Center Parcs – #MyPlasticFeedback response

You might have read my previous post about our trip to Center Parcs and the concerns I raised to them afterwards about the single use plastic mountain they’re creating with disposable washing up sponges and dish cloths.

I have had a response this week from them on the feedback I sent. They say that “the Center Parcs experience is built around enabling our guests to enjoy the natural environment and, therefore, we appreciate it is vital that we play our part in protecting it.” They are “in the process of phasing out” plastic straws in their Center Parcs owned outlets, which is better than nothing of course – however, there are a load of chain restaurants within the complexes which presumably are not included in this, who may well be doing their own thing (Starbucks, Cafe Rouge, Las Iguanas etc.), but may not. Are Center Parcs putting pressure on their partners too?

A trial is apparently underway at the Elveden village (nothing on the village news page about this though…) to reduce single use toiletry items – so awful I couldn’t even go there in my feedback really, as I couldn’t think of an alternative option if this provision is something that guests really want. It would be interesting to see what other hotels and holiday parks are doing on this – do we really need tiny bottles of rubbish shampoo everywhere we go?  

Onto the dish washing (my obsession, it seems). They do reuse the tea towels – praise the Lord! But the dishcloths are binned as “they haven’t found a dishcloth that can be cleaned adequately to the standards required”. Nothing said at all about the washing up sponges.

So anyway, I’ve replied, encouraging them to keep looking for reusable options, and invited the Sustainability Manager to get in touch with me for a further chat and to feature in the blog… This is of course a massive long shot, but who knows what could happen, this could in fact be my big break! One day I will wake up to 5000 followers and an advertising request from Ecover, I know it.

Meanwhile, I suggest we all nag the tourist venues we visit to try harder on this stuff. The more I think about it all, the more I’m sure it needs organisations to take the lead to make the big changes that are needed. So pester away, people, and let me know how you get on.

Everyday activism – does pester power work? #MyCenterParcsFeedback

Magnificent giant redwoods at Center Parcs, Longleat

Pester power is a thing, right? Children are manipulated by the media and advertising into wanting something, then pressurise their parents endlessly to get it, and they eventually give in. I seem to remember this being the reason you often can’t buy chocolate at supermarket tills anymore. I can’t imagine many toddlers tantrumming over batteries and ibuprofen these days.

The last episode of the BBC documentary War on Plastic invited viewers to “pester” retailers by returning unwanted plastic packaging to the supermarkets, and post on social media with the #OurPlasticFeedback tag. I’ve seen a lot of this shared on Twitter in the last week, with mainly the same generic responses from the supermarkets about what they’re doing to reduce plastic waste. Most worryingly is all the promises to make more of it recyclable – when we know that the UK recycling system is overwhelmed and dysfunctional, with large amounts of waste being sent to landfill anyway due to contamination or inappropriate items being put in the recycling, or sent overseas with no audit trail of whether it is actually recycled, burnt or put in landfill.

There’s a real feeling for me that none of the actions needed are happening fast enough, and we as consumers can’t do much about it – the sheer scale of the problem requires corporations to make the high-impact changes.

But a bit of pestering feels quite good, so I think we should keep at it, and highlight things as we come across them to put pressure on companies to get better at this stuff and be accountable for their environmental impact.

So anyway, we went to Center Parcs at Longleat last week with the small one and some members of the grandparental team. It was brilliant, we all had an amazing time – lovely site with some awesome trees, a lot of “splish splash” and we even managed a couple of date nights, with free babysitting. Thanks Grandad and Granny!

But this upset me a lot, especially as you all know I am obsessed with dishwashing.

One disposable washing up sponge per lodge for each stay x approx 800 lodges x 6 Center Parcs villages in the UK (not even thinking about the villages in Europe) x 97% occupancy over 52 weeks = something like 242,112 sponges used per year, ending up in landfill or incinerated. Not to mention the horrible thought that each dishcloth (made of grim microfibre polyester stuff) and tea towel might also be thrown away after each stay. So I’ve written to them and tweeted them to see if they have any plans to switch to reusable options. (Also heaped a ton of praise on the staff members we encountered, all of whom, without exception, were excellent).

I’ve also been hassling Greenwich Council about a local air pollution issue and their lack of action to address it, in writing and copied to my local MP and councillors. What has particularly irritated me is the Council’s declaration of a climate emergency and requests on Twitter for people to pledge to have a bonfire free summer for Clean Air Day, while ignoring local issues which flout air quality laws.

#greenwashing

Essentially, this whole climate situation is making me feel quite anxious and a bit angry that it’s so hard to make the right choices in the face of companies who won’t make changes quickly enough, for fear of impacting their bottom line. And it’s made me feel a bit better and a bit more in control to start complaining about stuff. I highly recommend it. I’m not convinced it will make any difference, but it’s got to be worth a try, right?