Home Publisher's Point of View Another Very Important Reason to Go Plastic Free

Another Very Important Reason to Go Plastic Free

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Glenn Hasek

I recently had the opportunity to interview Jeffery Smith, Vice President Sustainability for Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas. Click here in case you missed it. Six Senses made news this past week when it announced that it has become one of the first signatories of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, led by the UN Environment Programme and UN World Tourism Organization, in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. As a signatory of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, Six Senses furthers its commitment to eliminating and becoming plastic free in 2022.

I have built the case for going plastic free many times on Green Lodging News. Now there is another. Scientists reported this past week that they are among the first to examine micro- and nanoplastics in human organs and tissues. We already knew plastic fragments can get so small that they can be blown for hundreds of miles and be ingested by animals and humans. Now we know the tiny particles can embed themselves in our physical bodies.

“You can find plastics contaminating the environment at virtually every location on the globe, and in a few short decades, we’ve gone from seeing plastic as a wonderful benefit to considering it a threat,” says Charles Rolsky, Ph.D., who was involved with the work. “There’s evidence that plastic is making its way into our bodies, but very few studies have looked for it there. And at this point, we don’t know whether this plastic is just a nuisance or whether it represents a human health hazard.”

Proven Harm in Animals

Research in wildlife and animal models has linked micro- and nanoplastic exposure to infertility, inflammation and cancer, but health outcomes in people are currently unknown. Previous studies have shown that plastics can pass through the human gastrointestinal tract.

Without getting too complicated, tissue was donated by donors who provided detailed information on their lifestyle, diet, and occupational exposures.

“We never want to be alarmist, but it is concerning that these non-biodegradable materials that are present everywhere can enter and accumulate in human tissues, and we don’t know the possible health effects,” one of the researchers said.

I often see hotel companies build their cases for plastics reduction on waste reduction and/or carbon reduction alone. Sometimes I will see stories about the impact on sea life, the ocean, etc. It is time to start including the physical human health story as well. Your thoughts? I can be reached at greenlodgingnews@gmail.com.

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