As an airline, Virgin Australia is completely committed to reducing its environmental footprint and ‘going green’.
But you’d be mistaken for thinking their enviro successes of late are thanks alone to a top-down approach. The stories behind many of their recent planet-saving achievements connect back to incredible team member volunteers – environmental crusaders who are taking sustainability best-practice into their own hands. One such employee is Roxy Emberg, a member Virgin Australia’s Perth based cabin crew.
We recently spoke to Roxy about the company’s Sustainability Ambassador Programme, about how it’s impacting the lives of employees and customers, and about what role the program’s initiatives are having on reducing the environmental impact of Virgin Australia’s operations.
I first discovered the programme after seeing a lapel pin on a supervisor’s blazer. I asked them, “Hey, what’s that pin for?” they explained it was for the Sustainability Programme and proceeded to tell me all about the steps to get involved. Instantly I was thinking okay, great, this is me to a tee!
I have always been passionate about the environment, particularly the ocean. I saw this as an opportunity to channel this passion into my role, and inspire people to become more mindful of their on-board waste. I’m sick of plastic bottles, juice boxes and newspapers ending up in landfill or the ocean – there are better ways to manage waste and they’re not hard to implement.
I understand that it’s not easy to expose people to new ideas and change their lifelong habits, but I’m also a firm believer that every positive action does count. Personally, I keep bamboo cutlery in my work bag, have keep-cups everywhere, and carry stainless steel straws in my handbag. Once you get used to it, it’s like “How did I not do this before?!” I find these such easy alternatives and want to help people make small changes that matter.
As cabin crew, we are finding that time and time again customers are pleasantly surprised to know that for such a big company we are genuinely making an effort to be more sustainable. On longer flights, we make announcements asking guests to hold on to their water cups for refills throughout the flight. If guests do reuse their cup for water, I thank them, and they usually smile and say it’s not a problem. Again, small changes to lifelong habits can have a big impact!
One of the most pleasing things about this programme has been the depth of involvement and commitment by Virgin Australia. I continue to discover more and more programmess and areas that the company is constantly working on and improving. For example, we have an incredible relationship with OzHarvest and donate a lot of unused food to them (which is awesome!).
We recently removed plastic straws from our aircraft and lounge operations, and will be using only paper straws in our lounges and in-flight. We have also replaced plastic stirrers with bamboo stirrers. This equates to almost eight million plastic items being removed across our operations on a yearly basis! I’m very proud to work for an airline that looks for opportunities to make a difference.
I hope that more and more people take on a greener approach to everything they do, both when travelling with Virgin Australia, and in their every day lives. Just being more mindful about reusing cutlery, cups, straws, or simply just bringing your own, can save hundreds if not thousands of forks and cups every year. We all share this beautiful house we have called earth! We need to keep it beautiful!
- This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details.