Attention all passengers: holiday travel season has officially arrived. Whether you view your annual trips as an adventure or a big 'ole annoyance, there is one thing we can all agree on: taking the planet into consideration during travel planning should be a priority.
And guess what? Being a little more earth-friendly on your next excursion doesn't have to be exhausting. In fact, these five ways to reduce waste while traveling this holiday season are simple and won't add a ton of cash to your travel costs. And as one of USA Today's readers choice winners for best family travel accessories, we can tell you that a Stasher bag is the perfect companion.
Don't forget that taking one small change can add up to big impacts in the long run so even doing one thing on this list will make you an eco-friendly flier or road tripper this season. Dig in and tell us how you're traveling plastic-free this year on Instagram!
Bring your zero waste kit
Whether I am traveling or just around town, I always try to bring my “zero waste kit” with me. In my kit, I have a set of reusable bamboo cutlery, a coffee cup, my water bottle, a mental straw (sometimes!), an organic cotton produce bag, and a Stasher bag. Sometimes I will throw in a mason jar for leftovers if I have space.
The cutlery, coffee cup, metal straw and water bottle allow me to drastically cut down on single-use disposables when it comes to food and drink. The produce bag is great for anything I want to grab from a bulk section, if I go to a bakery and need a bag for a muffin, or anything else I need a little bag for — as is my Stasher bag. I use my Stasher at the bulk section as well, and sometimes I store my compost in it to bring home (like apple cores and banana peels).
Pack your own food
Like many sustainability hacks, this is beneficial multiple ways: you avoid the plastic waste associated with buying packaged food at the gas station or airport, you likely save some cash, and, of course, you can bring healthy snacks with you, avoiding the fate of rest stop or airport food.
I load up on nuts, fresh fruit, cut up veggies, and even dried fruit to bring on planes— all stored in my Stasher bags. You can also bring your own meal in a Stasher or a jar to avoid overpriced, often unhealthy and plastic-filled airport food. Once you finish your snacks, you can use your Stasher bags for something else on your trip— like dirty laundry or wet bathing suits!
P.S. Yes, you can bring your own from-home snacks and food through TSA security! Just leave the liquids (like soups) at home.
Bring the toiletries you will need
One way I often end up with waste when traveling is through last minute toiletries — forgetting my tooth paste or razor. Avoid this by bringing your own from home. You can bring your favorite natural shampoo and conditioner in travel sized bottles, a bar of soap, tooth paste, and anything else you’ll need in the bathroom.
And don’t forget your toothbrush! A single plastic toothbrush takes decades, if not centuries, to decompose in the landfill, so needing to grab an extra is not ideal.
Pack plastic-free alternatives
Did you know that many tea bags are made with plastic? Not only does that make them challenging for the environment, but they aren’t so great for your health either. While traveling, bring your favorite plastic-free tea (I love Pukka and Traditional Medicinals) in a Stasher and ask for hot water in your travel coffee cup at the airport, or make tea in your hotel room.
You can also make your own granola bars, muffins, or cookies ahead of time for travel and hotel stays, so you can grab and go without the plastic.
Travel and vacation is supposed to be a time of fun, joy, and exploration. Don’t beat yourself up if the famous donut shop in town puts your donut in a plastic bag, or you want to try a coffee from the local shop and forgot your cup. It’s all about balance.
Whether it's a bottle of water or cheesy airport souvenir, consume with intention and know that there's no such thing as perfection so don't beat yourself up if you end up with a single-use cup. The fact that you're mindful is a huge step in the right direction!