Our carbon footprint increases every time we fly, sail, or drive to a new destination. And while we can get into a long debate about the ethics of travelling, we find it more beneficial to give you practical and proven tips to reduce your impact with zero waste travel essentials.
Fortunately, more and more people are becoming aware of how they can positively impact the environment with even the most minor changes.
In our case, we got tired – and frankly ashamed – of seeing how many trash bags we could produce daily. So, we started to change our habits at home and brought these efforts to our trips.
We are so happy to share our best tips for zero waste travel! If you are reading this, I know you are searching for a greener way of travelling, and you’ve come to the right place.
After much research and trial and error, we love some of our zero waste travel essentials. Let’s get started with the best tips and eco-friendly products to take with you on the go.
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Zero Waste Travel: What You Need to Be a Sustainable Traveller
You will find our recommendations divided into two categories. The first is a list of zero waste travel items you can get before your trip. Consider these products when creating your eco-friendly packing list.
The second category is our zero waste travel essentials while at the destination. Of course, it is complicated to eliminate waste, but these suggestions will help you reduce it significantly.
Before the Trip: Zero Waste Travel Products to Pack
These reusable bags from ProEco have worked so great for travel that we also started using them in our room’s drawers.
How do these bags contribute to your zero waste philosophy? Easy.
- The quality is excellent, so the bags will last a very long time.
- These reusable packing bags from ProEco are made of recycled polyester.
- If they get dirty, wash them by hand or in the washing machine. The bags will be ready to be reused.
It always comes in handy to have inside your suitcase some packing bags to keep your things tidy and organized. Some things to pack separately include your makeup, toiletries, shoes, and laundry.
We also love that they are very affordable and come in different sizes. They are also semi-transparent and in different colours, so it is easy to know what you have inside the bags when going through your suitcase.
Zero Waste Travel Makeup
Regular makeup is filled with harmful chemicals, preservatives, and other elements you don’t want daily on your skin.
I have been trying to eliminate a lot of commercial makeup from my bag, mainly avoiding sulfates, phthalates, and parabens. I am still transitioning to all-natural products but have already found a few gems here and there.
Some brands that stand out for the high quality of their products, cruelty-free policies, eco-conscious packaging, plus ethical sourcing are Dab Herb Makeup & Skincare, Axiology, and Clean-Faced Cosmetics.
Also, my favourite purchases so far are these makeup remover cloths. They are made of bamboo and charcoal fibre, they are easy to wash, and I can carry only 1 or 2 on any trip. A product like this is essential in any zero waste travel bag as you can use it for years, saving you money in the process.
It is a well-known fact that plastic is one of the worst threats to our future on Earth, but many people don’t know that tourism has a significant role in plastic pollution.
It is common for everyone to walk around a new city and just walk into a store to buy a plastic water bottle. In many countries, there are no resources or effective programs to recycle plastic bottles (or any plastic for that matter). Tourism generates trash in large quantities, and this is especially obvious in touristic islands where waste management is a big challenge.
We are trying a few reusable flasks like Hydro Flask to contribute less to this issue. They have an excellent design and are very practical in outdoor activities. I ended up using this not only while travelling but daily as well.
I admit I was a bit sceptical at the beginning about solid toiletries. “Sure, zero waste travel sounds great but will my hair look *good* if I wash it with a bar?”
Pretty sure my hair looks better.
When using organic, eco-conscious products on your body and skin, you contribute to the planet and your health.
Here are some of my favourite zero waste travel toiletries:
- Lush Haircare – Products available for all types of hair. Besides all the health and eco advantages, Lush smells great, and I’ve noticed my hair is falling a lot less. Also, you will have more space for liquids when travelling with a carry-on.
- Nuud anti-odorant – Traditional deodorants have aluminium and other harmful ingredients. Nuud seems to be doing a good job staying away from harmful components. They are 100% vegan, and the tube is a bioplastic made of sugarcane.
- Consider using a Bamboo Toothbrush! The one linked is really good, but you have many options. When you think of all the plastic toothbrushes an average person can use and dispose of, it is obvious how this small change can make a big difference.
During the Trip: Zero Waste Travel Essentials
There are many ways in which you can reduce your waste at the beginning of your journey. One easy action you can take is to avoid printing any paper.
Airlines no longer require you to print your boarding pass. And if you are not checking your bags, you don’t need to go to the counter to have it printed either. You can probably only use the QR code and boarding pass sent to your email. The same thing goes for train and bus tickets.
Of course, there may be some exceptions, so be sure to have all the information you need.
Bring Your Digital Entertainment
Enjoying a movie or a book is always nice, especially on long-haul flights. Instead of buying a physical book, why don’t you try downloading the digital version?
If you are not comfortable reading from your phone, you can always use a tablet, an e-notebook, or a Kindle device.
Some aeroplanes don’t have an individual screen to watch a movie, so taking the time to download your films before a flight can be helpful. And don’t forget to bring your earphones! This way, you don’t use the airline’s disposable plastic earphones.
We got this little multipurpose adapter that works well with our electronics everywhere we go.
It works a lot better than buying an individual adapter for the region you are visiting. Less plastic consumption and more free space in your bag.
Food containers are life savers when going on outdoor trips or when travelling on a budget.
To get zero waste travel containers for food, it is important that you can reuse them as much as necessary. We like this stainless steel container. We went for stainless steel for durability and because it is lighter than glass.
By carrying your own food, you avoid going to a store and buying something on the go, which will be probably wrapped in plastic.
I don’t want to sound like plastic is EVIL. It seems to be necessary for so many things, and we by no means have been able to eliminate plastic consumption. But it does become obvious how much unnecessary plastic is in our lives once you pay attention. And speaking of plastic alternatives…
To complement your food container, or to avoid plastic forks when you try street food, bring with you bamboo cutlery.
There are many options when it comes to bamboo tableware, but we liked these ones because the brand states that they do not use any type of chemicals or melamine (which are commonly found in other options in the market).
They are very lightweight and convenient for the outdoors. Also, if at some point you want to get rid of them, your conscious can be clear because bamboo is 100% biodegradable.
That’s all for now. We hope this list of items makes your zero waste travel easier!
It is probably worth mentioning that some of these items are linked to Amazon, and we do see the irony when their packages come full of useless plastic and cardboard (for which Amazon is mainly responsible and not the supplier). So if you can get them at your local store, it is always better to purchase locally rather than online. However, it is difficult to find some of these items in many locations so if that is the case, it is convenient to order online as the benefits beat the downsides.
Feel free to comment below what are some of your favourite tips for zero waste travel!
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