By definition, travel is full of disposable products. Disposable products can help you pack light, save space, and they're a no-brainer on your packing list. And how cute are all the mini shampoo bottles, toothbrushes, and hairsprays lined up in the travel items aisle? Almost too cute to refuse. But travel can create a lot of waste, and that's where the zero waste travel movement has come from. So what is zero waste travel? Is it hard? Should you try it?
Yes, You Should Try Zero Waste Travel!
Choosing to travel zero waste can be as simple as being mindful of what you choose to buy and pack, and the impact those choices have on the big picture. Though the idea of packing all your necessities up for a trip AND avoiding waste while you're at it can seem daunting - it can be done, and it's probably easier than you think it is.
So What is Zero Waste Travel?
Zero waste travel is an offshoot of the zero waste movement. Essentially, living zero waste is about being mindful about the trash you produce, and getting creative about making more sustainable switches. Disposable plastic water bottles to mason jars, plastic laundry bottles of liquid laundry detergent to glass jars of powdered laundry detergent, and so on. Minimizing the waste you produce on the road is part of choosing to travel in a more sustainable way.
Step One: Look A Little Closer
The first step on your zero waste travel journey is start recognizing the waste around you - maybe for the first time. It takes a bit of a perspective shift, but once you start, it's hard to stop. Look in your fridge at the pre-sliced vegetables that came in a plastic tray, or in the bathroom at your plastic toothbrush and disposable shampoo bottles. We're so used to seeing single-use plastic that most of us don't even think about it. But luckily, there are a lot of easy solutions to minimize the amount of waste we produce.
Travel Necessities: Easy Zero Waste Switches
Toiletries are probably the biggest zero waste travel switch. Most toiletries already come packaged in layers of plastic, but travel toiletries are even worse. One easy switch? Use shampoo bars, conditioner bars, and soap bars instead of their liquid counterparts. There are lots of great brands that make bars for every hair type, and not only does this eliminate plastic from the picture, but bars are actually lighter and last much longer since they don't contain water! Win-win.
Another easy switch is to think about zero waste when it comes to food while you travel. From pre-packaged snacks to produce bags to plastic water bottles, there's a lot of switches to be made. Luckily, it's pretty easy! Bring a reusable water bottle that you can fill up in the airport, in your hotel, or at restaurants. If the water isn't safe to drink where you're traveling, bring a water filter. Bring a reusable shopping bag, and head to local markets to support the local economy and avoid plastic packaging. Bring some small, reusable backs for snacks, and travel utensils that you can reuse.
Zero waste's champion, Lauren Singer, even makes sure to download her boarding pass on her phone to avoid printing it, and to travel with only a carry-on because of the paper luggage tags airlines put on checked bags.
Click here for your full zero waste packing list!
Deciding to adopt zero waste travel isn't about being perfect - it's about doing your best to make changes the benefit the world around you.
What's the easiest zero waste switch for you - and what's the hardest? Let us know in the comments!