It’s travel season! Hopefully you’ve got a fabulous vacation, family reunion, or epic road trip to enjoy during the summer months. Travel can be pretty rough on the environment, between transportation emissions and our generally-more-wasteful habits while away from home. However, with a little bit of preparation, you can plan for zero-waste, trash free travel and feel great about your contribution toward being a little kinder to mother earth.
How to Create Less Waste While Traveling
As much as possible avoid paper tickets, brochures, and other items that are used once and quickly discarded. When flying, download a PDF of your plane ticket to scan at the gate rather than printing it out at home or the airport. If you can pack light and avoid checking a bag, as well, you can keep away from the stickers and tags that are placed on checked luggage. Save important information, directions, and maps on your phone. If you know that you’ll be traveling to an international location where your phone’s data won’t work, you can use Google Maps’ “ok maps” feature to save maps that you can access offline before getting on your flight.
Traveling zero waste is all about being prepared! Bring a basic “zero waste kit” with you to avoid situations where you’d be forced to create waste. This can include items like a reusable tote bag (I love the type that fold up very small), a reusable coffee cup, a set of utensils (just pack a fork and spoon, no knife, if you’re flying!), a sandwich-sized stasher bag, and a handkerchief or cloth napkin. These simple items take up very little space in your luggage, but are versatile enough to help you create less trash in many different situations. I use stasher bags for everything from taking leftovers from a meal to storing wet or dirty items so they don’t contaminate the rest of my luggage.
Pack Your Own Food
Airports and gas stations aren’t the best place to find zero waste snacks or food, yet they’re the places that are largely available to us when we’re traveling. Pack your own food, and you won’t find yourself with any unwanted trash from food wrappers, straws, or utensils. A hearty sandwich is great for a long trip, and a few granola bars or protein bites can tide you over on a shorter one— all of which can be kept fresh in a few stasher bags.
Take Your Own Toiletries
Those tiny plastic bottles of soap, shampoo, and lotion are cute, but they’re terrible for the environment. Most of us won’t even use a full small bottle during a stay, meaning not only the plastic bottle, but the wasted product gets sent right to the landfill after we check out. Bring your own toiletries from home instead of using the hotels’- invest in a few small, refillable bottles and pack them in a TSA- approved sandwich-sized Stasher for easy maneuvering through airport security!
Bring a Water Bottle
Bringing your own water bottle is a small action to take, but it can keep so many plastic water bottles out of the landfill! If you’re flying, just be sure to bring an empty water bottle to avoid having to chug its’ contents minutes before you have to go through the security line. Most airports have water fountains and water bottle refilling stations to use, so you can avoid overpriced airport bottled water entirely. On the plane, ask the stewardess to refill your water bottle instead of using a new, small plastic cup each time you get thirsty.
Do you have any tips for traveling zero-waste? Let us know!
This post was written by our friend Hannah Theisen, co-founder of TELAstory Collective.