5 Ways to Reduce Waste While Traveling

Even for the most eco-conscious among us, avoiding single-use plastic and fruitless waste while traveling is hard. If you don’t prepare ahead of time, it can be nearly impossible to stay environmentally-friendly while you’re on the go. Low waste travel is particularly difficult on airplanes and in airports, where plasticware is used to serve drinks and food, and everything is sold as single-use. But, it is possible to respect the environment during your vacay! Below are five ways to reduce waste while traveling.

1. Bring a reusable water bottle + coffee/tea cup

Reusable water bottles are likely already implemented in your day-to-day routine. Simply remember to bring your favorite bottle with you on your next trip to avoid buying disposable plastic ones! Aside from harming the environment, chemicals in plastic bottles can leach into the water causing negative effects on your health. Even if a water bottle is considered BPA-free, there are other harmful chemicals in plastics that have not been extensively studied. Most airports now offer refill stations where you can fill up your bottles after going through security and, during your flight, you can ask the flight attendant to refill water directly into your bottle.

When traveling via plane, it’s nice to also have one extra cup for other drinks, such as coffee or tea. This is my favorite reusable coffee cup and it comes in multiple sizes. But, when I’m traveling via plane, I like something leak-proof that I can throw in my bag without having to worry. There are lots of options, like this one for a non-glass, leak-proof version.


2. Pack your own reusable cutlery kit

Another way to reduce your plastic use inflight is by bringing your own reusable utensils. Include a fork, knife, spoon (or spork!) chopsticks, and a metal straw. When traveling, you can wash your utensils after each use in the sink with soap. There are tons of great options for reusable cutlery available on Amazon.


3. Invest in food storage containers

Instead of buying food on the go, invest in some lightweight containers and pack your own meals and snacks. I love these food containers because they are super lightweight and airtight. These reusable baggies are also great for packing snacks such as nuts, dried fruit and bread or sandwiches. Plus, reusable food containers can be used for leftovers when dining out during your vacation. Simply ask the restaurant to put your food in your container rather than a single-use one.


4. Bring an extra cotton tote bag

An extra reusable bag always comes in handy when you travel! I keep one in my purse, which allows me to decline a paper or plastic bag when shopping during my trip. Any reusable bag will do! Choose a tote that folds up tightly to preserve valuable space in your purse, suitcase or overnight bag.


5. Pack your own toiletries

Invest in a decent set of reusable containers for traveling so you can bring your own toiletries. Hotel hair and body care products are often filled with unwanted additives and add to plastic waste since the hotel staff tosses them in the trash each time a room is turned over. Luckily, some hotel groups such as IHG, are phasing out miniature toiletries and switching to refillable bulk amenities. It’s always an option to support businesses that are more environmentally-friendly, as well.


photo: Elaine Tu