We all have seen it: pictures of the most beautiful beaches in Bali, covered in tons of plastic waste, washed ashore from the Indian Ocean.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
An estimated 8 million tons of new plastic waste enters the ocean every year, in addition to the 150 million tons that are already drifting in our marine waters. A devastating number!
We all agree that we have to act, as soon as possible. Back home it’s usually easier to act environmentally friendly. We know how things work and have our daily routine in keeping the impact as little as possible.
But how is it when we’re traveling?
What possibilities do we have to reduce our plastic footprint and what can we do to avoid falling into the trap?
Here are 7 great tips on how to reduce your plastic waste while traveling.
1. Buy a refillable water bottle
There is one thing that we all need in order to survive: drinking water.
Luckily we can buy bottled water in any supermarket or shop but is the single usage of a plastic bottle really necessary?
The easiest thing is to get yourself a refillable water bottle. Nowadays they are available in all sizes and colors. Whether it’s aluminum, stainless steel, copper or BPA-free plastic bottle is your personal choice.
Unfortunately, tap water isn’t the recommended choice in every country.
But by carrying your bottle with you and refilling it regularly, you can reduce or even avoid to buy any single-use bottled water. Try to use the filling stations at airports, water dispensers in hotels or drinking water stations in guesthouses and cafes.
If you’re not a fan of the hard water bottles, simply buy a collapsible one. If it’s empty, it can be folded and fits in every bag!
2. Don’t use toiletries in plastic bottles
Think about it: shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, deodorant, and toothpaste – all our cosmetic products have their own plastic packaging.
Time to change your mindset!
There are great solid cosmetic products on the market, for all our needs. Buy a solid soap, shampoo- and conditioner-bars and solid deodorant. The environment will thank you!
Even dental care can be done environmental-friendly: toothbrushes made of wood and bamboo and the matching toothpaste-tabs are a great alternative to our commonly used plastic products.
A great brand to buy your plastic-free toiletries from is “Lush”. Their products are not only environmental-friendly but also “against animal cruelty”.
Avoid buying separate travel size products and stop using free toiletries in hotel rooms – they only create additional unnecessary plastic waste.
Say goodbye to plastic in the bathroom!
3. Bring your own cutlery and a food container
It may sound a bit strange but if you think about it: why not?
Whether you order your take away food or try out some street food stalls, you’ll usually get plastic packaging and plastic cutlery. And especially take away packaging from restaurants are often made of Styrofoam – a material that’s not only harmful to the environment but also to your health.
Just get your own little set of cutlery and a Tupperware container and make it a habit to bring it. Some locals may have to get used to that first but that shouldn’t bother you.
4. Say NO to plastic straws and plastic bags
We get them everywhere and we’ve become so used to it that sometimes we don’t even notice. There is a straw in every cocktail, juice or soft drink and often we realize too late, that we don’t even need it.
An immense amount of our plastic waste consists of these plastic straws. Unless we do really need a straw to be able to drink, we should stop using them.
Think about it next time when ordering and simply request “no straw”.
Or how about your own reusable straw? Nowadays you can get them out of bamboo, stainless steel or glass.
A similar situation happens in the supermarket. Whatever we buy, ends up in a plastic bag – especially in Asia! Always think twice if you need another additional plastic bag or simply bring your own bag with you.
Speaking of your own shopping bag.
Especially on the local market, you should always bring one with you. Otherwise, your fresh fruits will end up in a plastic bag again.
5. Buy drinks in glass bottles instead of cans
When it’s hot outside and you’re thirsty, you want to have your cold drink as soon as possible.
But take a minute before ordering or opening the fridge. In countries without a bottle or can deposit, all of them will end up in the garbage.
If there is an alternative like a glass bottle for the can of your choice, go for it!
6. Choose Green
Try to be as “green” as possible when traveling.
Inform yourself in advance about hotels, resorts or travel agencies that are environmentally friendly or are committed to the local community. By booking with them, you can support their projects and contribute to a good cause.
It’s also a great opportunity to get in touch with like-minded people. Having the same mindset and sharing a passion can create friendships or projects and ideas for the future. You never know who you will meet!
Only together, as a community, we are strong enough to bring the change that we desire.
Do you want to know more about Ecotourism?
Read Ecotourism – Definition, Criteria, and Benefits and find your next green vacation destination!
What do you do to reduce your plastic usage when traveling?