Zero waste travel is the punchy name, but really I think this should be called ‘Lowering Your Footprint While You Travel.’ When we’re not in our normal way of life with the places and routines we know – even if you try 100% -mistakes get made and there are unavoidable things. Most of don’t want to fully eliminate travel so for me it’s about doing my best and lowering it as much as possible! Here are some practical tips:
Take your travel kit with you
This actually lives with me any time I leave the house but especially when traveling. It’s a mini kit that eliminates 80% of the waste we’d make on the road. For us this is:
- a Keep cup
- stainless steel straw (but if you want fun you should probably look at THESE.)
- napkin: We were gifted THESE ones which we love.
- eco lunch box – for taking meals on the plane, and taking restaurant leftovers.
- water bottle (mason jars) – I bring 2 32oz ones on the plane filled already so I don’t have to take water from their plastic bottles in cups. We also load these into the car for long car journeys. In a punch they double for restaurant leftovers or bulk store items!
- Sometimes: a mini cotton bag. I throw in a couple of the ones I use for bulk dry goods, and they’re great for certain to-go items like a pastry but also always end up doubling for so many things.
- BUT maybe most importantly and also FREE: a few quick lines in your vocab…
Be ready to say no
I don’t just mean being able to say no to other people. Sorry (!). Mostly I mean being able to say no to yourself. Do you really need that coffee if you don’t have a reusable cup?
And be ready to tell people no, ask questions, and light heartedly explain your mission!
Of course I’m also meaning get ready to no to other people and things. When you buy anything preface it with: Can I have that without any plastic? Or can I have that without a straw? Do you have a non disposable cup ‘for here’? If there isn’t a good option, be ready to say ‘thanks’ and not buy – if you’re up for it.
When I said on my way out to London that I wasn’t going to get a coffee cos I didn’t have a keep cup with me so many people messaged me and said, ’you deserve it, don’t be so hard on yourself, have a coffee.’ I hear the sentiment, but I don’t see it as being hard on myself. I have a mission and I love exercising the discipline to follow it through. Eliminating plastic means a lot more to me than a coffee. I don’t believe that I ‘deserve’ to treat myself to creating plastic waste.
Save your recyclables and composting!
I hold on to all my compostable scraps any time I’m out! When I’m with my parents they compost as well so I know for both plane journeys I can save it. If I can’t find a recycling bin I also make sure I bring any recyclables home. I’ll throw into this one that I also ALWAYS say yes to taking leftover food home from any meals out. I use an eco lunch box
to take any leftovers. When you’re traveling sometimes it can be one meal out to the next and you think maybe you won’t eat leftovers but make space for them. Take a meal to just eat the leftovers, or stop at a grocery store for a few extras but use things up rather than trashing good food and buying another whole meal.
Choose your transport
I’m not an expert but I’ve read it’s taking off and landing on a plane that’s the worst for the environment so I try to book direct flights, and as we live 4 hours from the airport find a friend to drive us rather than taking an extra short flight. If you can reduce luggage to just a carry on then do that, I can’t 😉 Then for very little you can also offset your carbon emissions HERE
. Then when you’re traveling do as much on foot as possible, share transport, consolidate trips and use public transport.
Search out the local area
Google is your friend, use it! Before I travel anywhere I search out the essentials. Include a place to buy food, any local restaurants that are specifically low/no waste or ones that use local food, are vegan or however you play the low waste game! I use google but also instagram and search hashtags like #zerowaste[insert city or area] then follow the trail. Usually I’ll find one zero waste blogger, group, or shop and dig into the community online! It actually makes for really exciting connections, great food, and discovering the locals and the area. It’s not a restrictive mission when we travel but it becomes a really fun one!
Cloth Diapering on the Go
I need to do a full post on cloth diapering but I cloth diapered Roey on the road for a month. Obviously it doesn’t always work but any trip 48 hours or less I just put them all in a wet bag
(I use THIS
Thirsties one) and bring them home, and longer if I can I wash them on the road! I strip the washer with vinegar then kindly ask everyone if they can use a CD friendly detergent!
What are the things you do to reduce waste as you travel? Give me your tips in the comments below!