Green Up Your Travels With These Simple Eco-Friendly Swaps

Want to live a greener existence, but not sure where to start?

When I gave up plastic for a year, I was pretty eager to crack on with my project. One method I had success with, was writing a list of items that I would not use under any circumstances – and looking for alternatives.

Fancy doing the same? Well, here are five items that you too can eliminate the use of, with a few, simple eco-friendly swaps.

Related: My 7-Odd Favourite Eco-Friendly Travel Items


For me, straws are public enemy number one. I really can’t think of a more pointless item. What’s wrong with drinking straight from the cup?

Replace with: If you want a substitute, use a stainless steel strawinstead. You can also buyglass straws, but they’d probably be silly to take travelling. I usually pre-empt the situation by saying I don’t want a straw whilst ordering. This works 2/3 times… sometimes they forget and on other occasions, I’ve been presented with a straw when I haven’t expected one (such as with soup).

Wet wipes

Wet wipes are regularly worshipped as being an ideal addition to one’s travel toiletries bag. So multi-purposeful! You can use them to clean your face on planes, take your makeup off, or even wipe your bottom with them, in lieu of toilet paper!

Related: Here’s What is in My Eco-Friendly Toiletries Bag

Except – please don’t. Wet wipes are not biodegradable and are blocking up sewers worldwide, creating “fatbergs” that are sometimes having to be removed by hand.

[bctt tweet=”Here are some alternatives to wet wipes, which you can use whilst travelling #SustainableTravel”]

The ones that don’t go down the toilet, get to sit in landfill for probably all eternity.

Replace with: If you’re on the go, I would recommend a small, quick-drying hand towel – you can purchase some as a set with larger towels. That way you can wet it, give your face a scrub, rinse it and let it, well – quickly dry out! For make up, I apply Jojoba Oil onto a reusable cotton round and scrub it off with that – or sometimes I just wash my face with water and a flannel. I get pimples quite irregularly, so must be doing something right.
If you’re using them as a hygiene item, to keep your hands germ free – invest in a small soap tin and carry around a tiny bit of soap in that. Take your water bottle, wet your hands, scrub the soap and dry on your quick dry towel, or your trousers. Now you’re sanitised!


Soap is a good segue into mini-toiletries. You know those items that you can find in any drugstore/chemist/Boots that are small sized versions of deodorants, shampoos, conditioner, moisturiser, perfect for carry-on?! Oh, they’re so tiny and handy and guaranteed to be used once before being lost in the back of your bathroom cabinet forever.

Replace with: Containers, which you can decant your shampoo, moisturiser and the like into. These ones have their capacity written on them (so you won’t get caught out at airport security – it’s happened to me before) and you can write what’s contained in there on the bottle.

Related: An Eco-Adventure: Four Months Without Shampoo

Plastic bottles

Oh goodness, I go on about plastic bottles a lot, but not without good reason – I promise.

I don’t really understand why anyone would pay money for plastic bottles, when it’s so easy to use an alternative. It saves you money and is helpful to the environment – so why wouldn’t you do it?

Replace with: Any reusable drink bottle. For places where the tap water is undrinkable, consider a filtered alternative like Clearly Filtered or Lifestraw.

Plastic bags

Once again, plastic bags are silly, pointless and quite easily replaced. Just shove a reusable bag into your purse, suitcase or pocket and use it when you need it.

Replace with: I love my cotton tote and this set of bags are also a good place to start.

So there you have it – five items that can be swapped out quite simply for reusable alternatives. You’ll be saving money (and the planet) in no time at all.

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Want to green up your travels? Here are five items that you too can eliminate the use of, with a few, simple eco-friendly swaps.

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Posted by LC
January 22, 2017

LC can often be found nursing a cup of green tea, with her head in a book. She is a writer, video editor and professional cheese eater. Her life's aspiration is to one day live on a farm in Tasmania with 11 dogs, a Shetland pony and several pygmy goats.

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Rhiannon - January 22, 2017

I’m a guilty member of the straw party ? I have very sensitive teeth and so anything with ice is like hell to drink without a straw, but then I don’t like drinking certain things unless they’re ice-cold. SO hard to please! Although I do try and use my own reusable one as much as possible. It’s not stainless steel (didn’t even know they existed) but is that hard kind of plastic – you know what I mean? Still plastic but not quite as bad as the ones fast food restaurants give you. As for wet wipes, I found this great pattern for crocheted reusable make up pads and whipped myself up a few. Haven’t looked back since!

    LC - January 22, 2017

    Haha, I don’t mind too much as long as they’re reusable! My KeepCup is plastic, but I’ve had it for almost two years and I reckon it will last heaps longer. I think so long as it’s not disintegrating after the first use and negates the need to accumulate more plastic waste, then all is good. 🙂 You could make a business out of those makeup pads!

Shandos - January 22, 2017

Great to see someone highlighting how environmentally unfriendly many things are when travelling. I’ve also been delighted lately to find some hotels providing stylish toiletries in refillable bottles and providing (not just the budget chains with their all-in-one pink gunk).

    LC - January 22, 2017

    Haha I hate that pink gunk too, with a passion! I do appreciate the small steps too, like not re-washing towels every single day, which is pointless. I wash mine at home once a week!

Joaquim Miro - January 23, 2017

I could not agree more with all of these! We also try to travel while keeping the environment in mind and our carbon footprint as low as possible. Every time we get something we are offered plastic bags, and have to repeat many times “no plastic bags” hahaha. Thanks for the great post!
By the way did you know Bali will eliminate all plastic bags by 2018?

    LC - January 24, 2017

    That’s great news! I hope more countries continue to follow suit.

Ariane - January 24, 2017

Interesting and very helpful post. I like posts that somehow are a bit different! We should all try to be a bit “greener” during our travels!

The Travel Ninjas - January 24, 2017

We use the re-fillable plastic bottles for toiletries all the time. They’re great. They get through security’s liquid restrictions, we have the special shampoo and conditioners we need, and they’re a greener option.

    LC - January 24, 2017

    Yes, they’re great! I like these ones because it says how much they hold. My old set was confiscated because they “didn’t have the mls written on the bottle”, despite being tiny. Thanks, Dublin Airport!

Swati & Sam (talesoftraveler) - January 24, 2017

Never knew there exist a stainless steel straw/ glass straw as well. In India, straws are not very common unless you ask for it but I do prefer due to hygiene. But I love all your other useful alternatives while travelling. Wet wipes are saviors. I use coconut oil for removing makeup 🙂

    LC - January 24, 2017

    I’m not much of a fan of wet wipes – they don’t disintegrate and clog up drains! Coconut oil defo does the job too, but I just like Jojoba better.

Ami - January 28, 2017

Tick marking most of them except for those water bottles. I find the metal ones a little bulky but well, what is a little weight as compared to the whole contribution to the environment I am making. Will switch right away.

    LC - February 4, 2017

    I don’t see anything wrong with reusable plastic ones either… it’s single use stuff that we need to stop using!

Sandy N Vyjay - January 28, 2017

Good suggestions. There is so much that one can do at an individual level to contribute our mite towards help preserve the environment.

davide utravelshare - January 28, 2017

Actually this is one of the most interesting post I have been reading for too much time!! Eco friendly stuff while travelling instead of the usual hings we used to use! Great tips and I will consider to read again this post just before departing for my next jouney thanks

    LC - February 4, 2017

    Thanks Davide, striving to write about stuff beyond the norm, haha!

Soumya Nambiar - January 29, 2017

It is quite awesome that you have been plastic free for a year. I have been guilty of carrying a plastic bottle whenever I am traveling. But I will definitely look into finding better alternatives.

Winnie - January 29, 2017

I have honestly not thought about conservation measures I can take while traveling. Thanks for the insightful post. I found the tips most useful, will most definitely take them into consideration next time I’m traveling 🙂

Caroline @ The Travelling Sloth - January 29, 2017

My friend did the same thing as you (she went plastic-free as well). I would find it quite difficult so good on ya! I try not to use plastic bags as much as possible – I usually carry things in my day pack when I go to the shops. I’m not a fan of wet wipes! I find them quite annoying hahah. I usually scrub my eyeliner and lipstick off while I’m in the shower (I rarely use make up) and that works a treat for me!

I don’t think I’ve been making a conscious effort to reduce waste while travelling (or even at home). I need to improve on that! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    LC - February 4, 2017

    Thanks Caroline! It’s amazing what a good job water does with make up… and yes, it’s easiest to wear the bare minimum, to none at all. I’d be keen on hearing more about your friend!

Johana - January 30, 2017

Love what you are doing, It’s amazing that you are able to stick to eco-lifestyle even while traveling. Even though I am trying not to use plastic, plastic bottles still remain one of the things I am using heavily. You might be also interested in Bye Bye plastic bags campaign by two Indonesian sisters:

    LC - February 4, 2017

    I think what the Indonesian sisters are doing is great. I haven’t quite got there 100%, but striving towards it. 🙂

Therie - March 15, 2017

Shopping totes changed my life and whenever I forget to bring one with me when I go out it just doesn’t feel right. Great post!

    LC - March 15, 2017

    Agreed! If I don’t have one on me, I don’t buy anything, haha. Thanks Therie.

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