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Plastic-free oceans start with a plastic-free office

Sabine Hansen Peck

SVP People, Culture, Communication & Brand, Amadeus

It all started with a conversation at our women’s network in Dubai on October 30th 2018. During my last visit to the Middle East, over sandwiches and an animated debate, the conversation moved from career impact to the impact we have beyond our professional lives, on our communities and environment. Inevitably, our glances shifted to the many water bottles in the room – all of them plastic.

An idea was born to do something about it! Many of us have seen the documentary Blue Planet II  skillfully narrated by David Attenborough, which helped to put plastic pollution on the global agenda. However, if we candidly look at our own conduct, sometimes we act as if our own behavior and those images are entirely unrelated. 

Fast-forward a few months later and we have launched “Green is the new Blue,” a company-wide environmental movement which includes all 19,000 Amadeus employees in over 190 countries around the globe. The movement consists of different company-wide environmental challenges linked to specific green topics: #plasticfree, #resourcewise, #greenonholiday and #zerowaste. Employees are encouraged to accept the challenge and share their experiences via our company-wide social media tool.

Our first challenge, #plasticfree, aims at reducing the amount of plastic we use both in the workplace and at home. Within the first week alone, we have seen colleagues enthusiastically share ideas and more importantly, putting many of those ideas into practice straight away! From the installation of composting bins in Sophia Antipolis to the removal of all plastic bottles, plastic straws and individual plastic-lined waste paper bins in Dubai and Madrid, to vending machines which only accept reusable mugs in Bangalore.  The list is long, the enthusiasm is inspiring – and truly contagious! Many employees have taken the challenge beyond the workplace and are involving their families. Home-made yoghurt recipes are being traded and we are discovering champions who accomplish an entire shopping trip completely plastic-free.

Today, we wholeheartedly celebrate the United Nation’s Environment Day, and we also believe that one day is hardly enough to raise awareness for this important subject. Beyond providing solutions to our customers to help them reduce fuel burn  and signing up to the UN’s Climate Neutral Now Pledge,  we are convinced that effective change will only result if both individual and institutional actions come together and move in the same direction.

Many small individual actions make a big difference. Often, we are unaware of our impact. We calculated that if each of our 19,000 employees uses just one plastic bottle per day for a year, all of those bottles put together cover a distance of over 1,560 kilometers or 969 miles. That’s further than from London to Florence, from Los Angeles to Portland, or Singapore to Bangkok! Now, what if each individual made one simple change, saying ‘no’ to one plastic bottle a day? That would already clear a lot of proverbial roads from plastic waste.

I am convinced that in the end, we all have a choice: to be part of the problem or part of the solution.

At Amadeus, we definitely want to be part of the solution, that’s why we are embarking on the challenge in making “Green the new Blue”.  I will be reporting back in October. Stay tuned for more to come!

Logo for Green is the new Blue

Tags

Office, Social Responsibility, Environmental Sustainability, Industry Relations, United Nations