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Tips to Reduce Waste While Traveling

Previously on my blog I have talked about how I am on a journey to reduce the amount of waste I generate. My reasons for doing this center around the fact that I am working on a degree in environmental studies and am very passionate in living a life focused on the idea that it is humans responsibility to preserve the environment so it can provide resources for further generations. If you are interested in reading more about my response for certain environmental issues check out my blog post An Environmental Studies Student's Response to No Toys For Christmas. I also have a blog post on How to Limit Your Waste During the Holidays.

Tip #1

This first tip is one that I highly recommend and have found to be very useful in my efforts of reducing the amount of waste I generate while traveling. By making a packing list and checking your luggage twice to make sure you have everything and anything you might need. Doing this you can decrease your chances of having to purchase something that you already own and forgot at home. When traveling to a hotel it is always a good idea to bring your own plastic free bar of soap.

Tip #2

If your are flying download your boarding pass instead of printing it or having it printed for you at the airport. When you print your boarding pass at the airport it is usually placed in a paper folder. Even though you can recycle both the boarding pass and the folder, it is better overall if you can avoid the use of paper by having a electronic copy.

Tip #3

My third tip is to bring your own silverware. Wether that be bamboo silverware or metal silverware, they are both an easy solution to refrain from using plastic silverware. Most restaurants in airports or the fast food restaurants that only provide plastic silverware. Check out my blog post Favorite Zero Waste Products For Beginners to see the bamboo silverware that I love and always make sure to take with me while traveling. 

Tip #4

Going along with silverware, I also recommend bringing your own cloth napkin and hand towel. For a year now I have carried a hand towel with me every where I go and have almost completely stopped using paper towels. Update: I also carry a handkerchief with me as well to avoid using tissues.

Tip #5

Wether your are flying or driving, I cannot stress it enough how easy it is to bring a reusable water bottle. Using a reusable water bottle omits the use of single use plastic water bottles. When flying I recommend bringing a water bottle with a screw off lid or one that does not have a straw. You can learn from my mistake of having water gush all over me due to the pressure change after take off on the airplane. When traveling with a water bottle on an airplane make sure it is empty when you go through security.

Tip #6

Another way to reduce single use plastic while traveling is by packing your own snacks. Some waste free snack ideas are fresh fruit and bulk bid items. Some of the meals that I have taken through airport security and have had no problems with are oatmeal (once through security I go to a restaurant that sells coffee and ask them to put hot water directly into my reusable container with the oatmeal), fresh fruit, salad, and trail mix. I also found a great YouTube video for other ideas Healthy Travel Food Hacks (Vegan + Airport Friendly).

Tip #7 

Continuing with the theme of food and traveling, by not ordering a complementary drink on the plane you are reducing your use of single use plastic. Most airlines do not recycle the plastic cups used to serve the drinks. If you do need to get a drink on the plane I would recommend taking the cup with you and either finding a recycle bin in the airport or once you have landed at your final destination. The same rules apply for refusing the complementary snacks handed out on the plane. Sometime the flight attendances will let you get just the can and will listen to your request for no napkin or plastic cup. Just make sure to ask!!

Tip #8

Something that I have yet to put into practice, but plan to do for the future; is to pack two reusable grocery bags into my suitcase. They do not take up much space in a suitcase because they lay flat. If you plan to grocery shop while on vacationing having reusable bags with you is a great way to abstain from the use of plastic grocery bags. And depending on where you are traveling to, some states have banned the use of plastic bags and if you don't already have reusable bags with you then you might end up having to purchase new ones.

Tip #9

Moving away from the food related tips, I have tip to reduce your waste when it comes to entertainment while traveling. This tip I am calling BYOB. Bring Your Own Book that is! By bringing a library book, ebook or used book you can avoid the need to purchase a magazine or a new book at the airport or rest stop. 

Tip #10

My last tip for how to reduce your waste while traveling is to have a minimalist mindset while shopping. I am guilty of not following this myself. When vacationing people are more likely to fall victim to impulsive purchases. I know that it is really hard to resist shopping while traveling, but how I think of it is that it is a time for me catch up and have meaningful conversations with my family or the people I am with. I also take the time to look for clothing ideas and then look on ThredUp for similar clothing ideas. I will say that one touristy purchase I make is an all silver key chain when I go to a new state. To me this is a collectable item that I display in my room and is something that I am not quite ready to give up when it comes to the changes I am making environmentally and for my minimalistic lifestyle. For more on what ThredUp is and how it relates to sustainability check out my blog post Honest Review of ThredUp. In that blog post I also have a coupon code that you can use for your first purchase.

Check out my other blog posts about sustainability:

How to Limit Your Waste During the Holidays

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