Traveling is one way to take time off from every day life, but that time off shouldn’t come at the expense of the planet. While on-the-go it’s tempting to buy more single-use plastics such as cutlery, toiletries, and food wrappers, but a little preparation goes a long way when it comes to cutting down on plastic waste while traveling.
In its series Planet or Plastic? National Geographic recently detailed some strategies and tips for traveling in a more environmentally conscious way in the article “How to Take Your Next Trip Without Single-Use Plastics.” Columnist, Marie McGrory traveled to Belize for nine days and only used four single-use plastic items compared to saving 79. Even on smaller trips, some of her tips could be useful:
1. Pack reusable bags, cutlery, and containers. Some containers can even collapse when not in use to save space. And, of course, bringing your eco straw will help you cut down on even more plastic waste.
2. Bring bar soap and shampoo to avoid using plastic bottles. The best part is, bar soap and shampoo doesn’t have to be smaller than 3 0z. for security since they aren’t liquids.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask. This tip is probably the most difficult part. Most restaurants will bring out straws automatically unless you ask, and many stores will bag your groceries in plastic without a second thought. Encouraging businesses to cut down on that kind of waste starts with stepping up to show them alternatives.
4. Bringing your own water bottle is definitely the way to go. National Geographic suggests bringing two, and bringing a water sanitizing pen, but, if you absolutely have to buy water, buy it in gallon quantities, or get 12 oz. bottles and reuse them. By sucking the air out of a 12 oz. bottle and blowing it back up to fill it again, you can turn it from a single-use plastic into an easily transportable multi-use plastic.
5. One example of how to avoid plastic comes in the form of one of the most fun tips. Get an ice cream cone instead of a cup. You avoid the waste of the cup and the plastic spoon needed to eat it! It’s always a good time when you get to indulge in a cone while helping the planet.
Overall, it’s way less daunting to avoid single-use plastics on vacation than it originally seems. Traveling should be a time when you’re living your best life, and living your best life for longer involves helping the planet live its best life too.