Whether you like it or not, we only have one planet and we are slowly destroying it. If that doesn’t scare you, you aren’t paying attention. I know travelling isn’t the most environment-friendly activity in the world. In fact, flying by plane actually has THE WORST impact on the environment. One more reason to do our best to redeem ourselves, don’t you think? So how exactly do you achieve eco-friendly travel?
I’m not saying we should all stop using planes and only go everywhere on foot. But there are ways to reduce our carbon footprint, especially when it comes to waste. I have been reading up a lot on the zero waste lifestyle recently and although it’s a long journey to eliminate waste from our lives, I have slowly started taking steps to at least reduce it.
You can start small. Here are some ideas how you can help preserving our planet when travelling. (Of course, they can be applied in your everyday life, too!)
Have Your Own Water Bottle
Having your own water bottle is the very minimum you can do. No one can live without water, that’s pure biology. (OK, Captain Obvious…) Instead of always having to think about buying a new plastic bottle, just have your own one which you can reuse again and again! If you’re worried about the quality of water in some destinations, buy one with filter so you are protected from all kinds of bacteria. Those bottles are a bit more pricey but you’ll probably still end up saving money once you don’t have to pay for all those disposable water bottles – bottles that unfortunately tend to end up in the ocean in less developed parts of the world.
Say No to Plastic Bags
Let’s talk about plastic bags for a second. A trillion plastic bags are produced worldwide in a single year. Despite general belief, they are NOT easily recyclable – well, technically they are but it is so expensive that only less than 1% of all bags actually get recycled. The rest ends up in landfill and oceans where they take hundreds of years to decompose, breaking down into toxic pieces and killing marine life in the process.
So… what can we do to stop this madness? AVOID plastic bags whenever possible. Have your own reusable cotton bag. It can be easily folded so you can carry it with you everywhere – and it easily becomes a beach bag if need be! Bonus points if you purchase (or make) small textile bags to put your fruits and veggies in when you’re shopping. (Or anything else you would normally need a plastic bag for.)
Lunchbox and Cutlery for Food on the Go
Speaking of plastic… When you’re travelling, you usually want to eat as conveniently as possible. And that generally means… fast food, food stalls and the like. And we all know what that looks like: food in disposable paper boxes, packed in a plastic bag, put in another plastic bag with some plastic cutlery and five napkins. How about carrying your own empty food box and reusable cutlery so you can eat street food without all the waste? At least have your own travel cutlery, such as spork, if nothing else.
Menstrual Cup All the Way
This is not the last time you’re reading about a menstrual cup on my blog (sorry male readers!) because it is THE best travel accessory out there! Not only is it super convenient and comfortable when travelling (or in everyday life in general), it also means you’re not producing any waste. Ladies, think of all the disposable period products you need in your life. All replaced by this one amazing thing!
Zero Waste Hygiene
You know what else is eco-friendly? Organic solid shampoo and soap bars. I have recently invested in them – why? They are much better for your skin and hair than the chemical products you are used to, they are plastic-free AND they are perfect for travelling! You don’t have to worry about liquids in your bag if you need to fly carry-on only, nor about those liquids opening up in your backpack and ruining everything you have. Sounds kinda amazing, doesn’t it?!
Another tip is getting yourself some reusable cotton pads for make-up removal. Us women tend to go through A LOT of cotton pads just for this purpose, resulting in more waste… I think it’s a great idea to have something you can just wash and reuse. And again – handy for travelling! There’s just no need to bring a whole pack of disposable cotton pads when you only need one or two reusable ones.
And I’m sure you already know about a little miracle called coconut oil. Coconut oil can replace just about anything in your cosmetic bag: body lotion, hand cream, after sun, make-up remover, toothpaste or even deodorant. You wouldn’t want to carry all of these in your backpack, would you?
Get a Universal Sink Plug
When you are travelling long-term, you obviously need to do boring stuff like laundry on the road. However, not only can washing machines be a pain to find (and pay for), but they also need a lot of energy and water to run. I have recently discovered the universal sink plug: it’s extremely compact and you can do the washing in just about any sink. Talk about making your life easier!
Save the Trees with E-Tickets
Quite frankly, I am still a bit old-fashioned and don’t like to rely on technology completely. I mean, what if my phone screen freezes just when I’m about to show my flight ticket? Or my battery dies and I have no way of charging it? Nevertheless, it’s great that more and more companies now allow us to have e-tickets without the need to print every little confirmation. Let’s try to save the trees when we can! I promise I am slowly learning to trust technology, too 🙂
BONUS: Search with Ecosia
Ecosia is quite literally the search engine that plants trees. How is it possible? You simply install the extension to your Chrome browser and search the web as usual. In the meantime, Ecosia makes money from displaying ads, then uses the money to plant trees. Apparently it takes about 45 searches to plant one tree. Just think of how many trees you could plant while searching for all those travel guides, tips, flights and accommodations!
If it sounds too good to be true, go check it out yourself. You can even read their financial reports.
Do you have any other eco-friendly travel tips? Let me know in the comments!