1. Pack Plastic-Free Travel Kit
With an estimated one billion plastic toothbrushes ending up in landfills in the US alone every year, biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes are a brilliant alternative. Cotton buds with plastic stems are also extremely destructive, with billions ending up in landfills around the world every year, and millions more flushed down toilets, from where they travel to the ocean. If you’re in the habit of storing your hiking boots and dirty clothes in plastic bags when you travel, consider reusable packing cubes instead – many outdoor clothing brands sell them.
2. Opt for Sustainable Hotels and Eco-Friendly Accommodation
Hotels committed to sustainability make it easier for you to avoid plastic by providing filtered water for your own bottle (some also provide reusable bottles if you forget your own) and offering an alternative to plastic straws at the bar. To combat the waste created by single-use shampoo bottles, an increasing number of hotels are also providing products in reusable dispensers – many hotel brands, for example, have vowed to replace mini toiletries with wall-mounted dispensers.
3. Wear Good Quality, Low-Impact Travel Gear
Technical travel clothing often contains harmful plastic microfibres that end up in the ocean after you wash your clothes. Fortunately, many companies now avoid this by making gear from sustainable, eco-friendly fibers, or alternatively create clothes out of reused plastic. Well-made garments also tend to last longer, which also helps to minimize plastic use. Read your favorite brand’s sustainability policy on their website before your next purchase; if it doesn’t have one, chances are the company is not aligned with the principles of sustainability.
4. Use Reusable Utensils
If you love to eat at markets and grab takeaways on the road, you’ve probably contributed your fair share of coffee cups, plastic containers and utensils to landfill (or the ocean). Limit your waste by investing in a reusable cup, bowl and cutlery set, and keep it in your daypack. Many gear brands sell lightweight and compressible options. You’ll still have to wash them, but if you have purified water at your disposal, it’s a minor inconvenience.
5. Join a Local Clean-Up
Give something back to the communities you visit by joining a beach or wilderness clean-up or take the initiative and rally fellow travelers to perform your own. Local dive centers regularly host clean-ups on Indonesia’s Gili Islands, and there is always a clean-up to be found at popular Australian beach destinations such as Sydney and Byron Bay – search Facebook Events for upcoming clean-ups in your destination.
6. Shop Locally
Supermarket chains are notorious for packaging food items in unnecessary plastic. You can avoid some of this by shopping at fresh produce markets (don’t forget your own reusable carry bag). The same goes for handicrafts – purchasing plastic-free goods directly from artists saves on the plastic packaging typically used to transport goods. And it benefits the local economy, too.
7. Choose Responsible Tour Operators
With the right tour operator, you can feel confident your provider is committed to reducing any negative impact a trip might have on the destinations you visit. This includes helping to minimize your use of plastic, from supplying reusable bags and potable water to serving boxed lunches in reusable or compostable packaging.