I’ve just wrapped up two weeks of travelling to Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands, followed by another two weeks in Canada. With all this travel, I did a bit of research on some easy ways to reduce any landfill waste I produce on the go, and thought I would share it here for anyone who is interested. Also, if someone could come up with a way to travel long distances quickly without all the associated emissions, that would be amazing thanks.
Packing less stuff means less energy spent transporting your belongings around. Most people tend to overpack anyway, and packing light means you can enjoy your trip rather than worrying about making sure your bags are safe. The additional mobility allows you to take a train or bus rather than having to rely on expensive cabs and I have yet to come across a situation that would have been solved by bringing more stuff with me. Unless you are hiking in the outback or other similarly remote location, most things can be picked up locally.
2. Bring your own bottle.
This one tip has probably kept dozens of plastic bottles out of the landfill and saved me much money on my latest trip alone. I can see no reason not to do this if the water out of the tap at your destination (and along the way) is safe to drink. Since I can be a bit picky about odd tastes in my water, I carry a bottle with a built in filter like this one
. When I’m flying, I pack the empty bottle in my carry on and fill it at a water fountain once I am through security, it’s as easy as that!
3. Pack a tote bag.
Along with the above tip, possibly one of the easiest things to do. We always find multiple ways to use a cotton tote: most commonly as a grocery bag or a laundry bag. You can also use them as shoe bags and wash them when you’re done, rather than using a plastic bag.
4. Eat in.
Single use cups, plates and cutlery are some of the biggest contributions to landfills. Fortunately, they are also fairly easy to avoid most of the time. Just a little bit of research (or even looking around at the people at the tables) can help you choose restaurants that serve their food on actual provide reusable cutlery will help eliminate a lot of waste. At coffee shops, simply ask for your drink for here rather than to go. If you must have your drink on the go, carry a travel mug with you. Most places will even offer a discount when you use your own container, allowing you to use that extra change for a bus ride or museum ticket instead!
For soft drinks and cocktails, simply ask for your drink without a straw. I’m happy to drink my coke straight from the glass, but if you like having a straw you can carry your own metal/glass/bamboo straw instead.
5. Refuse politely.
When you travel, various maps and handouts pile up quickly. Try to download maps and guides on your smartphone before you go, and politely refuse the free map they hand out with entrance tickets. If this is not possible, try to share a single map/handout amongst your travel party rather than using one per person. Even just between me and the boy, this halved the paper waste we produced.
6. Pack your own food/snacks.
For short road trips, it’s fairly easy to pack your own food. While flying, by packing your own dry nibbles, fruit and a water bottle (see point 2 above), you can eliminate a lot of the packaging thrown away from snacking on the plane.
On longer trips, I like to buy a single large bag of chips (or whatever other snack I feel like eating) to last me at least a few days rather than buying multiple single serve packs. Similarly, staying in an Air B&B or hotel room with a small kitchenette can be a great way to prepare at least some of your meals in advance, saving you time, money and waste!
7. Choose with thought.
By making a conscious decision to choose more eco friendly options, whether that is taking the bus or staying in a hotel that follows more sustainable principles, you are making a statement with your money. It might not always be possible or practical to be zero waste, but remember that every little counts. Make the best choices that you can, don’t stress out if you slip up, and most importantly: enjoy your trip!
What are your favourite zero waste travel tips?
Until next time, Love, Me 🙂