Creating Tomorrow: get onboard with sustainable travel choices

Worm food T-shirt from Vollebak


Reducing plastic waste for sustainable travel

By the time you read this, I’ll be on a plane on my way to Tel Aviv for a last-of-the-year injection of sun and to celebrate my (shh!) 40th birthday.

On Wednesday, I received an email from Virgin Atlantic nudging me to pre-order my meal, with the suggestion that I’d be helping them “be more sustainable by saving on food waste”. It was that prompt, rather than the one pointing out I might have “dinner envy” if I didn’t, that actually made me click on the link and submit my veggie tagine choice.

I’m a big fan of the micro-nudge to change consumer behaviour, although we’ve got a long way to go to make our travelling choices more sustainable.

If flying wasn’t bad enough for the environment, a recent study found that each of us on a long-haul flight generates around 500 grams of single-use plastic. Virgin might be prompting us to choose our meals to cut down on food waste, but that’s an awful lot of packaging going into landfill.

Enter PriestmanGoode, a design studio which has reimagined all the bits that get thrown away after a flight, from your meal tray through to the cutlery and the dinky little pots used for milk. In the process, a tray from coffee grounds, a coconut-wood spork (a spoon and fork in one, for those of you who didn’t grow up camping) and banana leaf lids for salads were created. The end result is so beautiful it belongs in an Architectural Digest kitchen shoot rather than on an economy class tray table.

While we wait for an airline to adopt the concept, everything is available to view at the Get Onboard: Reduce. Reuse. Rethink exhibition at the Design Museum in London (until February 9, 2020).

You don’t need to be running an airline to be inspired by this approach. Brands on our radar at WGSN doing interesting and creative things in this space include Vollebak, with its algae T-shirt, which uses pulped eucalyptus and sustainably grown beech in its fabric and powdered algae as a dye. At the end of the tee’s lifestyle, it’ll completely biodegrade if buried or composted, hence the tagline “part T-shirt, part worm food”.

Now that’s what I call progress.

Reusable cottonbuds from Last Swab


On my shelf: product of the week

A hat-tip to the UK’s Stylist magazine, who introduced me to reusable cotton bud Last Swab. In the week that Scotland brought in a government ban on single-use plastic cotton buds, there’s never been a better time to switch yours out for one of Last Swab’s versions.

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