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We are absolutely pleased to see and hear that Zero Gravity have embarked upon a number of initiatives to help protect our planet by making Zero Gravity an environmentally conscious business!

We got to chat to Zero Gravity’s Peter Skudutis about how they are making a difference and we are really inspired by their efforts! Here’s what Peter had to say:

As a successful business, we are sure that you have a number of initiatives and projects on the go. Why have you made Sustainability a priority above others?

We believe that every business should be prioritising the environment while delivering what they do. You only need to see the news coming out around the world these days to realise that our actions are negatively effecting the planet in many ways, from pollution to climate change to the depletion of environments and even the extinction of species.

Unfortunately, unless we are directly affected by climate change, for most it is too easy to ignore. For us, the beach is our business and the weather is our business. We are selling an experience where we are encouraging people to be outdoors by the pool and on the beach, as often as possible – and for people to have a good experience they need to be able to feel completely comfortable in the surroundings that we provide.

When we really started to look into the impact we have on the environment, we started to realise that our impact could be drastically reduced through some simple changes in how we do things. Through this process, we realised the unnecessary wastage that surrounds us every day – and how we could make a significant reduction in the waste produced by taking active steps towards a more efficient business.

When we launched We Love Our Beach,we made the mistake of thinking that our environmental crusade was a finite project that we would be able to celebrate as a success once complete. What we have now learned that this is an ongoing challenge where we will continually strive towards a more eco-focussed future for our business. We are learning more as we go and we welcome any feedback from the public in regards to what we do around sustainability. Already some of our customers and partners have provided us with some valuable feedback on how we can improve.

We also recognise that we have quite an influential voice in our industry and that presents us with both a responsibility to the local community as well as an opportunity to use that voice to help spread the message of sustainability and use it as an educational tool through the sharing of ideas and tips on how can all make a difference.

What changes have you made at Zero Gravity which supports this initiative?

We started with internal beach clean ups back in 2016. Our team and walked up and down JBR beach to ensure that it was well cared for and beautifully clean, not just for our own guests but for every person that uses the beach.

In 2017 we started ask questions about what impact we were having and looking for ways of reducing our impact on the environment.

One of our initial solutions was to offer complementary infused water at the entrance of Zero Gravity along with a little message to our guests explaining that we were offering free water in an effort to minimize our use of plastic bottles.

During the summer of 2018 we opened the Beach Clean Ups to like-minded volunteers and at the same time made a pledge to do everything possible to remove single use plastic from our operation. This pledge was the launch of our environmental campaign ‘We Love Our Beach’.

To date, our ‘We Love Our Beach’ campaign has implemented the following changes:

·        Replaced plastic straws with non-plastic and now paper straws

·        Introduced reusable plastic bottles for all staff and water filling stations

·        Started to phase out standard water filling stations to tap water filter systems

·        Replaced all disposable service items such as cutlery and plates to sustainable bamboo and paper solutions

·        Started a food wastage educational campaign to reduce portion sizes during brunches

·        Introduced a refillable one cup system during our Friday brunch to reduce wastage

·         Replaced our confetti with recycled, biodegradable flower petals

·        Banned inflatable clappers which used to be used at large events

     Banned all disposable balloons across the venue

·        Phased out plastic cups with a bamboo resin solution – made of 85% sustainable fast-growing bamboo products

·        Replaced our pens with 80% biodegradable cardboard options

·        Participated in Earth Day even during major night time events

·        Started the process of replacing all lights with low voltage led lights

·        Stopped the printing of flyers and replaced with electronic messaging in the venue

·        Regularly use our social media channels to promote positive actions that individuals can take towards

·        Regularly hold educational sessions with our team to provide a better understanding of the impact humans have on the environment and what that means for us all

·        Use our internal staff communication channels to encourage sharing of environmental content and initiatives with the team

·       The environment now makes up one of our key value pillars that we follow as a business

We are encouraged to see the recent Government announcement making it compulsory for all restaurants to offer filtered tap water to customers and look forward to seeing more and more similar initiatives introduced to the market in 2020.

zero gravity
Peter Skudutis

Have these changes affected your business in any way – positively or negatively?

When introducing any change to an organisation, there are both monetary cost considerations as well as time allocation considerations to keep in mind. This initiative becomes larger and larger the more we dig, so we need to ensure that we allocate sufficient resources in order to be effective in making these changes, but manage this at a level that does not place the core business at risk.

In saying this, what we have found is that many of the changes we introduce around single use plastic for example, are simply the reduction of packaging items and items such as straws and stirrers which actually reduce our expenditures by no longer purchasing such items.

Our biggest challenge to date however has been to find commercially viable alternatives to many of the plastic products we use. What we have found is that, due to the still low demand for these alternatives, the purchasing costs are significantly high. We then need to then try to justify a considerably higher expense without a considerable customer demand as yet. However, we understand the environment importance we continue to push through based on this justification.

One very positive outcome we have seen is an improved understanding of the impact both businesses and individuals have on the environment within our team. We are investing considerable time to educate our team, through use of our internal communication channels as well as activities like screening environmental documentaries with our team and the response has been very positive. At the beginning there was a sense of a lack of understanding why we were spending so much time discussing these issues, now I have team members proactively making suggestions and implementing positive changes which is great.

You regularly host Beach Clean Ups along JBR Beach, clearing the shoreline of rubbish, in particular plastics. What has the response been like?

The response to the regular Beach Clean Ups has been great. We as a team genuinely look forward to the experience of waking up early and strolling down the beach with a bunch of like-minded people. We get to kick off our shoes and watch the day awaken, while doing something really positive, and the people we meet while doing so share a sincere love for the environment which leaves us feeling positive after each event.

Each month, we see many regular faces, including volunteers from big companies like Emirates NBD, as well as some tourists who find the event online and take time out of their holiday to get involved.

dubai

How can the community get involved and join in on the Clean-ups?

The beach clean ups take place on the first Sunday of every month from 7:30-9:00am. Everyone is invited to attend and take part and they can either just turn up or email us at weloveourbeach@0-gravity.ae

Our invitation is open to all, and we encourage other business, particularly those in the hospitality industry, to get involved either via our program or to establish a program of their own. 

Do you have any further eco-friendly plans in store for Zero Gravity?

Yes of course, we have established a sustainability committee who meet every two weeks to discuss ways that we can make our business more environmentally friendly. The team is tasked with improving our activities around sustainability including the beach clean ups, our educational program as well as research, to find and implement new ways of reducing our impact on the environmental overall.

We are excited to be taking a strong lead around sustainability and we hope that others will take notice and make similar changes to their businesses and lives as a result.