Just because 2016 is over, doesn’t mean I want to stop my experiment of living and travelling without using plastic.
Travelling plastic-free in particular, remains as a goal that is quite high up on my list. I would also like for it to remain as a permanent feature on this blog. Good thing I have jurisdiction over what goes on it, eh?
So, I’m putting together a little series in this month of January, which is aimed at helping you green up your travels, with as little effort as possible on your part.
I’ll also be posting tips on the Birdgehls Facebook page – give it a like and follow along.
I appreciate several things about the following items. The most obvious one is that they help reduce my plastic output. They’re also pleasing on the eye and can save you a wad of cash over time, which is quite lovely too.
So, if you’re wanting to reduce your environmental impact on the world, here are some items I recommend for eco-friendly travel.
Pack your own water bottle
Bottled water really has to be the biggest con of the last few decades – particularly when you’re encouraged to buy it in places where the tap water is drinkable.
Don’t forget to empty them when going through airport security – you can always fill them up on the other end. If you can’t find filtered water (shame on airports that don’t offer this service), then ask a staff member at a restaurant or bar to fill it up for you. At worst, I get them filled up on the plane itself. Although this is still coming from bottled water, I figure I’m at least saving several plastic cups in the process.
Bring something to sterilise water with
Of course, there are many countries you will travel to where the water will be undrinkable, least you want to contract some kind of horrible stomach disease. That sounds like fun – I know I enjoyed having that happen when I travelled to Cuba early last year.
I’ve used a SteriPEN or iodine tablets in countries with undrinkable water. However, this won’t help so much in cases where the water is brackish. In this circumstance, you’ll need it to be filtered, which is where bottles like Clearly Filtered or a reader’s suggestion of Lifestraw come in handy.
I admittedly have mostly travelled through countries that have fairly decent drinking water, so I’m still working on this one. Or, I’ve been in situations (like when I was horse trekking in Kyrgyzstan) where there was no water other than bottled water, as it was at the remote yurt camps we were staying at.
So, the jury’s out on which products are most effective, but I think a filtered bottle should definitely keep you covered.
A hanky can also double up as a napkin
One item I do swear by and always take travelling are my TSHU hankies (handkerchiefs).
They’re everything I love about a product – reusable, made with love by a small company (Canadian, in this regard) and attractive, to boot.
As a chronic sufferer of allergies with a silly immune system, I always need to have a hanky on hand. These babies have saved me from having to purchase countless packs of tissues. I also use them as napkins and wet wipes, in a pinch.
Try to boil them after use and before washing, to keep them sanitised. Although I’m guilty of not doing this often enough and I haven’t dropped dead, yet.
Bring a spork, to use in lieu of plastic cutlery
How handy are sporks?! Rhetorical question, as the answer is very.
They are a street-food lover’s dream implement, as they can be used to eat ice cream, as well as fork noodles into your gob. I also like to use mine when travelling long-haul, to avoid plastic cutlery.
Best of all, as they don’t have a serrated edge, you can take them in your carry on. Security staff may question them, but they’ll let you through once they see you’re holding an amalgamation of a fork and spoon, not a knife.Bring a spork so you don't have to use plastic cutlery whilst on the road #SustainableTravel Click To Tweet
Cloth bags for snacks on the road and a tote for shopping
I’m so glad totes are totes in fashion because I was totes stoked to find this totally cute tote. I’m done now. Promise.
Anyway, I use the tote for shopping, or in lieu of a purse. Honestly, finding a shopping bag that has a strap that goes across the body has revolutionised my life.
Along with the tote, I have a collection of cloth bags that I use for food shopping (particularly at farmer’s markets) and small cloth bags for snacks when travelling.
I’ve had some people in certain countries (here’s looking at you, Switzerland) refuse to put food I’ve wanted to purchase in the bag, because it is considered “unhygienic”. In those cases, I’ve usually just opted to go without. I didn’t need that chocolate, anyway.
An on the go, reusable coffee-cup, for flights and well… coffee
I really, truly love my KeepCup and not only because it’s Australian-made. It’s become one of my go to items for travelling, or even just taking a cup of tea with me on my commute to work (when I used to have a job, lol).
If you’re an avid coffee drinker, think about how many cups you can go through in a year… a week… even a day. You can drastically reduce your waste output with this one, single and simple swap to a reusable coffee cup.
I’ve used mine on planes as well, for juice, water and even red wine! I always get positive comments on it from members of airline staff, which is nice.
Limit sanitary waste with a menstrual cup
One of my favourite plastic-free items is my Lunette Menstrual Cup, which I’ve been using for almost two years and has saved me over $130 AUD in the process.
I hated packing stacks of pads and tampons into my bag when travelling (or trying to find some on the road) and don’t get me started on the bloody tampon tax, either. My cup slips into my toiletries bag, taking up little to no room and has saved my sanity on countless occasions. Take that, Australian government, with your endless disappointments and aggravations!
I’ve also trialled THINX Period Underpants. I don’t use them alone, but together, the two products have my periods covered.
So that’s it. The items that I always pack as a self-professed “green traveller” that have saved me money and limited the amount of plastic I use on a day-to-day basis. Most are small and pack away neatly and all can be taken in your carry-on, if that’s the way you like to travel.
Tune in later on this month for more posts about sustainable and plastic-free travel. And I know I sound like a broken record, but don’t forget to follow along on Facebook.
What are your favourite eco-friendly travel items?
This post contains affiliate links, to the products I use myself and therefore recommend to all other green travellers! Thank you for supporting my war on plastic.