Summer is in full swing and families are on the move! Sometimes travel and going green can be a tough mix. How will you find space to pack all your nifty green tools? Chicka chicka boom boom! Will there be enough room?
Whether you are going on a summer road trip, camping, flying across the world, or just heading out into your backyard for a picnic, your trunk or luggage is probably packed to the brim. It’s tempting to just leave your waste-free toolkit at home!
But wait! You can experience the joy of waste-free living on the road, too, if you pack a mini toolkit to tote with you wherever you are. A little planning ahead does the trick when it comes to keeping your carbon footprint green and lean at the same time.
Here are some of our favorite space-saving, waste-busting tips and tricks.
Zero Waste Travel Tip #1 - Collapsible Bottles
Duh! BYO water bottle. Doesn’t matter where you’re headed, you’re going to need to hydrate!
But packing a reusable glass or stainless steel water bottle can be a hassle. They usually take up a lot of space. How about packing instead a silicone Hydaway bottle that collapses down to just over an inch? It’s easy to pack a water bottle that will fit in a pocket, wallet, backpack, or just about anywhere. The bottles are made from food-grade silicone, and the center, base, and lid are hard plastic.
In another upside, reusable water bottles are a great way to bypass that pesky “no liquids over 3.4 oz” rule. Pack an empty bottle in your carry on or clip one to your backpack to fill at a water fountain.
Zero Waste Travel Tip #2 - Metal or Glass Straws
No matter where you travel, you may find yourself confronted with a fountain beverage or smoothie at some point. Rather than relying on harmful plastic straws, pack your own glass or metal straw instead. These little waste-busters are tiny and tuck easily into a purse or backpack, but they pack a powerful eco wallop when it comes to beating back needless waste.
Zero Waste Travel Tip #3 - BYO Nesting Containers
I get it. It’s so easy to grab a box of granola bars to keep the kids happy on that long road trip. But there’s just so much waste between the box and the wrapper (which is most likely not recyclable).
Instead, pack a set of nesting containers like the Seal Cup Fivesome in our plastic-free Blue Water Bento collection of leak-proof lunchboxes. All together, the 5-piece set holds 9 cups of food when filled, but each container nests inside the others like Russian dolls and the empty set will pack very compactly tucked inside the largest container!
For waste-free bonus points, make your own road trip snacks like these Grab & Go Protein Balls. Not only are they more eco-friendly, but they’re more nutritious than your average granola bar, too!
Zero Waste Travel Tip #4 - Tiny Totes
No matter how much you tell yourself “not this time”, invariably you’ll pick up a souvenir or two from a trip. Find yourself an uber-compact reusable shopping bag, like a Micro Bag by ChicoBag, that stuffs down into a little sack the size of an egg and will hold 450 times its own weight. Clip it to your keychain, purse, or belt loop so you don’t end up inadvertently taking home a suitcase full of plastic.
Zero Waste Travel Tip #5 - Reusable Utensils
On airplanes, when getting to-go meals, or even when getting a cup of ice cream, you’ll probably come face-to-face with it: plastic cutlery. Over the course of a one week vacation, it’s conceivable that you’ll use more than 20 plastic utensils - and probably only once each. Instead, grab our compact ECOtravel Utensil Set so you’ll always have a lightweight, reusable alternative on hand.
Zero Waste Travel Tip #6 - Cloth Napkins
If your family was anything like ours growing up, you’ll know that the glove box and door pockets are great spots to stash extra paper napkins accumulated at take-out joints. While they may come in handy for on-the-road emergencies, for the most part, they can be replaced by cloth napkins. Just wash (even in a hotel sink) and reuse!
Zero Waste Travel Tip #7 - Reef-Safe Sunscreen
Okay, so this one is less about zero waste, and more about eco-conservation, but I still thought it was important to mention here. When we go in the ocean (or lakes, or seas), our sunscreen inevitably washes off and becomes a part of the ocean environment.
The chemicals contained therein can be harmful to marine life, coral reefs, etc. Plan ahead when you’re choosing your SPF this summer, avoid big box commercial sunscreens, which tend to contain more toxins, and pack an eco-friendly mini stick or tube of reef-safe sunscreen by Badger or All Good.
There are so many “little” things each of us can do to make a big personal difference when it comes to reducing waste and protecting our planet. Over time, these drops in the bucket repeated actions add up to measurable positive impact for our planet. What’s your best zero-waste tip for summer travel? Please share with us on our Facebook or Instagram page!