Thank you so much to Alex for this freelance contribution!
Alex is a Montana-born traveler and writer. She is currently a New York dreamer living in Brooklyn, encouraging sustainable travel for millennials. You can read more about her travels at The Wayfaring Voyager. You can also follow her on Instagram at @wayfaringvoyager.
If you’re like me, you might love heading to new places, but you might not love how much waste you end up using while you are traveling. Tourism can end up leading to a lot of used plastic that you might not expect, such as toiletry bottles in hotels, plastic water bottles, and more. As someone interested in sustainable tourism, I often feel guilty about the amount of plastic I end up using on my journeys. However, there are some ways for you to avoid contributing to the amount of waste in your chosen destination.
Here are 5 ways I’ve found to reduce the amount of plastic I used when I travel.
1. Invest in a reusable water bottle
When most people travel, they tend to use plenty of one-use water bottles, especially if they are headed to hot and humid climates. It’s important to hydrate when you are flying or you are on the road, but by investing in a bottle that can be refilled, you can end up saving a lot of plastic. There are plenty of great bottles now designed for travelers that are lightweight and allow you to stick them in a bag. You can find one for almost every budget and activity, which makes it easy to avoid using plastic and keep yourself quenched.
2. Avoid using hotel toiletries
While the toiletries provided by the hotel you are staying at can be incredibly convenient, they are also often discarded after one use. Even if you only use half a bottle of shampoo, they are often required to throw them away. The best thing to do is find travel bottles at your local pharmacy or dollar store that you can refill. It’s even possible to buy shampoo and bath soaps in solid form, which can be easier to transport in a suitcase—and you can carry them on an airplane.
3. Purchase reusable dishware
If you are on a road trip, then you can avoid adding waste by purchasing some plates and cups that can be reused. Over the course of a trip, you can not only save yourself money, but you also are saving paper and plastic by washing what you already have. You might also want to consider looking into buying a set of Tupperware, which can allow you to not only store food for later, but you can also use it as dishware on your next trip.
4. Shop at local markets
When you choose to eat at local markets, you are avoiding the use of packaging that it might have taken to transport food. Not only do you get to sample some of the local fruits and
vegetables, but you are also choosing options that avoid the excess plastic used to bring items from one area to another. Local restaurants are also the best places to eat when you are trying to create less waste, since take-out and fast food is often wrapped in plastic or other materials that can’t be recycled.
5. Bring along a reusable shopping bag
Like a reusable water bottle, a shopping bag can be a cheap way to avoid using plastic. Both cotton or canvas bags are often perfect for carrying souvenirs or food items that you might want to take home with you. They also fold easily and you can put them in your checked luggage. Nearly 500 billion plastic bags are used per year, so even something a small as carrying a canvas bag can make a big difference.
Being a more sustainable traveler often just requires making small changes for big impact. With these tips, you can help the environment while exploring the world.
All images in this post are free stock photos from Creative Commons.