Too Much Trash Onboard
I’m a big fan of Patrick Smith’s “Ask a Pilot” column in Salon. Smith writes of travel from a commercial pilot’s perspective. Utilizing his sharp wit he educates and dispels rumors about the airline industry, and also shares stories of his personal travels from around the globe.
In a few recent columns Smith has addressed the issue of the quantity of garbage created on airline flights. Air travel has been targeted due to the pollution factor, and we’re told to be wary of our carbon output, and some airlines sell us carbon offsets to compensate our seat.
However this low consumption outlook doesn’t seem to be followed once on board. Meals are wrapped in two layers of plastic, and plasticware is handed out like candy at Halloween. As Smith notes: If I can drink juice straight out of a small container at home, why do I need a tiny cup to pour it into?
On a nine hour shy flight from Chicago to Amsterdam, (and back,) I watched as flight attendants made several rounds of trash pick ups, and each time handed out NEW cups not more than 30 minutes after collecting the old ones.
Meal elements seem to be parted from each other as if they’re in quarantine. Why not just bundle them together 1970s TV dinner style? FOUR different parts to this meal, and each get their own sealed plastic base and cover.
In economy class it might be understandable why you would give up a plastic cup, only to take another one 15 minutes later – and that’s because you simply have no space. But if your tray table is down or you have a free hand - why not just KEEP your empty cup for the next round of drinks?
What’s the point of buying a carbon offset if you’re going to blow through 10 sleeves of plastic and styrofoam cups every flight? As I’ve noted before: its silly to fret about the environment in the big picture if we ignore small easy things that have a direct and immediate action in the small picture.
Let’s make an effort to KEEP THAT CUP through the flight. We’ll help the environment, and save United a few pennies too. Or maybe UAL will read this and start charging a 20 cent cup fee.