The Power of Asking

Liz Knowles

Looking at my travels from a sustainability perspective, I am struck by how many times I should have just asked. It is not in my nature—and maybe not in yours?—to ask for things that aren’t already on offer. Maybe, like me, you were brought up with a sense that asking for too much (or too often) is impolite. Frankly, sometimes it is just uncomfortable to ask for what you need.

But when it comes to sustainability, I don’t think we have the luxury of time. So I have started asking questions. I have started asking for what I prefer. And I have started asking for more.

In your travels, consider asking:

  • for recyclable containers

  • for tap water instead of bottled water

  • where the recycling bins are

  • why there are no recycling bins

  • hotels for a real coffee cup to use in the room instead of a disposable one

  • for water on the plane in your own bottle rather than a plastic cup

  • restaurants for where they source their food

  • for real silverware instead of plastic

  • airport management about their recycling practices

  • airplane staff about their company’s recycling practices

  • airplane staff about their opinion of their company’s recycling practices

  • other passengers about their willingness and desire to make sustainable choices while traveling

This list is just a start. The power of asking is not in simply getting a result. The power is in the response, the willingness to listen and learn, the desire to trace causes and seek solutions, and the increased awareness of both parties, on both sides of the question.