat and water we drink.

The aim of this year’s campaign is not just to clean beaches but also to encourage people to think about how they can reduce the rubbish they create, particularly plastic waste.

The campaign’s online toolkit provides free and simple materials for clean-up organisers, hoteliers and travel industry supporters.

This is a great way to involve them in day-to-day sustainability and to encourage people to think about sustainability in terms of solutions, not problems.

None of this denies the immense amount of time, effort and money spent by destinations and suppliers on maintaining clean beaches, but the scale of the problem is so massive we all need to think about what we can do to help prevent the rubbish in the first place.

Do your bit

So why not get a team together to work on your local beach or local area – how about a local park, river or canal? Register the event on the MHG website.

Let the media in your area know – it’s a great story. Talk to your colleagues, suppliers and local community, and don’t forget to tell your customers about it too. It’s all about working together to make a real difference.

Here at Abta we may not be by the sea but we are by the Thames, and an ABTA team will be doing our bit to clean up our local shoreline. So get involved.

It’s not only a great cause but it can be a lot of fun as well. For more information, go to makeholidaysgreener.org.uk.

This article appeared in Travel Weekly on 15 May 2015.