Zero Waste Travel


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A Starter Guide to Zero Waste Travel & How to Pack for It


It is time to combine the fun with ecological awareness! If you have a passion for traveling but you also want to help the environment along the way, you are in the right place. Zero waste travel has become a popular way of traveling.  Adventurous travelers who are knowledgeable about the hurtful impact that excessive waste has on our planet found a solution in zero waste travel. However, even the zero-waste enthusiasts see this as a challenge if they don't prepare right. That is why this guide will tell you a little more about zero waste travel and what you need to go through it successfully.


Why is Zero Waste Travel Important?

The environmental movement that is zero waste has changed the viewpoint of many. No one can look the other way when it comes to dangerous climate change. That is why people are determined to make some change and try to reduce the damage that humans have created.  Travelers are a source of lots and lots of waste since everything revolves around temporary items that you can use and throw away. From carbon emissions from different transportation to take away plastic and bags. Excessive waste is accumulating.  This leads us to the importance of zero waste travels. Zero waste is a lifestyle. Once you embrace this philosophy you'll be practicing it everywhere. The thing is that traveling puts you in unpredictable situations and distances you from your home where everything is adapted to zero waste life.  That doesn’t mean that zero waste travel is impossible. It just means that it takes some preparation. 


How to Pack for Zero Waste Travel

You don't need to put the pressure on yourself to travel completely zero waste. Especially if you are at the beginning of the zero waste journey.  What you can do is to travel with as low waste as it is possible.

For that Purpose, you’ll need to Pack the Following:

Make Some Room

Zero waste travel demands some space in your luggage. That means that if you are traveling light you’ll have to forget about a dozen outfit changes.  Think clearly about what you truly need and what you just want to carry. For zero waste travel, you have to focus on the needs and eliminate the wants.

Reusable Water Bottle with Filter

Let’s start from the bare essential – the water bottle. During your travels buying one bottle of water after another used to be a necessity. But not anymore.  All you need is a reusable water bottle. But not just any reusable bottle. Try to get the one that has a filter in it.  You can’t know whether the tap water is drinkable in all the places where you are traveling to. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you have to buy plastic bottles to refill your water bottle.  The Huffington Post presented some of the best reusable water bottles with filters in their article so check it out for some recommendations.  An alternative for the filter is water purification tablets. So, pick the option that works best for you.


When you feel like taking a hot cup of coffee to go, you’re going to need your thermos. Thermos will keep your drink warm and you won't need to throw away to-go cups.  Make sure to ask the barista if they can pour your coffee in your own cup. Emphasize this right away when you make the order.  A thermos can come in handy in many situations because they can keep your drink warm and fresh for hours.

Cloth Bag

Whether you are going to the market, to the beach, or buying souvenirs you'll need your own shopping bag. A cloth bag is a useful item that you'll reach out for numerous times during your traveling adventures.  “Plastic bags can be the biggest temptation during travels. That is if you don't have your own cloth bag. I always have my shopping bag with me and I use it even when I'm getting take out food. It's my favorite traveling item!” shares Estelle Leotard, a writer at Studicus and zero waste traveler.  


Avoid using plastic utensils even on the airplane. If you pack your own you’ll always have an alternative.  You have two options when it comes to utensils. Either bring your own metal ones or buy biodegradable disposable utensils.  Make sure that you have everything – spoon, fork, and a knife. Or, to eliminate the weight instead of carrying both the spoon and fork, get a spork or the 3 in 1 combo. 

Food Containers

Do your best not to throw away any food. Even on the airplane. Whenever you have some food leftovers, pack it for later. This is why you need food containers  To avoid plastic by any means you can consider glass containers but those are impractical for traveling. The best choice is stainless steel containers. The problem with those is that they can be pretty heavy.  If you are a backpacker who is trying to keep the packing as lightweight as possible feel free to use reusable plastic containers. The important part is that you stay away from single-use plastic packaging.


Now, let's get to self-care and everything you need to for it. There are several items you can use to avoid all the plastic waste.

Here are our recommendations:

  • Bamboo toothbrush
  • Toothpaste tablets (opt for the ones in a glass container)
  • Bar soap
  • Bar shampoo
  • Natural and plastic-free deodorant
  • Recycled toilet paper

You can pretty much find anything that you need of toiletries that are natural and green. Just think of it in advance so that you can order it online if your local store doesn't have the items you need.


Go Digital

To minimize the paper waste as much as possible, digitalize your journey. Try to get everything you can on your mobile phone, tablet, or laptop.  Don't print out the airplane ticket, but use the digital version. Also, find out if the country you are traveling to has an app for public transportation. In that way, you won’t have to buy paper tickets.  The same goes for concert tickets, museum tickets, and so on.  Additionally, use an app for offline maps such as so you don’t have to purchase any maps along the way. 


Over to You

Whenever you think that zero waste travel is too demanding, just think about all that excess waste that is damaging our planet. The change starts with you.  This is your chance to enjoy your trips fully without feeling guilty about creating unnecessary waste. If you pack in the above-mentioned manner, you shouldn’t have any problems to endure in your zero waste travel endeavor. 


About the Author

Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks, and empowers using the magic of a word. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. Now she works as a freelance writer at WowGrade and  BestEssayEducation. Kristin also does some editing work at TrustMyPaper and GrabMyEssay.


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