After traveling the world, one thing I have noticed everywhere I go is that there is plastic. Lots of plastic. Sometimes beaches full of plastic. It’s so disheartening to visit these places and realize that I’m contributing to the problem—tourism can take a toll on a country’s resources and cause more pollution. This is why I have made a commitment to try and travel (mostly) plastic-free. I’m not perfect by any means, but there are some pretty simple things you can do in order to cut down on your usage.
Here are 5 ways I’ve found you can go for plastic-free travel and still enjoy your time abroad.
1. Invest in an electric toothbrush
Yes, I know this seems like a silly one, and electric toothbrushes aren’t always cheap. However, you can find some decent ones for reasonable prices and avoid having to throw yours out abroad when the bristles are worn down. The one I got from Fairywill is rechargeable, which also saves me from throwing out batteries, as well. Not only do you get a cleaner mouth, but you are cutting down on the amount of plastic that can’t easily be recycled.
2. Take along a tote
It might seem like a pain to bring along an extra bag in your suitcase, but if you are planning on doing any shopping while abroad, a tote can be great way to save on plastic baggies. There are plenty of travel-themed ones that also make a statement, which in a win-win in my opinion. Most are also small enough that they shouldn’t take up too much room in your checked luggage, as well.
3. Invest in a reusable water bottle and purchase iodine tablets
One of the biggest issues our planet faces? Too many plastic water bottles. While some countries have provided infrastructure for recycling, many still don’t have the necessary resources. What’s worse, in many place you have to drink bottled or boiled water in order not to get sick. Solution? Bring your own reusable water bottle and purchase some iodine tablets or a water filtration system. It’s a small expense for being able to avoid plastic water bottles—especially in hot and humid areas where you will constantly have to purchase a new one.
My recommendation for a water bottle? The not-cheap but indestructible Hydro Flask. $40 seems like a lot, but it will last you for pretty much ever. Think of how much money you’ll save from having to buy cases full of plastic water bottles!
4. Choose local dishes at restaurants
When you order dishes that aren’t native to a certain area, you are contributing to the amount of plastic it takes to import certain ingredients. While it might be tempting to insist on a burger when you’re in India (and good luck finding one), it also takes a lot of gas and plastic packaging in order to get that burger to you. You’re also probably missing out on some incredible local dishes. Food is a main reason to travel, so waiting on the burger until you get home can help you cut down on plastic consumption and expose your palate to a number of new meals.
5. Bring your own toiletries
Hotel toiletries are super convenient, but they are also often thrown away after one or two uses. Many hotel chains are required to replace shampoo, conditioner, and lotion bottles even if they have barely been opened. After a while, this leads to hundreds of discarded plastic bottles.
If you can, choose to bring your products with you instead. I am a big fan of Lush, which offers some shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel bars that you can stick in your carry-on bag. Not only are they delicious, but they also plastic-free and planet-friendly.
Traveling plastic-free doesn’t have to be a burden. By making some small changes, you can lessen the impact you have on a local environment. Over time, these changes can add up!
How do you travel plastic-free? Any special products you use?