It seems like every day we see another shocking news image showing a polluted beach, or a sea turtle choking on plastic. If you’re travelling to an exotic destination, the last thing you want to do is add to the mess. Yet it can be hard to travel plastic-free.
The travel industry is addicted to single-use plastic, and it can be even more common in developing countries, where it's often not possible to drink tap water.
Here are some tips that will help you travel plastic-free.
#1: Bring a zero waste kit
The best way to reduce plastic waste is to go reusable, and bring your zero waste travel essentials. A little advance preparation is worth the clear conscience of travelling plastic-free. Let’s keep those beautiful beaches as they are, and protect the ocean’s wildlife while we’re at it.
Reusable water bottle: Keeping hydrated is even more important when you’re in a hot and humid climate. Instead of buying bottled water every day and carrying it around, why not try a travel filter bottle or steri-pen. These genius inventions remove well in excess of 99% of contaminants – worry-free and no single-use plastic!
The memo bottle (although it doesn’t contain a filter) is also handy for travelling, due to its flat shape. If you’re tight on leg space on the plane, you can stick this one into the pouch in front of you, and it won’t dig into your knees- phew!
Reusable coffee (or tea) cup: Your reusable coffee cup isn’t just for the daily commute. You can use it on trains and planes as well – some airlines even offer a discount! We find a collapsible cup like Stojo or pokito can be packed away with minimal space - particularly handy for travelling. Remember, this cup isn't just for coffee or tea- you can also keep it handy for picking up freshly squeezed juice, or even water in the hotel lobby.
Reusable straw: Plastic straws cause havoc to ocean wildlife. If drinking from a straw is a must for you, bring along a reusable straw - we find these soft silicone straws particularly handy for travelling - pick one colour for each person in the group!
Reusable carry bag: The curse of plastic bags will be seen for many years to come, but you don’t have to be part of the problem. Keep your reusable bag handy in case you come across a must-have souvenir or delicious local market snacks. With a fold-up bag that fits in your pocket, this doesn’t have to be a chore.
Reusable cutlery: Carrying light-weight travel cutlery is a no brainer to reduce your waste. Use them on planes, trains or in restaurants. It sets a great example for the people around you.
#2: Refuse wasteful freebies
We all love a good bargain, and even more a free giveaway. But think about it - free stuff just means extra things you have to carry around, or feel guilty about throwing away. Less is more when it comes to freebies.
Hotel toiletries: One way to avoid collecting unnecessary free items is by avoiding hotel toiletries. Ask the reception (nicely!) if they could remove them from your room. They are generally packaged in plastic, and more often than not, barely used by guests, creating lots of unnecessary waste.
Travel accessories: Travel socks, masks, earphones etc. are generally packaged or made out of plastic and are only used once, adding to the plastic waste issue in the travel industry. So, avoid, avoid, avoid; you’ll feel like an environmental champion.
#3: Be the change
Being sustainable isn’t just about doing less harm, it’s about doing more good. When travelling, you have the opportunity not just to reduce your own waste, but also to spread the word to others.
Be an example for fellow travellers. When dining in restaurants and cafes, tell the serving staff (nicely!) about the plastics issue, and why you prefer to avoid plastic straws and cutlery.
Remember, standing up for what you believe in gives others permission to do the same. It’s all about the ripple effect!