Whether you’re going on a short road trip, taking a flight across the country, or just commuting to work, traveling of any kind can come with a list full of wasteful habits. Everything from the single-use coffee cups we use to stay awake during our trip to plastic bags that carry our snacks.
Traveling zero waste style means eliminating as many single-use and disposable products as possible by opting for reusable tools. If you don’t know where to start, we’ve listed a few earth-friendly swaps for the most wasteful, yet essential traveling products.
Reusable Water Bottles
Starting off with the most necessary of all, a reusable water bottle, to replace plastic water bottles while on-the-go. As we’re sure you’ve heard by now, plastic water bottles are major pollutants to our planet. For reference, 80% of them end up in landfills and leak toxic chemicals into the earth. Each day, the U.S throws away 60 million plastic water bottles.
Investing in a reusable water bottle is cost-effective since you only make one purchase, and the same bottle will last you for years.
Reusable Coffee Mugs
For starters, around 20 million trees are chopped every year just to produce our coffee cups. Unfortunately, most hot coffee cups have a plastic coating to keep the liquid from soaking through the paper, making them unrecyclable. When it comes to iced coffee cups, most of these plastic bottles and their lids are recyclable, but it’s certainly not a guarantee that everyone will do so.
Reusable coffee mugs are one of the easiest swaps to make and are more likely to keep your drink warm or cold throughout the day. When you go to the coffee shop, just ask your barista to fill your beverage in your reusable cup instead of their coffee cups. It’s as simple as that; no hassle, no issue, no waste.
When you’re on the road or even on an airplane, you’re most likely to use the plastic utensils they give you every time you sit down for a meal. When the U.S is using 40 billion plastic utensils every year, there really is no better time than to get your own reusable utensil set. It takes $15 to save thousands of plastic forks, knives, spoons, and straws from entering the landfill and further contributing to pollution.
Try using a utensil set that is made from a natural bamboo material that quickly degrades back into the earth once you’re done with it. However, that won’t be for quite a while since these reusable utensils are designed to be sustainable and durable enough to last years. Take your set with you on a picnic, to the beach, on an airplane, or on your next road trip, to make all your meals plastic-free!
Reusable Sandwich Bags
Many of us grew up with our parents packing our sandwiches or chips in Zipper type bags, which never seemed to be much of a problem until starting a zero waste journey. As it turns out, the average household goes through 500 plastic sandwich bags in one year. It’s possible to reuse a plastic sandwich bag, but probably only a few times since you can’t throw it in the wash.
Instead, opt for a reusable sandwich bag, made from a cotton material that can be used thousands of times. Pack your snacks, enjoy on-the-go, flip the bag inside out, and throw it in the wash; it’s that easy. You’ll never have to go out and buy another box of single-use plastic bags, and you’ll reduce your own footprint by cutting out another form of plastic.
If cotton sandwich bags are not your thing, use a silicone bag that will last you the rest of your life. These heavy-duty bags are air and water tight and work great for all types of food. Sandwiches, pastas, soups, and any other leftovers can be carried without worry thanks to the simple closing slider on top. They are also microwave and dishwasher safe.
Reusable Lunch Box
We’ve been used to plastic lunch boxes for quite a while now, but it’s time to switch to a material that’s more sustainable. Plastic lunch boxes can be reused, but what happens to them when your child or yourself needs a new one? Once it’s thrown away, it’ll take hundreds of years for each lunch box to break down.
Look for a fun and practical reusable lunch box that you can take to work or on a trip. Make sure it is easy to clean because if you find it a chore to clean, you might be tempted to use disposable options for the ease of use factor.
Last but certainly not least, there’s always a replacement for those hotel shower products that come in plastic containers. Instead of using the hotel’s shampoo and conditioner and then throwing the plastic containers away at the end of your stay, bring your own bars! A 200-room hotel is likely to use 300,000 single-use plastic pieces per month if it’s at full capacity. Although the hotel products are usually free, they certainly don’t make your travel experience eco-friendly. Traveling with shampoo and conditioner bars is completely waste-free, and you’ll probably have some better hair days when you bring your own products!