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Zero Waste Travel: How to Reduce Your Waste On The Go


Read time: 6mins


Being a sustainable traveler has never been more important in today's world that is, still, extremely wasteful. To honor the beautiful places we decide to visit, it is crucial to start paying attention to how our traveling habits impact the environment.

There are indeed many aspects involved in our traveling that can impact negatively the environment. Single-use plastic items are pilling up on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, destroying these beautiful nature spots and harming wildlife.

From the products we buy to how we choose to travel, we can decide now to improve our impact!

Lowering your waste while traveling is very much possible! But mindful travel doesn't happen by accident. It comes with intentions and preparation. We're here to help you make the most out of your traveling while reducing your waste and protecting the beautiful areas you're visiting!

The biggest impact on waste created by tourism tends to come more from hotels, airlines, and restaurants. If these areas can feel a little harder to influence, there are still some powerful ways individual travelers can make an impact. Let's start building zero-waste travel and lifestyle habits.

Quick Tip: If you’re overwhelmed by the ‘zero’ in zero waste travel, consider a simple reduction by choosing just one or two of the following tips. Ensure you’re choosing habits that you can actually sustain. Every single action matters! Don't wait to be the perfect zero-waster to start.

Start with a zero-waste toiletry bag

Putting together a zero-waste toiletry bag is quite easy. There are many zero-waste products out there, if you’re unsure of where to purchase then simply Google ‘zero waste stores near me’ - you’ll be surprised at how many there are!

Top 5 things you’ll need for your zero-waste toiletry bag:

- Solid Shampoo and Soap Bars

- Bamboo Toothbrush (with plastic-free bristles)

- Toothpaste Tablets (in plastic-free packaging)

- Safety Razor

- All-in-one Soap such as Dr. Bronner (this can be used on the body, for your dishes, and even laundry!)

Grab compostable cutlery and containers

For a lot of people travel often means takeout food and drinks. Often we don’t always have time to sit down and eat while traveling. Whilst you don’t want to skip the food altogether, you can pack your own sustainable containers and cutlery. This will drastically reduce the amount of trash you create. Say no to cutlery when ordering your takeout, and where possible choose the most sustainable restaurant you can find.

Check out our range of compostable utensils that you can easily pack to bring with you on your travels, you can even use them on the plane to avoid the single-use plastic options. Imagine if we all did this! That’s a ton of plastic trash avoided!

Bring your own reusable water bottle and coffee mug everywhere you go

Not only will doing this save you money, but you’ll be helping to reduce the overwhelming amount of plastic bottles being dumped in landfill each day. Roughly 1.3 billion plastic bottles are disposed of daily worldwide, this is an insane amount! Not to mention the health impacts of drinking your water from plastic bottles. Avoid both microplastic poisoning and trash levels by opting to bring your own metal or glass bottle with you. Most airports have their own drinking fountains now too! Check out Water At Airports to check out where you can refill your bottle.

Having your own travel coffee mug will also help you to reduce your waste. You can either make coffee at your AirBnB or hotel before leaving for the day or order it from your new favorite coffee shop and ask them to put it directly into your own cup.

If you didn't bring a cup with you, this is a great souvenir to get! Your new favorite coffee shop might have reusable mugs to purchase and you can keep using it at home when you come back!

Grab a travel-size metal straw

These foldable metal straws are ideal for traveling. You can easily keep them in your bag and have them with you everywhere you go so you’ll never need a plastic straw again! Check them out here.

Pack Odor-Resistant and Recycled Travel Clothes

Give your wardrobe a sustainable, waste-free upgrade. Choose clothing from brands that practice eco-friendly and sustainable production practices. Many brands are now creating clothing from plastic water bottles, and brands such as Patagonia practice ethical production with their products. Did you know that merino wool is actually compostable once your clothes reach their endpoint?

Opt for odor-resistant clothing to increase the wearability of your garments too, limiting clothes washes is a great way to reduce your environmental impact when traveling.

Pack re-useable or washable feminine hygiene products

If you're looking to swap plastic packaged tampons and pads, check out period underwear, menstrual cups, or washable pads. The average woman uses around 10,000 tampons in her lifetime! And most of these contain plastic applicators and microplastics in the material itself, so opting for sustainable alternatives will have a huge impact on the amount of plastic waste produced.

Digitize your Boarding Passes and Guidebooks

How often do you print off your boarding pass, or opt for a paper ticket at the airport? Or opt for a plastic-wrapped guidebook for your travel destination? All of these products ultimately end up in the trash. Avoid unnecessary paper waste by making everything digital, most airlines have digital QR code tickets, and most maps and guidebooks will have a digital alternative.

Research "zero waste stores near me"

It's always fun to go see what other countries are doing when it comes to sustainability. Visiting zero-waste stores in the city you're traveling to is a great way to shop for local and low-waste products. It's also usually a great spot to find fun activities and meet like-minded people.

Start by Googling "zero waste stores near me" and see what pops up. And don’t forget to pack reusable shopping bags!

Bring back zero waste gifts

If you like to bring back gifts from the places you visit, opt for a local zero-waste gift! Choose items that are locally made and come in plastic-free packaging such as candles, incense, or even locally made zero-waste beauty products! Not to mention local arts and crafts. There is nothing quite like a locally made, and well-thought-of gift.

Pro tip: to make your gift truly zero-waste, think twice about the wrapping paper. They are often made with plastic and cannot be recycled. Instead, you could choose a pretty piece of cloth to wrap your gift.

Picture found on Minted. Check out how to make beautiful knotted fabric-wrapped gifts: click here.

There is pretty much a plastic-free alternative to everything, whilst plastic may be the easiest option, if you’re desiring to be a more eco-aware traveler then it’s time to ditch the convenient for the kind and mindful.

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