Outside Business Journal

Editor’s Note: Let’s Reject Single-Use Plastic at the Next OR Show

Our industry makes real bottles. So let’s use them and reduce single-use containers at Outdoor Retailer. Join us in making The Plastic Impact Promise and commit to bringing your own personal drinking vessel to the next show

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As I sat in the audience of the Industry Breakfast at the most recent Outdoor Retailer Snow Show, my eyes kept drifting to the side of the stage. The esteemed panelists were discussing the Outdoor Business Climate Partnership, a new collaboration between Outdoor Industry Association, Snowsports Industries America, and National Ski Areas Association to unite against climate change.

But I couldn’t stop focusing on the ripped open, plastic-wrapped eight-pack of Evian bottles that sat unceremoniously on stage right. Two of those panelists had Evian bottles on the floor beneath their chairs. One was holding a paper Starbucks cup.

As I walked the show floor over the next few days, I started noticing a lot of single-use plastic. Too much. Way too much for an industry that’s working so hard to stop climate change and minimize our impact on the planet. During booth appointments, I was offered dozens of single-use bottles of water (some were even those ridiculous toddler-size, four-ounce bottles). At happy hours, I was offered beer in plastic (albeit compostable) cups, and at breakfast events, paper plates and plastic cutlery.

I started to feel guilty—for all of us—about the amount of disposable single-use products littering the show floor.

We have to do better. And in our daily lives, most of us do. But when we travel for work, it’s often easier to just grab what’s available, whether it’s a bottle of Fuji water or a 16-ounce latte at Starbucks in a paper cup.

We all know the evils of single-use plastic. Sure, we recycle that discarded plastic into jackets and sunglasses and T-shirts. But we use too much of them to begin with. Initiatives to reduce plastic—shopping bags, straws, bottles—are happening all over the globe. In Europe, several event planners are already starting to ban single use plastic trade shows and festivals.

Let’s do the same at our trade show.

Because shouldn’t Outdoor Retailer be the first plastic-free, zero waste trade show in the U.S.? We think it should. Let’s do it together one bottle at a time.

(Note: We reached out to Outdoor Retailer to ask about their plans to make OR a more sustainable show. At this time there are no plans to stop selling single-use plastic bottles at the show. They referred us to a November quote from Marisa Nicholson, vice president of the outdoor group: “We’re always looking for ways to reduce Outdoor Retailer’s environmental footprint…we are proud to be leaders on this front, developing initiatives and programs together with our sponsors, partners, and the Colorado Convention Center like recycling programs, water fill stations, and the use of compostable products. There’s always more that we can and will do and look forward to what we can achieve as an industry.” A spokesperson for OR also said: “As we get closer to Summer Market and have more details in place, we can definitely connect on a story around sustainability efforts at the shows.”)

Stay tuned for updates on The Plastic Impact Promise including a map of exhibitors who will be offering refill stations throughout the show and shout-outs to those of you who sign on.