Just because you are traveling doesn’t mean you can’t do your part to reduce waste. Here are a few ideas to help you make a smaller footprint while you beat feet across the planet.
- Cut your paper waste. Don’t come home with a bag full of plane tickets, receipts, and maps. Use your phone! Download boarding tickets and maps; skip the receipts or have them emailed to you.
- Decline the in-flight stuff. Don’t take pamphlets, snacks, miniature wine bottles, toothbrushes or whatever else they are handing out.
- Pack Well. Double check when packing so you don’t have to purchase anything you have forgotten.
- Pack your own toiletries. Non-reusable mini containers are a terrible plastic waste problem. Bring reusable containers for shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body wash and hand-sanitizer. Fill them with what you already have or at a bulk co-op. Don’t forget your safety razor. Use unpackaged deodorant. I use a crystal but Lush makes a deodorant bar that is very nice.
- Oh to be a girl. The menstrual cup is a traveling girl’s best friend. Tampons and pads are not always available abroad. Having a menstrual cup will not only eliminate waste but also the incredible inconvenience of having to hunt down a suitable feminine hygiene product at a most inconvenient time.
- Pack a quick dry hand towel. It actually has a number of uses including as a napkin or mopping up spills.
- Bring your own food/drink containers. Bring a reusable coffee mug, water bottle, and grocery bag. We even pack a collapsible food container for leftovers or picking something up at a market. Don’t forget a couple of mesh produce bags to stock up on fresh fruit while you are there.
- Pack your own utensils. I have a bamboo set I always carry with me. Not only can I avoid the plastic forks and spoons but I always have them at the ready in case I pick something up at a food stall.
- Refuse Single-Use Plastics when every you can. Avoid straws and plastic shopping bags as much as possible.
- Pack snacks. You can bring most food items through TSA as long as it isn’t a liquid or gel. Prep some snacks like hummus and crackers, peanut butter, apples or bulk nuts and pretzels. Refusing the airline snacks will reduce the packaging you throw away.
- Entertainment. Bring along your Ipad to watch a movie. Download a book or audiobook. Having your own entertainment along can also help reduce the waste of having to pick up a magazine at the airport because you forgot to bring something to keep yourself busy.
- Clean house before you go. Eat up all of all your food before you leave (or freeze it). Unplug trickle electronics while you are away. Turn off your AC and set your thermostat to 50 degrees while you are away to save money and energy.
- Try to be mindful. Set yourself up for success. Being more mindful of the waste you might create will help you reduce it. While sometimes it’s nearly impossible to avoid some kind paper or plastic waste, making the effort is better than nothing and it all adds up in the end.
What are your ideas for reducing waste while traveling? Let us know in the comments below.