After 2020’s pandemic clipped our travel wings, no doubt many of you will be planning an adventure-filled 2021, whether your travel itinerary involves jet-setting to a remote eco travel destination in the Philippines, a local staycation or even travelling the coastline #vanlife style.
Don’t have any travel plans per se but do a daily commute to work or school? Don’t forget to bring your reusables and other eco travel essentials to minimise your environmental footprint further. Carrying an eco-friendly backpack filled with your reusables every time you leave home is the best way to ensure that you limit the amount of single-use plastic in your life.
Here are some reusable and eco-friendly items that make up the core essentials of any zero waste travel kit:
1. Reusable bags
Don’t bring just one reusable bag when you set off, take several reusable bags with you as you may decide to do a larger shop while travelling. It’s also a good idea to take smaller produce fabric bags as these are handy to store bulk nuts, fruit and other food items.
2. Reusable bottles
Roughly one million plastic bottles are produced every single minute. Save plastic (and money) by taking your reusable bottle. Brands such as S’well and Klean Kanteen make some durable, stylish and stainless steel reusable bottles that will last the distance, If you have room in your backpack or carry-on, we recommend taking several bottles as chances are you’ll need more than just one bottle, particularly if you’re planning to hike or do sightseeing day-trips. There are many places you can refill your reusable bottle these days; many cafes, restaurants and hotel lobbies now offer water refill stations.
3. BYO coffee cup
In Australia, approximately 2,700,000 paper takeaway coffee cups are thrown out every day. It’s worse in the UK, with seven million coffee cups used every single day. If you cannot resist the lure of a freshly barista-made on your travels, make sure to take your reusable coffee cup with you. Now the COVID-19 pandemic has made it a little more difficult to use reusables given that many cafes and restaurants are restricting reusables for health and hygiene purposes but there is a simple workaround if they do not accept your reusable coffee cup. If the cafe allows dine-in, just order your coffee in, and then when it is received, just pour it straight into your reusable cup and ta-da – zero waste coffee to go!
4. Food containers
Bring food containers or glass jars with you as you’ll never know when you’ll need to take home some leftovers. Reusable food containers are also handy while travelling as they can double as storage boxes for things like shampoo bars and bar soap.
5. Bar soap
Forgo liquid body wash in plastic pump bottles and choose the humble bar soap instead. Bar soap is usually packaged in recyclable cardboard which is a much more environmentally-friendly alternative to liquid body wash. At some health shops and markets, locally-made natural bar soap doesn’t come in any packaging at all which is the most zero waste option of all.
6. Shampoo and conditioning bars
Nowadays you can also buy shampoo and conditioning bars from brands such as Ethique and Shampoo With a Purpose that work just as effectively as the fancy-schmancy shampoo and conditioners that come in plastic bottles. Some shampoo bars contain sodium lauryl sulphate, a foaming agent that offers the soap sud effect but can cause irritation and derived from palm oil, so make sure to read the label if this is a concern for you. Alternatively, you can choose to go ‘no poo’ (no shampoo) if you feel that you don’t need to shampoo your hair or greasy hair isn’t a problem for you. The no poo method works especially well for curly hair.
7. Safety razor
Another way to reduce the plastic you consume on your travels is to switch to a stainless steel safety razor. They are reusable, built to last and the razor blades are also recyclable!
8. Reusable cutlery
Say no to single-use plastic forks, spoons and knives and take your own cutlery instead that can be washed and reused. If you’re travelling by plane, do not take metal cutlery with you as security will likely confiscate the fork and knife so invest in a bamboo cutlery set and you won’t have the frustrating experience of having to open up your luggage bags for airport security staff.
Also some people bring reusable bamboo or metal straws but for most people who don’t need a straw to drink their cocktails and beverages, a simple ‘no straw’ when ordering your drink will suffice. Just make sure to keep an eye out on the waitstaff to ensure that they don’t forget!
9. Reusable period products
Aside from plastic applicators and packaging, did you know that 90% of a conventional sanitary pad is plastic and that 6% of a tampon is plastic? So forgo the single-use period products and make the switch to reusable and washable period products such as menstrual cups, fabric pads and period panties. Check out this article for a comprehensive list to some of the best reusable period products on the market.
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Cover image via ready made.