Flight-shamed holidaymakers are turning to beach cleans to get over their guilt about the environmental impact of flying, it is claimed.
In an effort to reduce the guilt felt by some passengers about the carbon footprint made travelling by plane, Thomas Cook has begun rolling out beach clean activities for their customers.
The global travel company has said 1,500 of its customers picked up a total of 25,000 items of rubbish from beaches across 16 hotels at their destinations this summer.
It has written to all 200 of its own-brand hotels to put on regular beach clean activities for guests next summer.
According to a 2018 WWF report, the amount of plastic litter going into the Mediterranean increases by 40% during the summer months.
Thomas Cook research indicates one-third of customers say spotting litter on a beach affects whether they return to a location, while two-in-five holidaymakers are more likely to choose activities which benefit the local community than they were 10 years ago.
Concern about emissions from flying sparked the flight shame movement, which has spread across Europe in recent months.
Many attribute it to the work of Swedish teen environmentalist Greta Thunberg, who sailed from Plymouth to New York on a zero-emissions yacht.
Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have come under fire for their use of private jets, whilst campaigning for climate change.
International Air Transport Association (IATA) boss Alexandre de Juniac has said flight shame is “part of the most serious threat to the aviation industry in Europe right now” and “is likely to spread to other parts of the world”.
The aviation industry has shown to be one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the European Commission.
Thomas Cook group corporate affairs director Alice Macandrew said: "Thanks to Greta Thunberg and other activists, as consumers we’re becoming much more aware of the impact that our behaviour is having on the planet.
“This awareness is now filtering into our holiday mindset, with more and more customers wanting to give something back to the destination they visit.
“The popularity of these initiatives show that customers are willing to clean a beach to clear their conscience, and we’re now looking to roll this out across our hotel portfolio.”
In November 2018, Thomas Cook committed to remove 70 million single-use plastic items from its operations in the UK, on its planes and at its own-brand hotels.
It has partnered with British design firm Wyatt and Jack to convert customers’ discarded plastic inflatables, lilos and children’s armbands into bags and holiday accessories.