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Everyday sustainability in a throw away society 

  • Writer's pictureBrittany Ainsworth

25 Sustainable Tips for Zero Waste Travel

Zero Waste travel can seem like a far-fetched idea but by following these tips you can definitely achieve in making your next trip a more sustainable one.

1. Plan for anything: Zero Waste travel aims to be prepared for every situation. Whether it be a napkin to pick up a plastic free snack at a street stall or using your reusable carry bag instead of plastic. Being prepared with the essentials helps you to avoid unnecessary plastic during your travels.

2. Experiences not things: During your Zero Waste travel save your money for experiences you’ll remember forever instead of tacky souvenirs which will end up thrown into the donation pile.

3. Go paperless: Many airlines offer e-tickets which can be downloaded straight to your phone to avoid printing. You can also refuse paper receipts, check into hotels and book activities online this way too.

4. Dirty Undies: Unless you’ve packed a pair of underwear for everyday of your vacation, you may need to do some laundry. Bring along a little bar of soap and do your own in the sink, then hang your clothes on every available surface in your room to air dry.

5. Flying high: If you are jet setting to your destination have a read of 10 Tips for a Zero Waste Flight for tips on trying to stay sustainable during your flight.

6. Snacks: Sample the local food by heading to the markets for your day trip snacks. This is a great way to avoid packaged foods and stay healthier too. You could even do some research before you go to find some bulk options in the area.

7. Love all the animals: Not Zero Waste but still important! It may be hard to resist riding an elephant or having your photo taken with a tiger cub but these animals are enslaved for your entertainment. Avoid any activities involving animals, unless it’s visiting or volunteering at a qualified animal sanctuary or shelter. Just do your research before you go please!

8. Drinking Water: Bringing a reusable water bottle with you is a great start to attempting Zero Waste travel. If the water in the country you’re visiting isn’t portable ask around at restaurants or your hotel to find a free refill.

9. Do Not Disturb: Hotels will normally offer a daily cleaning service of your room, including changing the sheets and towels. How often do you wash these at home? Definitely not everyday! Hang the ‘do not disturb’ sign on you door to avoid the unnecessary laundry.

10. BYO: We all love miniature stuff but do you really need to use the tiny individually wrapped hotel soap? Feel more comfortable and bring your own toiletries with you. If you’re worried about liquids leaking in your check-in bags, have a look at buying some shampoo and conditioner bars. You can also have a peek into what I bring on my Zero Waste travels in my post Zero Waste Toiletries for Sustainable Travel.

11. Animal products: Another note on saving the animals is not to buy shells, coral or animal products as souvenirs. You can’t know for sure if they have been ethically sourced or caught and killed for a couple of extra bucks.

12. The ultimate Multi-use Item: Whether you bring one with you or buy one as a souvenir, a sarong is the best travel companion. You can use it as a dress, towel, blanket, head shawl or make sift carry bag.

13. Slip Slop Slap: Before you begin slathering on that sunscreen check the label, it may have ingredients which can actually damage the beautiful coral you are there to see! Find natural sunscreen products here.

14. Insect repellent: Along with sunscreen, insect repellent can have some nasty chemicals in them too. Check out some natural alternatives at Biome.

15. Entertainment: Forget buying trashy magazines at the airport when you can download podcasts, movies and books all to your phone! If you’re a book lover and prefer a physical book, look into second hand options. Many cafes and backpackers have lending libraries you can browse through.

16. Explore: Chuck on your comfy walking shoes and get lost! The best way to explore is to walk around or even hire a bicycle for a cute day out. Don’t worry public transport will save your feet once you get tired.

17. Relax: Enjoy your meal by eating in at restaurants to avoid single use plastics used for takeaway. Why not take advantage of the free Wi-Fi or soak up the atmosphere by people watching.

18. Get involved: If you’ve got some spare time, do some research and get involved in any sustainable or volunteer projects in the area. Trash Hero has groups all over the world who conduct clean-ups each week, check out Koh Samui Beach Clean Up for details on my personal experience.

19. Ladies: If you haven’t already, look into Zero Waste menstrual products, they will change your life. Travelling with a menstrual cup and/or reusable pads eliminates the need to bring multiple disposable items and stress about having to find more in a foreign country.

20. Efficient Packing: Instead of packing an outfit for every occasion bring clothes which you can easily layer to suit every climate. This saves you from lugging round single use items which you may not even end up using and decreases your carbon emissions on flights too.

21. Look but don’t touch: When you finally get to jump into the water to explore the underwater paradise, keep in mind to protect yourself and your surroundings. Whether your snorkeling, diving or simply swimming in the ocean, you should watch where your fins are going, don’t touch the coral or wildlife and most importantly soak it all in!

22. Eco-friendly tourism: To make sure you get the most out of your trip whilst protecting the environment you’re there to see, only book with eco-friendly providers. Do your research and find out which tours and hotels have sustainable practices, have a look on their websites or ask them directly.

23. Zero Waste Kit: Packing a couple of reusable items allows you to evade trash ‘on the go’ and to pick up any Zero Waste goods you find on your way without surrendering to plastic packaging. Check out Zero Waste Kit for some ideas on what reusable items to bring for Zero Waste travel.

24. Souvenirs: Do your friends and family really need another plastic fridge magnet to remind them that they didn’t get to on fantastic trip with you? Send them a postcode instead, not wrapped in a plastic sleeve of course. It’s cheap gift that doesn’t weight your bag down and it also shows that you’re thinking of them while you’re away. You can even send a postcode from the top of Mt Fuji!

25. Leave No Trace: If you do end up with a bit of rubbish on your travels, don’t stress. Remember that no Zero Waste travel is perfect and to dispose of your waste appropriately even if it means keeping it in your back pocket for an entire mountain hike until you find a bin.

Do you have any other Zero Waste travel tips?

Let me know in the comments below!

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