Travel companies are reducing their plastic waste in earnest, but less progress has been made on implementing plastic alternatives, many of which are frustrating travelers. Companies have more work to do in identifying plastic alternatives that travelers will love to use, not just use out of environmental guilt.

“I don’t really love the texture [of bamboo], especially the spork,” said Jason DiVenere, a frequent flyer who spent much of his career as an aerospace engineer at Boeing and SpaceShipTwo from Virgin Galactic. “Sometimes they break in half. Then I have to use multiple sporks and that’s kind of wasteful.”

“Am I happy about using it? No, but I still use it because I know it’s better for the environment,” he said.

“Some people don’t really want to do ‘dishes’ while on vacation,” said one traveler on a Cruise Critic message board about the prospect of bringing their own metal straw on a cruise. “And using the same straw over and over without washing could get pretty yucky.”

“We had paper straws on my last cruise, and they are terrible — they do have a paper taste once they get damp,” said another respondent. One Carnival Cruise customer hated the ship’s edible and paper straws so much that he created lengthy video reviews of his bad experience, including that the edible straws break, collapse, and get sticky: “Biodegradable, sustainably sourced alternatives are good, but they have to work.”

Some travelers are so ambivalent about plastic alternatives that they wonder if they’re even worth pursuing. “Why are we creating a paper alternative? I get it’s biodegradable, but if we are getting rid of plastic straws, just get rid of all straws,” said Josselyn Thornton, social media strategist based in Portland, Oregon, for Sparkloft Media, whose clients include numerous airlines and tourism boards.

Once travel companies can provide new-and-improved plastic alternatives and communicate about them clearly, it’s up to travelers to do the work of adopting them.

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