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zero waste travel essentials

Every time we fly, sail, or drive to a new destination, our carbon footprint increases. And while we can get in a long debate about the ethics of travelling, we find it more useful 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 make a positive impact on the environment with even the smallest 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 then we 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 in search of a greener way of travelling and you’ve come to the right place.

After lots of research, and trial and errors, we have come to 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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Packing list of zero waste travel essentials that are actually realistic and affordable. What to pack on your trips to reduce waste. Where to find the best items for sustainable travel.

This article may contain affiliate links. These are links to services or products we recommend because we know them first hand or we are sure we can vouch for them after extensive research. Read our Disclosure.


Zero Waste Travel: What You Need to Be a Sustainable Traveller

You will find our recommendations divided into two categories. The first one 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 really difficult to eliminate waste entirely, but these suggestions will help you reduce it significantly.

Before the Trip: Zero Waste Travel Products to Pack

Reusable Packing Bags

zero waste travel bags

These reusable bags from ProEco have been working so great for travel that we started using them in our room’s drawers as well.

How do these bags contribute to your zero waste philosophy? Easy.

  1. The quality is really good so the bags will last for a very long time.
  2. These reusable packing bags from ProEco are made of recycled polyester.
  3. If they get dirty, just wash them by hand or in the washing machine and they are ready to be reused.

It always comes handy to have inside your suitcase some packing bags to keep your things tidy and organized. Some of the things to pack separately can be 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

zero waste travel makeup

Regular makeup is filled with all kinds of harmful chemicals, preservatives, and other elements you don’t want everyday 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 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, one of 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 literally use it for years, and saves you money on the process.

Reusable Travel Mug or Water Bottle

zero waste travel - water bottle
Image Credit: @HydroFlask

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 major role in plastic pollution.

It is very common for everyone to be walking around a new city, and just walk in a store to buy a plastic water bottle, right? In many countries, there are no resources or effective programs to recycle plastic bottles (or any kind of plastic for that matter). Tourism generates trash in big quantities, and this is especially obvious in touristic islands where the waste management is a big challenge.

In an attempt to contribute less to this issue, we are trying a few reusable flasks like Hydro Flask. They have a nice design and are very practical in outdoor activities. I ended up using this not only while travelling but on a daily basis as well.

Solid Toiletries

Image credit: @Lush

I have to 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 actually looks better.

When using organic, eco-conscious products on your body and skin, not only you are countributing to the planet but also to 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, these are not liquid, so you avoid having problems 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 unhealthy 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

Travel Paperless

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 to train and bus tickets.

zero waste travel

Of course there may be some exceptions, so be sure to have all the information you need.

Bring Your Digital Entertainment

It is always nice to enjoy a movie or a book, especially in long haul flights. Instead of buying a physical book, why don’t you try downloading the digital version?

I usually download my books on the phone. I either get them from Kindle and read them on the free app, or save them offline on my phone if I get them from Scribd.

if you are not comfortable reading from your phone, there is always the options of using a tablet or a Kindle device.

zero waste travel kindle

Some aeroplanes don’t have an individual screen to watch a movie, so taking the time to download your movies before a flight can be useful. And don’t forget to bring your own earphones! this way you don’t use the airline’s disposable plastic earphones.

Universal Adapter

zero waste travel adapter
Image Credit: Glamfields

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.

Reusable Food Containers

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 it 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 buy 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…

Bamboo Cutlery

zero waste travel - bamboo cutlery

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 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 to mention 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 (of which Amazon is mainly responsible and not the supplier). So if you can get them on 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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List of zero waste travel essentials. What to pack on your trips to reduce waste. Our suggestions of where to find the best items for sustainable travel.
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