10 Zero-Waste Items to Bring on Your Eco-Travel Trip

By Carly Bergman

I have always lived an environmentally conscious lifestyle… or so I thought. When I went on my GIVE trip two years ago, my perspective on my current lifestyle changed. In Nicaragua, I was immersed in a community without a proper waste disposal system and beaches that were suffering from rising sea levels. It made me extremely upset to think about how people, (including myself at the time) do not recognize the detrimental impact waste has on the environment and the earth’s people… even if it isn’t directly impacting the areas in which we live at that moment.

Since my trip, I became incredibly more conscious about my waste. Now I pack my zero waste travel essentials so I don’t leave behind a negative impact when I travel! I wrote out 10 of my zero waste travel hacks so you can also travel mindfully!

Bring Your Own Reusable Bag!

#1 Bring your own reusable bag! Instead of being handed a one-time-use plastic or paper bag, just got the whole nine yards by bringing your own! I use this bag as my designated “sustainability bag” to carry all of the these listed items wherever I travel to. This is the first step to becoming the ultimate zero-waste traveler!  Click here to check out my shop where I make these bags with plant-dyes!

Ditch the single use utensils!

#2 Don’t forget the reusable straw! Always keep a couple reusable straws in your bag while traveling. And get in the habit of saying “no straw please!” when you order a drink. I always keep about 4, just incase I hangout with someone who forgets theirs! This is such an easy way to minimize your waste in a country with limited waste-management.

#3 Bring your own utensils and ditch single-use plastic utensils. If you travel a lot, you most likely notice all of the plastic utensils everywhere you turn. From the airports to the cafes, you never know where there will be reusable options! We use bamboo because it is extremely environmentally friendly (unlike plastic!!!!). Click here to check out bamboo utensils that I dye with plants.

Bulk Bags!

#4 Bulk bags, Bulk Bags, Bulk Bags! This is what an average day of zero-waste, high vibrational grocery shopping looks like at our house. Whole organic foods only baby! Great news- bulk bags take up little-to-no space in your backpack/luggage. Bulk bags are also the best way to organize your packing items! Multi-use, low-impact.

Ditch Traditional Shampoo & Conditioner!

#5 Ditch traditional shampoo and conditioners that come in plastic bottles! They not only take up luggage space, but they are usually not disposed of properly. Check out these sustainable bars! Choose companies made from hemp, palm-oil free, and packed + shipped with compostable materials. Click here to check out my favorite brands. As a mindful traveler, it’s important to be aware that whatever you put down the drain can contaminate the local water source. Eco-friendly soaps are the best way to avoid your negative impact.

Let’s end disposable razor usage!

#6 Let’s end plastic disposable razors! Switch out your plastic razor for a stainless steel razor! Over 2 billion plastic razors are thrown out in the U.S. alone. That is enough to wrap around Mother Earth SIX TIMES. How much money do you pay for razors a month? Around $5-10, right? Well this razor is only $20 and will last your entire life! The average person will save $3,000 just by making this simple switch. Click here to check out the razor I use.

 

Travel tip: Keep the blades in your luggage, not in your carry-on!

Reusable Bowls and Stasher Bags!

 #7 Say it with me… BYE BYE PLASTIC BAGGIES! When you are walking out and about while traveling, you need snack energy! Pack anything in this reusable baggie from sandwiches to cut up fruit. I’m particularly fond of the brand, “Stasher Bags” which are made from reusable silicone!

#8 Bring your own reusable bowls abroad! Avoid take-out plastic or paper plates by being prepared with your own! My coconut bowl is a go-to in my sustainability bag. Don’t be shy to ask the people preparing your food to place it in your own bowl! Most of the time they say yes without hesitation. Your reusable bowl, reusable straws, and utensils will make the perfect trio!

Bamboo Toothbrushes!

#9 Pack that bamboo toothbrush! Bamboo toothbrushes are way more eco-friendly than plastic toothbrushes! Did you know that every plastic toothbrush ever created is still here? Plastic toothbrushes fill the oceans and landfills. One billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away every year in JUST the United States ALONE. Click here to check out great, ethical brands!

 

Tip- to dispose properly, cut off the bristles and throw in the trash. Compost the bamboo or use it as a gardening stick to label your plants!

Reusable Coffee Mugs!

#10 Pack a reusable mug! Whenever you are out at a restaurant or café, ALWAYS ask for a reusable cup if you don’t bring your own mug! Most paper cups are lined with wax or plastic to prevent the paper from dissolving. For this reason, most paper cups can’t be composted or recycled. ALSO – plastic coffee cup lids are made with plastic #6 (polystyrene) and is on the US List of Carcinogens. Avoid drinking from melted plastic and wax in your cup of joe, and instead be prepared with your reusable mug. You’re reusable mug can also double as a water bottle!

Some Final Thoughts…

All of these items are minimal and small enough to fit in a bag for zero waste travel. I pack everything above in my “sustainability bag” referenced in Tip #1 and carry it wherever I go! Living in a consumerism world and traveling in remote areas is challenging to be zero-waste. The goal is to be a mindful consumer, just do your absolute best and focus on:

 

Preparation

Refusing

Reducing

Reusing

Recycling

 

And any trash you do end up having, always remember to do your best to bring those items back home with you. This way you can dispose of it properly if you are in a country that does not have a proper waste management system. Hope these tips help you make steps to being more of a mindful tourist… happy sustainable travels!

Join us in becoming more mindful in our waste! Here’e the Jist on Futuristic February!

WHAT TO DO?:

Collect your recyclable & non-perishable waste for the ENTIRE month of February. Don’t hold back. Act and shop like you usually would so you are honest with the amount of waste you collect! On February 28th, post a photo on social media with all of your accumulated waste tagging @Sustainable_Duo & the hashtag #FuturisticFebruary.

WHAT’S THE POINT OF COLLECTING TRASH?:

The point is to get a visual of how much waste you accumulate in one given month. Multiply it by 12 in your head and visualize how much waste you accumulate in a year! That picture will make you want to decrease your waste consumption ASAP!

NOW WHAT?:

Start to make simple, sustainable swaps in your life to decrease your carbon footprint. We will be posting zero-waste tips throughout the month on our Instagram pages:
•@Sustainable_Duo
•@Carly_Bergman
•@The_Sustainable_Ceo

You can also check out our Zero-Waste E-book that provides a zero-waste hack for basically everything. Here’s to making a positive impact together!