28 Apr Eco-Friendly Inflight Swaps
With millions of people sheltering in place around the world with stay at home orders, the daily ebb and flow of life has come to a sudden halt. As headlines read, our waters and air have never been cleaner from the repercussions of this pandemic. It is surely a small silver lining to this scary time.
However, it is indeed a glimpse into a cleaner world.
This glimpse got me thinking, how can we collectively make concerted efforts onboard the planes we work to help aid in the efforts towards a cleaner world even after COVID-19?
The first thing I think of is how much single-use plastic and waste happens on any given flight. We have developed a “disposable” lifestyle and estimates are that around 50% of plastic is used just once and thrown away.
So I took a deep dive into researching what alternatives there are to products that we use inflight for service and amenities and what their eco-friendly alternatives may be.
If you think you’re too small to make a difference. Try sleeping with a mosquito in the room.
This post is divided into two sections, one being the galley and the items we use in this space, and the lavatory with items most normally found and used including amenities we typically offer our guests.
1. Trash Bags
First thing, if you are going to have recyclables such as plastic water bottles onboard, divide your trash bin with two liners, one for trash and one for recyclables.
Speaking of bin liners, did you know there are eco-friendly recyclable trash bags? (shame on me they are not pictured here).
2. Biodegradable Plates & Cutlery
Not only do CFAs serve the guests onboard but we also serve the pilots and sometimes that means reserving the fine china for the folks in the cabin and giving the guys and gals upfront some easy to clean plastic plates and cutlery [by easy to clean, I mean disposable]. Best swap is to replace plastic cutlery with bamboo or biodegradable utensils and plates.
3. Coffee Cups
Want to know what else CFAs are constantly handing up to the flight deck?
COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE!
If you work on a full time P91 account with the same pilots, I highly suggest in investing in these reusable Huskee coffee/tea thermos mugs. They come in 8oz and 12oz sizes which I love because they fit nicely under a Nespresso machine as opposed to a comparable larger Yeti.
They are dishwasher safe, BPA free, and made of 100% recyclable materials.
We don’t always have a ton of storage space in our cupboards and drawers on a private jet’s galley which is why these collapsible coffee cups are another great alternative.
Maybe you’re not on a P91 account with the same pilots, but can still choose a greener option than a plastic disposable coffee cup like these.
Remember the terrible video that went viral of the sea turtle with the plastic straw up its nose? I know, I know, its a horrific memory but plastic straws are pretty gnarly for the environment.
That being said too, I hate paper straws and how fast they get soggy. In fact, when a passenger asks for a straw, I jokingly give my guest two paper straws “one for now, and one for 10 minutes from now“.
Now I know there are tons of metal reusable straws on the market, and yes they’re a pain to clean. However, I have to admit I actually love these glass ones. Yes, you still have to clean them, BUT you can actually see the inside while you clean to make sure any potential smoothie bits are gone. Plus I think aesthetically they are way sleeker than the metal ones.
Glass bottles allows our guests to sip colder and more pure-tasting water, looks sleek and elegant, and is thicker and sturdier than plastic. Glass is also better for the planet: made from all-natural, sustainable raw materials, glass is 100% recyclable and can be reused endlessly.
6. Provision Stock Shopping Bags
We all go to Whole Foods or Target to shop for stock for our planes, fridge bag, and catering but what if we could avoid using paper or plastic bags at the checkout line? I love ChicoBags because they come with a pouch and a carabiner that makes it easy to clip on to my inflight tote so its always ready to go. Works great for leftover catering take-homes as well!
This also includes bringing your own bags for produce as well- I personally use these at the farmers market when I shop at home and not gonna lie, it makes me feel very Gwenyth Paltrow ” Goop”
7. Cling Wrap Replacement
I was skeptical on these Beeswax ones at first but I tried them out at home and they really do work and stick to whatever vessel you are looking to cover. I’ve heard they eventually need to be rewaxed but still work as an awesome alternative to Press n Seal.
Although these silicone stretch lids take up a bit more storage in the galley drawer, they’re super durable and spill proof. I love that you can use the XS size on a lemon or lime.
8. Food Saver Bags
Ziploc bags are quite possibly one of the most used single plastics in the galley. I started transitioning to silicone food saver bags when I use my Sous Vide and realized how awesome and multi-purpose they were.
The best silicone bag brand is Stasher. I can attest to them personally as I used these for all my leftovers in Culinary School. They come in multiple sizes and you can also cook in the microwave and oven up to 400 degrees!
They’re pricy but it’s because they are amazing quality and have so much versatility.
9. Tea Infuser
Canadian researchers published a study in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Environmental Science and Technology which found that steeping a single plastic tea bag at brewing temperature releases about 11.6 billion minuscule particles known as “microplastics” and 3.1 billion “nanoplastics” into each cup.
So why is plastic in tea bags to begin with?
In order for the tea bags to seal up and keep their shape in hot liquid, a plastic polymer, namely polypropylene, must be added. Even though the amounts of plastic found in tea bags is minimal — and vary between manufacturers — it adds up to quite a bit when you look at the big picture.
Due to the plastic content, conventional tea bags cannot completely decompose. This makes them a bad option for compost material and the environment… not to mention your body!
So what are the alternatives? Switching to loose leaf tea.
I actually love the idea of loose leaf tea onboard as it does indeed seem more luxe and have a “High Tea” experience to it. Here are two options:
10. Catering Bento Box
Have you ever sourced catering from a hotel or restaurant? It helps to bring food containers as most dining establishments do not understand the size constraints of a private jet oven and microwave, and even more so they may not have take-away containers that are both microwave and oven safe.
If you offer to bring your own take-away containers for packaging, you are then in control and can eliminate one more step of re-packaging into a safe heating container that will fit in your chiller and oven.
These glass ones are both microwave and oven safe up to 450 degrees.
11. Hot Towels
Why are bamboo towels more eco-friendly than cotton? When it comes to choosing sustainable towels, it doesn’t get much better than bamboo. An eco-friendly choice, bamboo stalks can grow 3 to 4 feet per day — and they release 35 percent more oxygen into the air than other trees.
Bamboo is also 100% natural and biodegradable. Once you have no further use for a bamboo product you can rest easy, knowing that it will return to the Earth leaving minimal environmental impact! Plus they are crazy soft!
12. Re-usable “Paper” Towel
I have to admit, I go thru WAY too many paper towels in a given flight and apparently other CFA’s relate to this because a Flightess reader recommended these “Swedish Towels” which are abnormally absorbent. They take the place of sponges or paper towels for washing & drying dishes, cleaning counter galleys or spills. Also great for cleaning lavatory & galley counters, mirrors, and windows! Best part is that it is washable so you can send it with your linens or it can be washed in a dishwasher. Its also bio-degradable, so if it get’s on its last leg- don’t sweat it about throwing it way!
ALSO!! How cute is this pattern? so Italian Capri Lemon-vibey
13. Plate Squeegee
This tool came as a recommendation from one of the best FA’s I know!
We’re all aware that we have to be super mindful when washing dishes and not allowing any bits of food to go down the drain. Private Jets have the most sensitive drain lines and are keen on being easily clogged.
And how many paper towels do we use to “scrape” off leftovers or bits of food from the plates that return to our galley? I’ll answer, A TON!
This is our eco-friendly solution to keep our galley sink drain lines free and clear of food- maintenance guys around the world owe us a drink for this one!
1.Bamboo Cotton Buds
Like most single plastics, regular q-tips take decades to decompose. When I go in to deep clean and fine detail an aircraft, I go thru hundreds of q-tips to hit every nook and cranny (see below).
The least I can do moving forward is switch to a bio-degradable q-tip cotton bud that won’t end up in the ocean.
Take note of this not so fun fact: If we displayed the toothbrushes thrown away in the United States in a year, they would wrap around the Earth four times!
Plastic toothbrushes are made from polypropylene plastic (handle) and nylon (bristles), which are both sourced from non-renewable fossil fuels. They are essentially indestructible, which means that the first toothbrush we had when we were kids is still hanging around in some form, somewhere polluting Mother Earth.
Every year billions of plastic toothbrushes are thrown away. They are dumped into our oceans or end up in landfills, where they sit around for about 1000 years before finally breaking down.
Bamboo toothbrushes are an eco-friendly alternative, because bamboo is a natural plant, fully biodegradable, thus a renewable and sustainable resource. It is one of the fastest growing plants on the planet so we don’t need to worry about running out any time soon.
3. Eco-Friendly Make Up Wipes
“The biggest environmental problem with makeup remover wipes is the sheer volume,” says Diana Felton MD, state toxicologist with the Hawaii Department of Health.
One group estimates that 20 million pounds of single-use wipes (including baby wipes and disinfecting wipes) are disposed of every day in the U.S. Many wipes are disposed of in landfills, and despite claims to the contrary, most are not biodegradable and do not rapidly break down, creating too much trash to fit in our landfills.
The plastics used in the wipes can leech into our oceans and water sources, creating an ecological hazard. “The most popular makeup remover wipes are either made from or contain non-biodegradable plastic fibers such as polyester, polypropylene, rayon, etc.,”
Wipes contain chemicals such as phthalates, triclosan, and parabens, which are known to be endocrine disruptors, plus other ingredients like fragrances that can irritate the skin. In addition to being harmful to your own personal health, the accumulation of these ingredients builds up in the water systems and landfills and can create environmental damage.
Which is why, if you have power over your passenger amenities, you should swap out those Neutrogena wipes for these 100% Eco-Friendly and bio-degradable travel wipes.
4. Eco-Friendly Bamboo Toilet Paper
For starters, using toilet paper is bad for the environment because it is a single-use paper product. The environmental impact of toilet paper gets even worse when you look at how toilet paper is manufactured.
Toilet paper manufacturing is a shockingly wasteful process. There’s the old-growth forests that are cut down, the water wasted to clean and prepare the pulp, and the energy costs of manufacture and transportation. A variety of chemicals are also involved in the manufacturing process, contributing to toilet paper’s negative environmental impact. Chlorine bleaches the pulp white and makes toilet paper feel softer. It also severely pollutes local water sources.
Bamboo toilet paper an eco friendly alternative to tree based bath issue and is still safe to use on a private jet. It’s 100% biodegradable without sacrificing quality with bamboo fibers for strength and sugarcane fibers for softness.