YHA (England & Wales) is set to eradicate half a million single use plastic bottles from its 151-strong network of youth hostels next year thanks to support from Waitrose & Partners.
The leading youth charity has received a £170,000 share of the supermarket retailer’s £1 million grant fund – Plan Plastic – the Million Pound Challenge – which awards money to projects that demonstrate an impact to reduce plastic.
YHA currently uses 450,000 plastic bottles annually in packed lunches for school trips as well as selling a further 50,000 water bottles in its hostel cafes, bars and vending machines. School groups are now required to bring refillable water bottles with them when staying with hostels on school trips.
The grant will enable YHA to install free-to-use water bottle refill stations in 60 major youth hostels, fast tracking YHA’s plan to have refill stations at the majority of its youth hostels in England and Wales.
Last year, as part of the drive to reduce plastic waste across its network, YHA trialled water bottle refill stations at a small number of hostels. Following the award of the grant, water bottles will no longer be supplied in packed lunches from September this year and will cease to be sold in Youth Hostels by December 2020.
The new refill stations will be situated in the reception and high footfall areas of hostels and are free to use by both guests and visitors.
Commenting, James Blake Chief Executive of YHA (England & Wales) said: “We owe Waitrose & Partners huge thanks for the grant. It has enabled us to bring forward our ambitious plans to eradicate single use plastic bottles from the network.
“We are passionate about the great outdoors and preserving it for future generations to use and benefit from. YHA has a 90-year relationship with the great outdoors and we want to be at the forefront of eco-tourism – respecting the habitats we’re in and encouraging the thousands of young people and their families that stay with us each year to appreciate nature and wildlife.
“Minimising our carbon footprint is a key priority for us and this grant will significantly assist in our commitment to a sustainable environment.”
YHA’s Refill Scheme was one of five projects selected from 150 applications to receive a share of the fund which has been raised from the sale of 5p carrier bags prior to the retailer removing them from its shops.
The move to completely eradicate single use plastic bottles from the network is one of a number of green measures YHA has introduced since 2011 as part of its Green Spirit Plan in order to reduce its carbon footprint. Other, more recent initiatives include:
- ·The removal of plastic drinking straws and stirrers from all hostels, saving 100,000 units each year
- ·The installation of electric car charging points at National Office
- ·The replacement of paper towels with hand dryers in a number of hostels. At YHA Ambleside alone the hand dryer roll-out will save more than 476,000 individual paper towels from being used every year
- ·The installation of LED lighting at National Office in February 2019 has so far saved 7.5 tonnes of carbon (total of 22 tonnes per year)
- ·The replacement of the plastic YHA membership cards with cardboard cards
To discover where YHA has installed water refill stations to date, please visit https://www.yha.org.uk/food-drink/water-refilling-stations
About YHA (England and Wales)
As a leading youth charity, YHA’s purpose is to harness the transformative power of travel, adventure and discovery for young people. It seeks to create an environment that ensures those involved have equal opportunities to improve their physical and mental wellbeing and to improve their life skills.
YHA provides inspiring opportunities for young people with the principal belief that where you go changes who you become. More than a quarter of a million young people stay with YHA each year.
Operating more than 150 locations throughout England and Wales, YHA offers a unique range of affordable and accessible accommodation including Youth Hostels, camping and cabins in rural, coastal and city locations, often benefitting from spectacular buildings or scenery.
More than simply a provider of accommodation, YHA encourages people to get involved through staying in one of its locations, on a school trip, a summer camp, work experiences, volunteering, donating or taking part in one of YHA’s challenge events like the London Marathon.
YHA has 84 Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) accredited sites, more than any other provider. As part of its commitment to quality outdoor education, YHA is championing Learning Away’s #BrilliantResidentials campaign, encouraging more young people to experience residential school trips with an overnight stay.
In 2017 James Blake was appointed Chief Executive of YHA (England and Wales). He now leads the 89-year-old charity in making a measurably positive impact on the lives of young people and their families.
To help promote the work YHA does with young people, YHA has appointed a number of inspirational people as ambassadors, including young adventurer Alex Staniforth, Britain’s most famous mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington and the only Briton to have climbed all 14 8000m peaks Alan Hinkes OBE.
YHA’s focus on physical and mental health and wellbeing will guide its future work to develop new programmes and partnerships to touch the lives of more young people than ever before.
YHA’s Breaks Programmes aims to reach young people and families with the most challenging lives and provide them with life changing experiences. There are two categories under which those applying for support can apply:
- ·Family Breaks Support Programme - Offers support to children and their families experiencing exceptionally challenging lives, or who are facing a crisis or emergency situation and as a result of these situations are experiencing financial hardship on a daily basis. Families can access positive life changing experiences, creating memories that last a lifetime.
- ·Challenging Lives - Support for children and young people who have a disability or life-limiting medical or mental health condition, those with caring responsibilities, and those coping with bereavement - amongst other such challenges.
- ·YHA reached a record 1.5 million (1,585,220) young people.
- ·Nearly 100,000 (91,957) primary and secondary school children stayed on school trips with YHA (England and Wales).
- ·YHA’s life-changing residentials welcomed 3,311 schools and youth groups in 2017.
- ·Almost 800 young people, aged 10 -19, took part in YHA Summer Camps at flagship activity hostels.
- ·Last year, YHA welcomed 425,000 guests aged under 26.
- ·YHA recorded its fifth consecutive year of growth with a record number of 1.87 million overnight stays.
Throughout 2019 YHA is looking to further develop partnerships to support young people less likely to get time outdoors or residentials away from home. Building on its work to date, YHA will be holding a range of meetings with partners across Alternative Provision, Children in Care, Home Education and Disability to consider how it can support access to both YHA and outdoor adventure more widely.
A recent YHA survey showed that 67% of all guests feel that their wellbeing and enjoyment improved during their stay. This figure is even higher for guests staying in our countryside hostels: 85% of guests hostelling in the Lake District National Park stated an increase in wellbeing and enjoyment
Further information about YHA can be found at www.yha.org.uk