Travel insights from Taylor Coulson, contributing editor of The Compass

Skip the Straw: The Travel Industry’s Green Movement

Until recently, single-use plastic straws were available almost anywhere you visited; over 170 million were used a day. Restaurants, resorts, bars, national parks and cruise ships had them on deck, ready to sip and swirl. Straws are convenient, but not sustainable since they don’t disappear like your drink does, but actually exist for up to 200 years as pollutants in the ocean.

The travel industry’s eco-friendly efforts enhance everyone’s experience. Here are the ways a few hotels, resorts and cruise lines are contributing to a greener earth by continuing to #skipthestraw.


Plastic straw usage was completely eliminated across seven luxury resort brands ever since Aug. 28, 2018. Rather than serving drinks with plastic straws, all 55 AMResorts properties offer biodegradable options upon request. The unmatched all-inclusive resort experience remains intact while protecting their beaches and oceans in the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico. It’s that easy.

Sandos Hotels and Resorts

Single-use plastic was eliminated from all 19 of the brand’s resorts on Nov. 1, 2018 and paper straws are available instead. In fact, Sandos even has a resort that truly embodies sustainability: Sandos Caracol Eco Resort. Nestled amidst the lush Mexican jungle, this all-natural and all-inclusive resort exposes travelers to stunning, natural experiences. Swim in the Jade River, trek or pedal through the jungle on an eco-tour or plant a tree at the resort; the natural activities for all ages never end.

Marriott International

Plastic straws were removed from 60 of the Marriott International hotels in the U.K. in Feb. 2018. Then in mid-July 2018, their promise was extended to all 6,500 Marriott hotels around the world. Beyond plastic straws, plastic drink stirrers were removed and 1,500 North American hotels replaced plastic shampoo bottles with wall-mounted dispensers. Their reliance on plastics has been diminishing ever since these changes and as of July 2019, they’re expected to be 100% plastic free!

Celebrity Cruises

Longer-lasting fluorescent and Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights throughout Celebrity Cruises’ fleet are replacing higher wattage halogen and incandescent light bulbs. So 80% less energy is being used, 50% less heat is generated and more efficient air conditioning from the cooler bulbs is the outcome. Plus, with glazed energy-efficient windows that prevent solar heat from entering, less air conditioning is needed. The water-reduction technology and appliances reduce aboard reduce using water-producing equipment that requires fuel or electricity.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ships sail with an Environmental Officer (EO) so everyone that wants to be environmentally educated can do so. NCL builds their global sustainability program, Sail & Sustain, with water conservation management, waste mitigation and fuel and energy efficiency. Wasted Heat Recovery (WHR) is another successful program aboard that recovers the engine’s heat and transfers it into freshwater piping which saves fuel and improves water production.

Royal Caribbean Cruises

Royal Caribbean dedicates a majority of their responsibility to the oceans, the very essence of their business. Their ships are built and retrofitted to operate efficiently and they repurpose 100% of all cargo-associated and operational waste. For 20 years, Save the Waves has been their commitment to environmental stewardship that focuses on waste management, social responsibility and sustainability.

Have you had #thelaststraw when it comes to plastic or eco-friendly expectations? Comment below with your helpful sustainable tips and tricks.

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