Why design agency, Social Ink, partnered with City to Sea

As part of the #PlasticFreetravel campaign, Gareth who is Head of Content at Social INK – a digital marketing and social media marketing consultancy,  tells us why tackling plastic pollution is important and why Social Ink wanted to partner with City to Sea in this guest blog.

Here’s the thing. Beach holidays in the Mediterranean are great. Guaranteed sun. Delicious cuisine. A nightlife and day temperature that make siestas compulsory. Sun. Sea. Heads buried in the sand?

You see, with all these wonderful distractions, it’s easy to forget the impact our travel is having on the environment we seek out to enjoy. Once we’re in ‘holiday mode’ it becomes easier to neglect the responsibilities we are committed to in our normal daily lives.

‘No drinking on a school night’, quickly becomes, drinking throughout the day and well into the night. Because “we’re on holiday”. We eat out every meal. We move a lot less. We enjoy too much sun. We buy water in plastic bottles. Why not? It’s way cheaper than back home. We do things differently because we’re on holiday. Our standards slide. It’s a treat. It’s fine. It’s convenient.

But some of the things we do, when everyone does them, have a compounding ripple effect that contributes to a much larger problem. Plastic waste is filling up the seas, breaking down into microscopic particles and washing up on the beaches we choose to visit on our holidays. The Med sees a 40% spike in marine litter every year because of tourists.

Everyone at Social INK felt we needed to do something to help ‘raise the bar’ on attitudes to travel.

Stop. Collaborate. And Listen.

It all started with winning the #PlasticFreeTravel brief that City to Sea ran with One Minute Briefs on Twitter. Reducing the amount of plastic, we use is a cause close to our hearts, so it was a brief we were keen to get involved with. And it’s an inspiring topic: almost everyone takes a holiday over the summer. Have you considered how much plastic you use when you’re not at home?

In response to the brief, we devised the ‘Raise the Bar’ concept. An advert designed to champion soap bars. Soap bars existed long before plastic-bottled liquid soap, doing exactly the same job at a fraction of the environmental impact. Not only did it make sense to make the humble bar of soap the ‘face’ of plastic-free travel, but we felt it also served as a reminder of small changes we could all make at home to reduce the impact of plastic waste on the environment.

The concept really resonated with the team at City to Sea, and on social media with our own network and the One Minute Briefs community.

The Social INK #PlasticFreeTravel Campaign

To show our support of City to Sea’s #PlasticFreeTravel campaign, we created a series of four concepts in the style of our original One Minute Briefs winning ad, as well as some GIFs for good measure — everyone likes a good GIF on social media!

Keep an eye out for these concepts across City to Sea’s social media channels as well as Social INK’s. If you check the #PlasticFreeTravel streams, leave a message. Tell us, City to Sea, and the wider world how you’re planning to travel plastic-free. Share pics of your plastic-free efforts. And encourage others to do the same.

There are a few competitions where you get a chance to win a #PlasticFreeTravel starter kit, too!

A special thanks at this point needs to also go to designer and fellow One Minute Brief particiapnt, Rich Bayley who came up with the “SPF 12.7” idea used above. 

Every small change. Every little effort. Every conscious decision to bypass plastic helps reduce the impact we’re having on our environment, giving us a better chance of completely cleaning up our act.

Are you ready to raise the bar?

Read more about how you can get involved with the #PlasticFreeTravel campaign here.

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Press Release: Welcoming the removal of mini toiletries from Holiday Inn hotels.

The plastic pollution campaigning organisation, City to Sea, are today celebrating the news that all hotels run by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) will remove mini toiletries from their rooms. The move will see hotels chains such as Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels taking the small single-use plastic bottles out of its 843,000 rooms by 2021.

The news comes following the launch of City to Sea’s #PlasticFreeTravel campaign that seeks to make plastic-free travel easier and cheaper for holiday goers and includes working with hotels to encourage them to use refillable dispensers in bathrooms. Plastic pollution from holidays is a major issue with an estimated 40% surge in marine litter entering the Mediterranean during the summer months. Further research estimates that 980 tonnes of mini-plastic shampoo bottles are being dumped by British holidaymakers abroad each year – that’s equivalent to two-and-a-half Boeing 747s.

Responding to the news City to Sea founder Natalie Fee commented,

“This is fantastic news. Holiday Inn has taken a huge step in reducing their plastic footprint and in doing so are sending a message to the hotel industry that removing single-use plastic toiletries is a good business move as well as a sound environmental one. Concern for the environment is at an all-time high, with plastic pollution being top of the list, so they needed to take action to keep customers happy.”

She continued, “The pressure is really mounting now for those hotels who still give out these tiny bottles of shampoo. We’ve been working with hotel chains like Premier Inn who already have dispensers in their bathrooms, Marriott Hotels announced last year they were getting rid of them, and now we have Holiday Inn on board too. Any hotels that still using single-use miniatures need to catch up and get behind our plastic-free travel campaign.”

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Plastic Free Transport Hubs

Plastic-Free Travel on the go

Do you want to depart from plastic pollution this summer?

We know travel is one of the biggest barriers to us using reusable bottles and refilling on the go. Almost half of us that regularly carry a reusable water bottle say we are most likely to buy plastic bottled water when at the airport and 36% said the same thing about train stations.

This summer travel hubs from train stations to airports are helping you stay hydrated and prevent plastic pollution when you’re travelling. City to Sea is working with transport hubs like airports and train stations as part of our #PlasticFreeTravel Campaign.

#PlasticFreeTravel taking off at airports

We are delighted to have Heathrow – Europe’s busiest airport and the UK’s largest – signed up as an official partner.  The scale and potential for saving plastic from ending up as plastic pollution by working with Heathrow is huge.  If every passenger in Heathrow departures lounge refilled a bottle instead of buying a single-use plastic bottle, Heathrow could reduce its plastic bottle consumption by over 35 million bottles a year!


We have worked with Heathrow to install over 100 water fountains across the airport. They are signposted and located near toilets for anyone to fill up their water bottles. We’re working with Heathrow to make sure all these fountains can be found on our Refill app!

Not only this, but we’re also engaging with their many cafes, restaurants and lounges to encourage them to be listed on the app and proudly showing the Refill sticker where possible. Anywhere in Heathrow, if you’ve got the bottle, you can Refill it.

But there is still more (much more) to be done.  Raising awareness that you can take an empty bottle through airport security and, usually, refill it at the other end. And we are working with Heathrow to improve their signage and communications to make sure that all Refill points – and drainage points – are clearly signposted.

During our #PlasticFreeTravel campaign this summer we are reaching out to airports up and down the country looking to challenge them to pledge to help their passengers cut out plastics. Simply we are asking airports to:

  1. Provide an empty sink before security, so passengers can empty their water bottles before goign through.
  2. Promote the fact that reusable bottles can be taken through security, through avenues such as signage before security, and working with ticketing and travel companies to prompt passengers to pack their reusable water bottle at the same time as reminding them to check-in online.
  3. Install water fountains or hydration stations around the terminals where passengers can easily and quickly find free drinking water.

To this end, City to Sea will be hosting a roundtable event alongside the Airport Operators Association and the Department for Transport, providing a best practice guidance so all airports can find out how easy it is to roll out the Refill Campaign. The rountable will be held on the 10th September 2019.

This summer, if you do fly (we strongly encourage you not to!) then make sure your water bottle is the first thing you pack into your hand luggage.

Reducing plastic waste at train stations is on track

City to Sea is working with Network Rail to have fountains installed in 19 of Britain’s largest railway stations, which have already saved the equivalent of over a million plastic bottles.

We’re pretty excited about this. And as Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said, “This is a great start and shows that passengers share our passion to reduce single-use plastic…I’m pleased to say we’re making it even easier for people using our stations to refill their bottles too.”

And that’s the name of the game here – making it easy for you (yes you!) to travel with less plastic. With Pret, Starbucks, Costa and so many more high street brands now signed up to Refill there is always going to be a Refill point close by major train stations.

Sadly, not quite full steam ahead

Although a few train operating companies are looking into this, water refills are still not available on any train – so if it’s a long journey I’m afraid you’ll have to pack all the water you need to stay away from plastic bottles.  So, remember to Refill at the station before you leave.

#PlasticFreeTravel campaign

Our #PlasticFreeTravel campaign this summer is demanding every station in the top 100 to have a place to Refill your water bottles and have these logged on the Refill app by April 2020. This is why City to Sea has partnered with Sustain (Sugarsmart campaign) to put together the Drinking Water Fountains ‘How To’ guide, which is the first comprehensive guidance of its kind specifically for the UK.

In addition, we’re challenging a UK Train Operating Company to be the first to offer easily accessible, free tap water refills on board a train. Watch this space and all aboard the #PlasticFreeTravel #RefillRevolution!

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