Making conscious decisions while traveling can seem daunting or difficult, and is something many people don’t even think about. By making small changes and becoming aware of our actions, we can reduce the negative impact on our environment. These are some adjustments that are easy for anyone to make.
Turn Down the Inflight Beverage Service
Asking for a soda or simple cup of water just contributes to unnecessary waste. With airlines producing almost 6 billion tons of waste annually, let’s do what we can to reduce that amount. Just say no to plastic cups and snack wrappers by using the recommendations below.
Bring Your Own Bottle
This is the easiest and most obvious way to cut down plastic waste, yet so many people choose to buy overpriced bottled water in the airport. You are able to bring an empty reusable bottle through security and fill it up at a fountain once you’re in the terminal. When I’m exploring a new city, I stick a small bottle in my bag and ask restaurants to refill it or find a water fountain. I find that many European and U.S. cities have accessible and clean drinking water, even tap water is safe to drink. However, there are many regions around the world that have unsafe drinking water, so just do some research on each destination about where to find clean water.
Pack Your Own Snacks
Stocking up on whole fruits, like apples and oranges, give you something quick and easy to throw in your bag. Homemade granola or veggie chips can be carried in linen bulk bags that can be reused later. I like to have a lot of food with me, especially on long flights, so I tend to pack something filling like pasta or sandwiches in lightweight tupperware dishes. You can bring any food through security as long as it’s not a liquid over 3 oz.
Pack a Reusable Shopping Bag
I usually bring a tote and a few small mesh or linen bags for groceries during my travels. As a backpacker, these take up minimal space and are extremely lightweight. When you stop into a grocery store, avoid packaged foods and fill your reusable bags with bulk items, fruits and vegetables, and fresh breads. Produce and bulk bags can be found on Amazon or Etsy, if you can’t find them in your local market.
Consider Transportation Alternatives
By avoiding the use of taxis and ride shares, you can help cut back on emissions and reduce your carbon footprint. Many cities and countries have well designed train systems that are easy to figure out and provide a local experience. Airplanes also contribute a large amount of CO2 into the atmosphere. While it isn’t feasible to stop flying altogether, it’s still better to look into bus and train routes when possible.
Avoid Hotel Toiletries
Luckily many hotel chains are beginning to rid of those tiny shampoo bottles, in order to cut back on plastic waste. But these toiletries are still a problem, just like those travel size products you can buy at the store that are only good for a few uses, before going in the trash. Bring your own zero or low waste products, and leave all the unused toiletries at the front desk to ensure they’re not thrown away.
Opt for Eco-Conscious Toiletries Instead
There are so many ways to cut back on waste by substituting your hygiene and beauty products. Switching up your dental routine is one of the easiest ways to make green choices, in my opinion. Start using a bamboo toothbrush and stop with that single use tube of toothpaste.
Look for package free shampoo and soap bars that can be carried in small tins. DIY creams and dry shampoos can be made with household items bought in bulk. You can also switch to a straight edge razor instead of a disposable one, just keep in mind that these aren’t allowed through security and will have to go in checked luggage.
Skip the Cheesy Souvenirs
Most of the stuff you find at souvenir shops are just mass-produced pieces of junk, if I’m being honest. I get that most people want to bring home something special to remind them of their trip, or bring gifts to friends and family, but it’s better to try and find something worthwhile that will last a long time. By visiting nearby artisanal markets, you can find handmade trinkets and treasures that are unique to the place you’re visiting, while also giving you a chance to support local vendors.