One of the things that I really like about Alaska Airlines is its commitment to being a good public steward. They always seem to go the extra mile when it comes to social issues where they can make an impact. One of those areas is saving the environment.
Alaska Airlines have long been separating trash collection on board with trash in one back, recyclables in another. Their beverage stirring sticks are now made from bamboo. Members of Alaska’s Green Team, a group of employees devoted to education and innovation around environmental issues.
The New Focus
Their new focus is #FillBeforeYouFly – a new initiative encouraging guests and employees to bring their own water bottles and become active partners in the airline’s goal to reduce single-use plastics.
Alaska Airlines has partnered with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to plant a tree for every passenger who brings a prefilled water bottle on an Alaska flight and posts it to social media with the hashtag #FillBeforeYouFly.
I did not know that by policy, Alaska Airlines flight attendants can’t fill your personal water bottle during inflight beverage service. Focusing on prefilling your bottle makes a lot of sense. This policy is in effect to manage the onboard quantities of bottled water that are catered prior to departure. To assist passengers in filling their water bottles post-security, airports are making terminal maps showing water bottle filling locations. Here is the location map at Seattle Tacoma International Airport where you can fill your bottle:
Alaska Airlines’ Commitment to Sustainability
“This is so exciting to get guests involved because it takes everybody to make a difference,” says Kim Fisher, Alaska reservations call center specialist and co-leader of the Green Team. “It can be so overwhelming to think about the environment, but the truth is everything we do counts.”
“We’re passionate about working with our guests, employees, airports and partners to reduce waste, protect habitats and improve water health,” says Diana Birkett Rakow, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of external relations. Plastics are among the top items found during beach cleanups worldwide, environmental organizations report. “Land, water and animals are incredibly special parts of the places we live and fly,” she says. “If just 10% of us flying Alaska bring our own prefilled water bottles when we fly, it would save over 700,000 plastic water bottles and 4 million plastic cups per year. That’s a big lift.”
More on Alaska’s Conservation Efforts
The Fill Before Fly blog also details additional efforts to save the environment:
- In 2018, Alaska was the first major American airline to replace plastic straws and citrus picks on planes with marine-friendly alternatives. The effort, achieved in partnership with the environmental nonprofit Lonely Whale, eliminated 22 million pieces of inflight plastic waste each year. Lonely Whale is also a key partner in the #FillBeforeYouFly initiative, which aligns with Lonely Whale’s #HydrateLike campaign, popular on social media channels and inspiring individuals and companies to rethink reliance on single-use plastic bottles.
- Alaska also recently replaced bottled beer with aluminum cans, which are lighter and easier to recycle.
- In 2017, David Clarke, then a Horizon Air maintenance supervisor at Portland International Airport, found money in the budget to buy the Portland maintenance technicians their own personal water bottles and install three water fountains around the hangar and near the break room. The goal was to save the cost of buying pallets of plastic water bottles during hot summers, Clarke says – but the benefits multiplied: “Yes, it was an economic win by saving money,” he says. “It was also an environmental win in saving plastic. And a health win by encouraging people to drink more water.” Those water fountains, which have counters on them, have saved 176,621 water bottles so far just at the Portland hangar.
I am a regular flying on Alaska Airlines because of their outstanding service and frequent flyer program. It’s good to know this airline is so committed to saving our planet.