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Airlines Join Greater Movement to “Toss the Straws”

Airlines join hotels and other tourism industry segments in committing to combat use of plastics

September 12, 2019

Alaska Airlines is the latest US carrier to commit to environmental preservation by encouraging passengers and crew to “fill before they fly.” The #Fillbeforeyoufly initiative takes aim at single-use plastic onboard and encourages flyers to bring their own water bottle and fill it before they board (note: many airline attendants will refuse to fill bottles for passengers onboard).

The measure is one of Alaska Airlines’ sustainability efforts to reduce inflight waste per passenger going to landfills by 70% by 2020.

Plastic bottles are among the top five most common items found in beach cleanups around the world, and according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, by 2025, the ocean is expected to contain one metric ton of plastic for every three metric tons of fish.

Alaska Airlines is partnering with environmental leaders Lonely Whale, MiiR and Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), and with Sea-Tac International Airport, a partner in sustainability from new building construction to daily operations.

The airline will plant a tree for every passenger who brings a pre-filled water bottle onto their flight and posts a photo to social media tagging @AlaskaAir with the hashtag #FillBeforeYouFly.

In 2018, Alaska Airlines became the first airline to replace single-use plastic stir straws and citrus picks.

Since that time, United, American and Delta also joined in with their own sustainability policies and actions.

United Airlines, for example, is replacing disposable plastic drink stirrers that double as straws and picks with bamboo versions in all of its cabins on the 4,600 flights a day is operates. Alaska Airlines is also using bamboo.

Starbucks, Walt Disney Company and Ikea have all vowed to ban plastic straws over the next few years, and hotel chains, such as Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) are switching to bulk-size bathroom amenities in guest rooms.