One Flight Attendant’s Letter to Travelers Around World

How many planes are there in the air right now serving meals and drinks? Thousands! It’s overwhelming. Majority of meals and drinks are served on plastic dishes. You may think that this plastic will be recycled. The inconvenient truth is that most of the recyclables are not recycled due to time, manpower and space constraints. This is one flight attendant’s public letter to us, travelers.

Attention! New date for the World Cleanup Day 2018 is 15th of September (ed: 22.02.2017)!

We received a touching message from Bao Yen, a flight attendant from Taiwan. We think it’s worth reading!, caring and sharing!

Bao Yen, a flight attendant with a big heart. Photo: Private collection

Bao Yen wrote us after seeing an article in the Telegraph: “Whale found dying off coast of Norway with 30 plastic bags in its stomach”. She asks everyone to share it:

“The above news was about a whale found dying with 30 plastic bags in its stomach… As a flight attendant, traveling on a plane has a somewhat different meaning than simply going on a happy journey like most holidaymakers do. Every flight, I witness a massive amount of waste being made. Plastic, along with other recyclables, almost always ends up in landfills,” Bao wrote us.

“For a mid-and-long range flight (over 9-hours flying), at least two drinks (cocktail and juice) and two meals are served (this may be different among airlines). Each passenger in Economy class consumes approximately four plastic cups, to say the least. And that does not include the extra drinks they ask,” she continued.

One flight – 1000 plastic cups and 500 water bottles

Bao described the scale: “For 777-ER and Airbus aircraft, there are close to 300 seats in Economy cabin. To use a simple calculation, there are estimated over 1000 plastic cups and 500 water bottles being consumed each flight. The airline I work for has close to 100 mid-and-long range flights inbound to and outbound from Hong Kong each day.”

“You may be wondering what happen to those recyclables. While some airlines do recycle, the inconvenience truth is most of the recyclables are not recycled due to time, manpower and space constraints. What’s worse, while we do at our homeport, it is simply not the case at other ports,” she admitted.

“Recycling is costly and time-consuming, which conflicts with the nature of aviation business that put speed and efficiency as their top priority. If you leave the bottles behind with the hope that they’d be recycled, you will be utterly disappointed. Most of them end up in landfills or as the news indicated, in the stomach of the precious ocean mammals,” she explained.

“Sad, huh? I can be so depressed doing each and every flight thinking about the poor whales,” wrote Bao.

Nevertheless, talking about the problems will not change the harsh reality. Only actions will make a real and profound change. The questions is, how can we be a responsible traveler?

Luckily, Bao knows 3 simple acts that help a lot

1. Bring your own water bottles and tumblers when you travel. There are many trendy, easy-to-carry reusable and collapsible cups available in the market. By bringing your own cup, you can save as many as four cups on a flight that might end up in landfills or in the ocean.

2. Reuse. Even if you forget about bringing your own bottles, REUSE the ones in the flight. Cabin crew, under a premium service concept, will replace your cup with a new one once you finish off your drink. Save the cup and reuse it. To do more, bring it down and put in the recycle bin yourself. That is the ONLY and ULTIMATE way to make sure it is properly disposed of.

3. Share. Lastly, SHARE this article and bring a real change in every possible way. Everyone one of us matters in saving our one and only planet and another whale from dying because of the ocean waste.

Bao also likes to thank you all in advance and we really want to thank her fro writing to us and caring so much.