Zero-Waste Tips for Travel

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Over the last few years, I’ve been slowly making lifestyle choices that reduce my waste and environmental footprint. It’s definitely easier to do when I’m in the comfort of my own home since I have the tools and set up to avoid using disposable packaging. However, I’m doing my best to translate those habits into my travels. Granted, I’m often taking a jumbo plane and driving places, but you do what you can. Here are my tips to avoid wasting and creating garbage while on the go.

Bring your own cup (and other gear)

I’m traveling through the UK right now and since Europe can be a little pricey, I’m cutting down on restaurants in favour of cooking at home and road-side picnics. I’m staying in Airbnbs in England, Ireland, and Scotland, so I packed all the tableware I’d need to eat a quick meal, even just with a kettle. I also have a reusable snack bag for a bite on the go. In my lunch kit, I have:

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My picnic gear in Ireland

I took a cue from my camping kit for some of the items here. So far it’s allowed me to make a quick bowl of rice, eat a salad on a ferry, pack some toast for breakfast on the road, and definitely, avoid at least five disposable coffee cups and water bottles.

Sustainable hygiene

Travel blogs often promote disposable items as travel-friendly. However, I’m almost always in favour of a little more bulk for a little less garbage. For example, you can swap disposable razors for a recyclable version, or better yet, an electric razor that creates no waste. If you use it dry, you’re not using any water, either. You can also choose to buy products with little packaging from the start. Lush, for example, sells a lot of their products with no packaging, so you have nothing to throw away when you’re done with it. One thing I feel is actually more convenient AND Eco-friendly is swapping pads and tampons for a menstrual cup and period panties.

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Wearing merino wool in Kansas
Wash less 

I know, everyone hates feeling grimy, but if you resist the temptation to shower twice a day and do laundry at every stop, you’d save a lot of water. To extend the wear of my clothes, I choose my fabrics carefully. I wear a lot of technical merino wool items because they don’t trap smells. Socks, underwear, bra are an especially good investment. I also really dig the Outdoor Voices merino wool items. Get $20 off your first purchase of $100+ more. You can also use things like dry shampoo to extend the lifespan of your last hair wash.

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Taking a break in Lisbon
Slow down

For many people, to-go cups are their biggest garbage sin. One latte a day and by the end of the month, you’ve filled a trash bag all to yourself. The same goes for any takeaway container and extra wrapping. One easy solution to avoid this extra garbage is to simply get the coffee to stay. Schedule in the time to take a break, eat in a restaurant, and use real tableware. Take the extra time to plan the next leg of your trip with the free WiFi. Hot tip: You can ask the waiter or waitress to not put a disposable plastic straw in your drink.

Happy Travels

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  • Hi Andrea, I too am continuously trying to up my zero-waste travel game. Love your suggestions. A travel mug and menstrual cup have definitely been my two most impactful changes this year. Currently, I’m working on the rest of my tablewear, I will check out your suggested products!

    • Andrea Zoellner

      That’s great! Thanks for sharing.