29 Mar Tips for Zero Waste Travel
These are my top tips for minimizing unnecessary waste while travelling.
So picture this, you’re on the adventure of a lifetime. You’ve spent the past few days living in a dream like state as you’re immersing yourself in your new surroundings and you’re loving every minute of it. You’re devouring coastlines and stunning rock formations, waking up for sunrise and staying up late to catch the stars. Suddenly, you’re snapped back to reality because you stumble upon a disposable Starbucks mug and remember that people suck and that we don’t deserve the Earth. There is NOTHING worse than having the rich and delicious experience of soaking up a new culture and landscape completely deflated by other people’s trash.
Let me preface by saying that living a completely zero-waste lifestyle is a massive feat in today’s society. What we really need, ideally, is for producers to get on board with this movement in order to assist consumers in creating a smaller impact. I do still believe that making small changes at home can stimulate change in a big way. Although I have quite a few practices for living zero waste at home – ‘My Zero Waste Kitchen’ post coming up soon!! – striving for zero waste while travelling is a slightly different ball game.
When traversing through a new country or landscape, naturally you won’t have access to the same bulk stores and produce stands that you have grown accustomed to back home. And for this reason, I have a few small improvisations that allow me to minimize my single use waste as much as possible. The first three can be applied to any trip and you’ll find these on any and every of my packing lists. The final points are really great for adventure trips and van living.
- Reusable coffee mug and water bottle. Do I even have to say this? If you’re still drinking out of plastic water bottles then c’mon, it’s time to move on.
- Reusable cutlery and straw. Typically when you’re travelling, you’re eating out more often and thus likely to come across more ghastly disposable cutlery and straws. Don’t forget to request for your order to be made without them!
- Reusable grocery & produce bags. I always really appreciate bringing a foldable tote bag every time I travel and find myself using it nearly every day, especially because it can double as a grocery bag! I’ve also accumulated a few small silk bags that I sometimes use to store my bathing suits, accessories, etc which are also great for bagging mushrooms, green beans, or fresh spinach.
- Rechargeable batteries. I really despise disposable batteries and the lack of easy access to dispose of them properly. (did you know that batteries aren’t supposed to be disposed of in the regular garbage?!) I use my Duracell rechargeable batteries for any wireless tech accessories, flashlights, twinkle lights, etc.
- Rechargeable headlamps. Anybody who has been camping even once knows that your headlamp is an extension of your body if you want to be productive after nightfall. The problem is that daily use can drain the batteries SO quickly. Although rechargeable batteries are an excellent solution for keeping your headlamp zero waste I recently came across a USB rechargeable headlamp and I LOVE it. The charge lasts for so long and even if it does begin to fade in the middle of cooking dinner or if you get the urge to do classic Ashley car rearrangement way past dark, you can actually plug it into an external power source and continue use!
- Solar lights. We found these adorable solar twinkle lights at the hardware store and they are awesome! We stick the little solar panel just above the windshield to soak up rays while we drive. They are designed for outdoor gardens and patios so no stress about pulling it inside once it starts to rain.
- Camp Suds concentrated biodegradable soap. I’m so obsessed with this stuff. It comes in a tiny little bottle – and trust me space is EVERYTHING when you’re living out of a bag or your vehicle – because it’s concentrated and you really need just a drop to mix with water and create a sudsy dish bath. Plus it’s biodegradable! Which is essential when washing near natural water sources and around wildlife.
- Re-use all plastic bags. I can NOT wrap my head around purchasing plastic garbage bags considering our global plastic consumption. We are basically drowning in plastic. It’s everywhere. And the only good thing about plastic is that it’s durable, easy to wash, and REUSABLE. I absolutely refuse to consume unnecessary plastic bags – I’m that crazy girl leaving the grocery store with my arms and purse full of groceries when I’ve forgotten my reusable bag in the car. Namely because there are already a number of plastic bags that I’m forced to consume simply because I don’t have the choice. – Bread bags as an example – many bakeries opt for plastic packaging, and with bread, in some shape or form, being a staple in our grocery shops, I’m stuck with a small plastic bag each week. I can always find a use for these bags, from throwing my wet bathing suit or sandy flip flops inside after the beach, or double bagging my liquids before a flight, really anywhere! My go-to is to use this as a garbage bag. Using a small bag for your garbage for the week also reminds us to watch how much we are disposing of each day/week. Do you think you could keep a week’s worth of your garbage in a bread bag? I challenge you to try!
Although I am not yet living a lifestyle that is as zero-waste as I would like to be, I do make a conscious effort to up-cycle single use plastics, and I implore you to do the same! On that note, if anybody has found a similarly delicious solution for my chip addiction and the non-recyclable bags they come with then honestly hit me up.