This time of year many of us are either booking, or venturing off on our summer holidays- and why not? We all work extremely hard and we deserve a break in the sunshine, with nothing more to do than to sight-see, soak up a different culture and explore new things. The great thing is that many of us are also starting to view our summer adventures with a more eco-conscious mindset too. We know that air travel is one of the biggest causes of carbon emissions and that reducing the amount of flying we do can positively impact this.
We also know that there are other, smaller things we can do to make changes for the better too. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t fly. We are saying that you should instead approach your holiday this year with a little more mindfulness- and with greener intentions. Here are three little tips for zero waste travel this summer.
The things that you take away with you on holiday matter. Don’t fill your case with disposable, single use items just because you’re on holiday and you don’t want to carry too much back with you when you return to the UK. Instead, pack smart.
First things first, make a list. Be brutally honest about the things that you need and the things that you don’t need. Make headings on that list:
- First Aid
- Food and drink
Once you have your headings, the rest will follow. Grab a decent first aid kit that will fit neatly into your travel bag, and keep it on hand throughout your travels. This is a great article from Growing a Green Family on how to make your own eco-friendly first aid kit– check it out. Be sparing with your toiletries and sunscreen and take only what you need with you.
Our mini soap bars make a great space-saving alternative to plastic bottles of shower gel and if you have any smaller bottles or reusable pouches at home you can fill them with enough shampoo and conditioner to last you while you’re away. Alternatively, pack shampoo and conditioner bars and use them instead. Be realistic and don’t cram your toiletry bag full ‘just in case’. Take enough clothes for one or two changes (depending on how long you’re away and the type of holiday you’re taking) and if you do find yourself needing to freshen up your clothes, why not take along some Lifeventure Fabric Wash Leaves? One leaf mixed with water creates a fabric wash on the go- great for travelling.
When it comes to food and drink, don’t take anything that will perish quickly or easily- fresh fruit is not a great idea unless you intend to eat it straight away. Don’t take anything that is going to potentially go to waste, and always take empty water bottles that you can fill once you’re through security at the airport. Water bottles that fold down small are a great idea for travelling too.
There are many ways that you can travel light- both physically and mentally. If you’ve packed smart, you may only need one bag and if you don’t need to actually check anything in you’ll not only save time at the airport but you’ll save on the paper that’s required to check you in too. Don’t print out your travel documents unless it’s absolutely necessary and if there are apps for buses, trains and airlines etc, then use them! E-tickets can be used via your phone and will help to save on waste. If you’re asked whether or not you want a receipt, always say no. Unnecessary pieces of paper are simply that- unnecessary!
Instead of books, take a kindle or download an e-reader onto your phone. If flying, don’t use the airline’s single use headphones, take your own instead. Take your own snacks to avoid using the airline’s plastic pots and packets. Say NO to single use straws, cups and plates.
Taking less luggage with you is not only a lighter strain on you physically as you make your way towards summer adventures, but it also means you can lighten the load on your mind too. There’s less to remember, less time hanging around at the baggage carousel and less temptation to fill your bags with unnecessary souvenirs too. Less ‘stuff’ means more space in your mind to explore, dream and enjoy your zero waste travel this summer.
Part of zero waste travel is not only getting there in one piece and with as much green effort as you can manage, but your actions once you arrive are important too. If you can, research local recycling facilities and endeavour to use them wherever possible. Use local transport- walk as much as you can- this is always a way better method of exploration! Strive to avoid single use plastic wherever you go and take your own bamboo cups, straws and pots for food. It’s also a great idea to take a section of reusable canvas shopping bags with you so that you can refuse plastic bags whilst out and about. Refuse and reuse is a great rule of thumb for us all.
In hotels, request no laundry until you leave to save on laundry and water waste. Turn off the taps, conserve energy used through fans, air conditioning or heating. Resist the temptation of souvenirs- instead, take photos and treasure these memories. Experiences make holidays, so let your hair down and enjoy your adventures with an eco-conscious mindset. That plastic statue of the local monument won’t mean nearly as much to you when you return- but those memories, those photos, those recollections of the sun on your face and the breeze in your hair will last a lifetime.