By Philippe Edde
Ever go on vacation and find it difficult to keep up the habits you've mastered at home? Maybe you tend to only use reusable packaging at home, or you have an effective method of recycling and upcycling your packaging waste.
But when you're on the go all the time, it can be hard to keep your commitment to the planet.
Luckily for us, there are ways that we can minimize our waste production and carbon footprint while traveling. By adopting plastic-free travel practices, we can significantly reduce our contribution to the global plastic waste problem.
In this article, we explore sustainable strategies and practical tips for responsible travelers committed to minimizing plastic waste during their journeys.
1. Plan ahead and pack wisely
Before embarking on your trip, take the time to plan and pack thoughtfully. Opt for reusable alternatives instead of single-use plastics. For example, carry a reusable water bottle—trust me, this one makes a difference. Not only does it prevent waste but it is much cheaper and more convenient than constantly buying plastic bottles.
Planning where or what you will eat during the day can also help you prevent pollution. You can plan to eat at restaurants where single-use plastic cutlery and cups aren’t provided. Or if you're a bit more adventurous, traveling more off the grid, you can take finger foods or sandwiches that don't require plastic cutlery to eat. If you must eat something with cutlery, be sure to bring your own reusable or biodegradable cutlery.
Carrying a reusable bag for your shopping trips or souvenirs can also greatly reduce your plastic consumption.
Finally, those tiny shampoo bottles you see in hotels may be cute, but they definitely use up lots of plastic. You can avoid this waste by bringing your own eco-friendly alternatives or opting for bar soaps and shampoo bars.
2. Choose accommodations that prioritize sustainability
When selecting accommodations, prioritize establishments that have sustainable practices in place. A number of booking websites, like Booking.com and Expedia, recently implemented eco-friendly badges to help you identify accommodations that have put effort into being sustainable.
If that’s not your style, there are entire websites dedicated to helping you find sustainable lodging, including Ecohotels, Bookdifferent, and Select Green Hotels. Supporting these establishments sends a message that sustainability matters to travelers, encouraging more businesses to adopt plastic-free practices.
Even after checking into your new abode, be sure to ask for the recycling instructions, as recycling protocols can change drastically between countries and even cities!
3. Support local markets and sustainable food practices
Explore local markets and food vendors that prioritize sustainable practices. International chain restaurants are terrible polluters, and fast food restaurants are especially bad: most American fast food restaurants do not meet the Natural Resources Defense Council’s criteria for sustainable packaging.
Instead of going for the same old stuff, purchase fresh produce and snacks from local markets and ask for your food without plastic packaging (unless you absolutely need it). By shopping locally, you also stimulate the economy of the country you are visiting instead of giving more money to the corporate giants that pollute our lands and oceans.
4. Embrace eco-friendly transportation options
Transportation plays a significant role in the carbon footprint we generate while traveling. Opt for eco-friendly transportation options. Consider cycling, walking, or taking public transit whenever possible. Google Maps is a wonderful tool for planning your use of these methods of transportation, wherever you are.
If you need to rent a vehicle, choose a company that promotes sustainability and offers hybrid or electric cars. Alternatively, be sure to carpool with friends or other travellers in similar situations. BlaBlacar.com has a number of carpool routes in Europe that you can use to get to your destination in a greener way. By reducing your reliance on fossil fuel–powered transportation and supporting greener alternatives, you contribute to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, making your travel more sustainable overall.
5. Participate in beach and community cleanups
Lastly, if you want to be a super soldier in the fight to clean up the earth, you can participate in local cleanups or community-led initiatives during your travels. Many coastal destinations organize regular cleanups to tackle plastic pollution. Joining these efforts allows you to directly contribute to the reduction of plastic waste and create awareness within local communities. It's a meaningful way to connect with fellow travellers and locals who share your commitment to a cleaner environment.
The bottom line
By adopting plastic-free and low-carbon travel practices, we can safeguard the natural beauty of our planet and protect fragile ecosystems for future generations. Through conscious planning, responsible choices, and supporting sustainable businesses, we can significantly reduce our contribution to the plastic waste crisis.
Let's become ambassadors of change and inspire others to embrace sustainable practices while exploring the world.
This post was edited by Lumida Editing & Proofreading.
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This is where you can find more in-depth information on how to reduce waste in our local communities and live more sustainably.
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