Plastic garbage bags. Plastic straws. Plastic wrap. Plastic water bottles. For many, these are staples of everyday life. But the days of using single-use plastics are numbered and at Under Canvas we are on a drive to eliminate our use of them at all our locations this year.
Yes, single-use plastics are on their way out at Under Canvas. Is it easy? No. But it’s a challenge we’re excited to take on.
Plastic materials, in theory, should meet one of three waste management fates: they should be recycled, incinerated, or sent to the landfill. At Under Canvas we proudly host plastic recycling stations for guest utilization, though we are often limited on the types of plastic that we can accept due to local restrictions. So what happens to the non-recyclable plastic that guests bring to Under Canvas? Or what happens to some of the non-recyclable, single-use plastics that Under Canvas still uses? These plastics end up in the landfill.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency nearly 19% of all municipal solid waste sent to the landfill in 2015 was plastic. Once landfilled, scientists estimate that it takes hundreds of years for plastics to decompose. These plastics can leach chemicals that are harmful to local groundwater resources. With plastic production in the first two decades of the 21st century already topping the total produced in the entire 20th century, more land for landfills is needed to handle the waste build-up.
Even more alarming is that a colossal amount of plastic waste ends up in the ocean. Once in the ocean, plastics get swept into worldwide currents, do not completely degrade, and alter the chemical and biological spheres. The pictures you’ve seen are real – seals wrapped in plastic netting, a turtle with a plastic straw inches up its nose, bellies of dead sea mammals and birds full of plastic.
And so, at Under Canvas we’re doing something about this plastic problem by saying “No!” to single use plastic. We’re taking action to make sure our company is thinking globally but acting locally. We do this by taking incremental steps to make sure each Under Canvas camp is void of single-use plastics. Each Under Canvas camp provides complimentary water stations for refillable water bottles. We also partner with S’well and Boxed Water for those who came empty handed.
In our retail shops we continue to work with current vendors to eliminate plastic packaging. In our restaurants we are moving away from using plastic wrap. Where Under Canvas staff members need to use disposable gloves, we will purchase a non-petroleum based product. And those typical plastic garbage bags – we’re currently exploring the idea of using none at all or purchasing a plant-based alternative.
Will you help us? Will you consider joining us in our efforts to reduce consumption of single-use plastics? In today’s world, we understand that total avoidance of plastic is exceptionally challenging. But progress towards eliminating the use of single-use plastics is realistic. With your help we will see less plastic at Under Canvas, and in the years to come, we’ll all experience a better world in which to be #OutsideTogether.