Zero-Waste Traveling

If you’re a proponent of the zero-waste lifestyle, you might wonder exactly how you can adhere to its philosophies while you’re traveling. Truth be told, it’s much easier than it sounds, and all it takes is a bit of advance planning — but it’s not like you were packing your bags at the last minute anyway, right?

Ditch the Disposables

It’s very tempting to want to pick up that travel-size toothpaste or small container of Q-Tips to pack in your luggage for your next trip, but don’t do it. Put them down. You already have the essentials at home, there’s no need to spend more money and add more waste when you can use what you already own. Instead, invest in a reusable bag or portable makeup case with compartments to separate all of your toiletries.

Speaking of toiletries, you probably want to bring shampoo, mouthwash or the like with you. Instead of buying it at your destination, where you’re likely going to have to buy it in a plastic container, opt to bring your own using reusable bottles. Other things to bring include:

  • Reusable straws — bamboo are a good choice
  • Bamboo toilet paper for sustainability
  • Reusable grocery bags for shopping
  • Chopsticks or bamboo cutlery
  • Bar soap — no plastic packaging and easy to travel with

Just keep in mind that your toiletries cannot exceed a certain threshold if you’re flying. For most commercial airlines, that’s a 3.4-ounce limit for any toiletries you bring on the plane. If you check your bag (with your toiletries) there’s no limit.

Bring a Reusable Water Bottle

There’s nothing worse than adding to the landfill by drinking your way through a case or two of water while traveling. Rather, invest in a reusable water bottle if you don’t already have one. If you’re worried about the taste or quality of the water, consider one with a charcoal filter that will remove most of these impurities. Reusable water bottles are often plastic, but you can find stainless steel ones, as well.

Digitalize Everything

Paper seems to be the unavoidable element when you travel. Brochures, maps, and plane tickets are often handed out, but if you have the choice, go digital. Most attractions have their brochures and maps online, your airline most likely has an app for digital boarding passes. Simply put, try to avoid taking anything that you know will end up in the trash later on.

Eat Out

It can be tempting to take food to go, but if you’re not in a rush — and you’re on vacation, why would you be in a rush? — take the time to eat out. This will mean less packaging supplies that end up in the landfills. Additionally, if you’re eating on the plane or in the car, skip the packaged snacks and pack your own in reusable containers. This will reduce waste and will actually result in eating healthier while you’re on vacation.

Direct Flights

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but flying directly to your destination without layovers will not only save you time — giving you more to enjoy on your trip — it will also cut back on emissions and carbon. Sometimes, they can be a bit more expensive, particularly if it’s a long flight, but it’s worth it in the end.

Being conscious of your waste, even when traveling, takes mindfulness. Even if you’re a last-minute packer, at least jot down a few notes of things you need to remember to bring, so when you’re tossing those items in your bag you’ll at least have a list in front of you. Then, sit back and enjoy the rest of your trip knowing that you did your best to lessen your impact on the area you’re traveling to.


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