Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the past couple of years, you will know our world has a plastic problem.
Sadly plastic pollution is everywhere. No country, no matter how remote has been spared.
When we travel, it’s so easy to forget that many countries don’t have the same facilities we are used to, and consumption of single use plastic creeps into our travel. Despite our well-meaning intentions back home, when we travel, it’s so easy to end up using far more plastic than we would like or need to.
But it’s possible to do something about it. I am here to tell you that it is possible to reduce our single use plastics when we travel.
Next time you pack, remember these 7 plastic free travel tips.
Having lived on the small 2km wide island of Gili Air in Indonesia for 15 months, we know the harm plastic causes. Living so close to the ocean, and diving all over Indonesia, we have seen for ourselves the devastating impact single use plastic has.
Yes it’s true, plastic is absolutely everywhere. Almost every single daily product in households all over the world are made from plastic. This is a whole other issue, but if we each do our bit and focus on reducing our own single use plastic usage, this will help tremendously.
Seriously for me, this is the biggest issue. On beach cleans, straws are everywhere and to be honest, they are unnecessary most of the time. Bars and restaurants hand out straws with cans of drink, I mean whaaaaaaaat?
Admittedly, cocktails are better with straws, and you do need them for a fresh coconut otherwise its darn near impossible to drink one!
Solution: Carry a straw with you! We have bamboo but you can use aluminium or paper straws.
I have been doing this about 10 years now, if not more. When I went shopping, I would put my groceries in a “bag for life”, and it’s just as easy to do this when you are away from home.
It’s all about adapting the way you think, and being prepared.
Solution: We always carry a canvas bag with us wherever we go. I do take things to the extreme, and I have a few different sizes, but this means I never leave home without one. Even when we’re going for sunset drinks, I still have a small bag folded inside my handbag.
In a lot of countries around the world, especially the places we have been visiting in Asia, you cannot drink the tap water. This means buying bottled water, and with no recycling facilities, these just end up in a huge pile either for landfill, or blowing into the ocean.
Many places offer refill stations. At airports, hotels, in restaurants, and all over the GIli Islands, there are many establishments offering you to refill your bottle for less than the cost of buying a new one.
Solution: Carry a water bottle with you. We both have an aluminium bottle, mine is 750ml, Sy has 1 litre so you can get different sizes to suit. There are many excellent bottles to choose from, some are plastic which for some people is fine as it’s still reducing single use plastic. For me personally, I didn’t feel right having a plastic bottle to refill when I bleat on about reducing plastic, but that’s just me. I would rather people have a plastic refillable bottle, than buy a new bottle every time.
If you like to eat street food, the chances are you will be given a set of plastic cutlery to eat with. In Chinatown, instead of reaching for the cutlery, learn to use chopsticks! It’s fun and a great way of being a part of a culture. Some Asian countries use their fingers, why not give that a go? When we found ourselves at a Muslim wedding in Malaysia, we joined in with the guests and ate like the locals.
Solution: If none of the above is for you, buy yourself a spork – half spoon, half fork. They are small, light, fit easily into your pocket or handbag, and if you enjoy camping, they are perfect for weekend trips! Since we purchased ours which is (sadly) plastic, we have found a stainless steel option yaaaaay.
Over 2 billion disposable razors are thrown away each year in the US alone, and millions more in the UK. When you buy a disposable razor, you are literally throwing your money away. Used only a few times then discarded, these lightweight razors mainly end up in our ocean.
Solution: If you buy yourself an electric shaver/razor, not only will you be reducing your single use plastic, but you will be saving money. An electric razor can last years, and you can buy one that can be used wet or dry to suit your preference.
Toothbrushes are the second largest waste generator after plastic bags. It is estimated that 3.6 billion plastic toothbrushes are used worldwide each year. Admittedly a toothbrush is used more than once, but if there is an easy alternative to buying plastic, it’s worth doing right?
Bamboo toothbrushes are:
- Usually sustainably sourced.
- All natural bamboo.
- Made out of biodegradable material.
- Typically come in compostable packaging (aka plastic-free! Woohoo).
- Full-out eco-friendly.
Solution: Buy a bamboo one instead. Simples. Bamboo grows very fast which makes it a sustainable resource.
This suggestion is more for you to use when you are at home, or for people living long term in another country.
This idea is to reduce polystyrene/plastic. If you are buying a take-away, it will be given to you in a polystyrene or polystyrene container which you will never use again.
Solution: Buy a re-usable food container. When you know you are getting a take away, carry your food container with you and ask for the food to be placed in there. This also works in your home country, if you are going to the supermarket to buy meat, veg or whatever, pop it into the food container instead of a plastic bag. Recently the UK supermarket Morrison’s started allowing customers to provide their own container for purchased deli goods. Hopefully more supermarkets will follow this example soon.
As you can see, these items are small and easy to pack. With a small change of mindset in your preparation process, you can easily be an eco-friendly, guilt-free traveller.
Do you carry any of these items with you when you travel? Has this post given you any inspiration? Have we missed anything - educate us! Talk to us in the comment section below!
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