If you’ve ever seen this TED talk, in which environmental scientist Lauren Singer presents a mason jar and explains that it contains ALL of the waste she produced in three years, you might feel like living zero waste is all but impossible. From plastic packaging to disposable toothbrushes, waste is all around us.
Luckily, moving in the direction of zero waste doesn’t have to be that hard. If you’re looking to scale back on waste during your next trip, we’ve put together your ultimate zero waste packing list. Safe travels!
Reusable Water Bottle
As a seasoned traveler, you know that it’s important to stay hydrated while you’re on the road! Airplane travel just has a unique way of dehydrating you. Paired with the often-inevitable sleep deprivation and long days that travel brings, carrying water is a necessity!
Opt out on single-use plastic water bottle, and bring along your own stylish reusable water bottle! The benefit of carrying your own bottle, too, is that you’ll always be able to refill it at water fountains or restaurants.
Say what? No worries, you won’t get splinters. There are a wide variety of wooden toothbrushes to choose from – from charcoal-infused to custom-made, and all of decompose (unlike their plastic counterparts).
Transparent Toiletry Case
Ditch the throwaway plastic bags for airport security and replace them with a transparent, reusable toiletry case.
Metal or Recycled Razor
Disposable razors are a staple in many people’s showers, but those plastic handles contribute to a large amount of plastic waste. Luckily, they’re easy to replace with more sustainable options. Opt for a metal handle, or plastic handles made of recycled plastic.
Straw bans have swept the globe in recent years. If you’re traveling to a country where plastic straws are in the process of being eliminated, bring your own reusable straws. Bringing your own reusable straws can also spark conversation! They are the perfect addition to your zero waste packing list.
Snack or Sandwich Bag Alternatives
If you’re a savvy traveler, you likely pack your own snacks ahead-of-time. You’re smart! We like it. Next, simply is swap out plastic sandwich bags with reusable containers. Beeswax wraps are a popular way to wrap snacks. There are also many waxed canvas or reusable plastic alternatives.
Bar Shampoo, Conditioner, and Soap
Travel-sized toiletries are undeniably adorable, but unfortunately very wasteful. Additionally, they’re way less cost-effective than other options. Bringing along bar shampoo, conditioner, and soap is a great way to save space, money, and the environment. Bonus: bars last a lot longer than liquids, and they’re lighter!
This zero-waste packing list hack can apply at home, too. Replace your plastic-handled hairbrush with a hairbrush that has a wooden handle. When you do eventually toss your hairbrush, the wood can decompose.
Reusable Shopping Bag
There are so many benefits to bringing along an extra bag when you travel. You can pick up some local produce at the farmer’s market, or use it as a kind of day pack. Bringing a reusable bag means you can pass on more wasteful options, like single-use plastic bags.
Bring Reusable Containers for Snacks or Leftovers
Depending on the length of your trip, you might be eating out frequently or cooking (if you have access to a kitchen). Instead of letting the restaurant box up your food for you in a disposable container, just bring your own (in your reusable bag!). There are some great collapsible containers that take up minimal space.
You don’t always know when or where you’ll eat next when you’re traveling. But if you packed your travel utensils, you’ll always be prepared to say no to plastic spoons or forks. No need to eat with your hands!