How to Make a Zero Waste Travel Possible?

Zero Waste

Traveling is a rewarding experience for most people, but it also generates lots of waste and pollution. In some places, tourists produce two times more waste than local residents, according to Sustainable Travel International.
Although disposable items can be useful for travelers to avoid carrying things around, they will affect natural ecosystems and local people! The good news is that reducing this waste is possible with a zero waste travel philosophy!

If you want to have a zero waste travel, keep reading to know how to make it possible and the best items you should pack to reduce trash while traveling!

Is It Possible to maintain Zero Waste while Traveling?

Packing for Zero Waste Traveling
You might know that tourism is responsible for 8% of global carbon emissions, which contribute to climate change. However, traveling isn’t entirely a bad thing. Some communities rely on tourism for a living and it’s also a great opportunity to know other cultures and natural places.

So, you can be sustainable while traveling by improving what you can control and making better decisions. For example:

  • Take trains or other low-carbon options instead of flying.
  • If you can’t avoid flying, then consider carbon offsets.
  • Take public transport or walk whenever possible.
  • Support local and eco-friendly establishments.
  • Set a zero waste travel goal.

How to Travel with Zero Waste in Mind

Traveling zero waste is easier than one would expect
If you already started a zero waste living, there’s no reason to change your habits while traveling. Although having a completely zero waste travel is almost impossible, the goal is to reduce your trash as much as you can!
Reducing your garbage during your trip might be a little harder than doing it in your daily routine but the secret is to prepare in advance! For that reason, you should keep in mind the following tips when planning your zero waste travel:

Zero Waste Travel #1: Learn more about the place you’ll visit

Depending on where you decide to go, you will have different options to plan your zero waste travel. Some places have plastic bans or good recycling policies, while others don’t even try it. Additionally, you could look for sustainable restaurants, local options to buy food, eco-friendly adventures and so on!
But more importantly, you should find out if potable water and refill stations are available before traveling. If they aren’t, consider buying larger quantities of water instead of single sizes.

Stay at eco-conscious accommodations

Usually, hotels are the opposite of eco-friendly. They generate lots of trash from single-use items, they waste tons of water and use too much energy. Because of this, the best option would be staying at places with sustainable practices or where you could recycle, compost, save water, cook your meals and more.
But if the only options available are hotels, remember to use water and energy consciously and order room service only when you need it. Otherwise, your linens will be laundered every day and you will get more disposable items!

Zero Waste Travel Must: Pack reusable items

Most travel waste comes from single-use products, like plastic water bottles, toiletries and more. You can avoid all these items by refusing to accept them and packing a few reusable alternatives with you.
Reusable items will be your best friends to avoid waste and fortunately, most of them won’t take up too much space in your baggage! Below you will find a list of essential items you should pack for your zero waste travel!

Prepare your own snacks

Even though packaged snacks are convenient while traveling, food packaging is the second most common trash found on beach cleanups. A better alternative for your zero waste travel would be preparing or packing your favorite snacks in reusable containers. This is particularly useful to avoid trash during your outdoor activities!

Visit sustainable and local restaurants

Another great option to avoid take-out containers and single-use cutlery is to visit restaurants. Better yet, local and eco-friendly ones. With this, you will support the local community while eating seasonal and locally sourced ingredients!
On the other hand, you could use reusable containers to save your leftovers for later and reduce food waste. That said, remember to refrigerate them properly or they will end up as waste anyway!

Go paperless

Why would you print something and waste paper if you could have it on your phone? Before printing your airline confirmation, reservations, tickets or any other, find out if you can have them on your phone instead. You can do the same with maps, checklists, itineraries and more!
In addition, don’t accept brochures, maps, or receipts if you’re going to throw them away a few minutes or hours later!

Pack a Zero Waste Travel Kit

Have your zero waste kit ready!
Most tourists prefer disposable items because they’re convenient: they can be found everywhere and can be easily thrown away after one use. As a result, single-use plastics are the most common waste of tourism!
So, it’s important to focus on replacing these products with reusable and eco-friendly options. Below you will find some useful alternatives!

Zero Waste Travel Essential #1 – Toiletries kit

If you want to avoid single-use toiletries, you should pack some of the following options for your zero waste travel:

  • Solid shampoo and conditioner bars. Another option would be using reusable travel bottles and fill them with your personal care and hygiene products instead of buying travel sizes for each one!
  • Reusable makeup remover wipes.
  • Bamboo toothbrush.
  • Metal safety razor.
  • Hairbrush.

Zero Waste Travel Essential #2 – Utensils kit

Even though takeout tends to create too much waste, there are some options you can pack to enjoy your food without creating waste:

  • Metal or bamboo reusable cutlery. If you prefer metal cutlery, remember you can’t pack it in your carry-on bag!
  • Reusable water bottle.
  • Reusable coffee cup.
  • Reusable straws.
  • Food containers.
  • Reusable bags.

Get Ready for Zero Waste Traveling

Now that you know all this information, you can reduce a lot of unnecessary trash to be one step closer to achieving your zero waste travel goal!
Remember to pack and buy what you need, reuse and repair as much as you can, avoid single-use products and recycle when possible!

“Sustainable Travel International.” 27 Oct. 2020. Web. 02 Nov. 2020.
“Are Carbon Offsets the Answer to Climate-altering Flights?” David Suzuki Foundation. 21 Sept. 2020. Web. 02 Nov. 2020.
Parker, Laura. “Plastic Food Packaging Was Most Common Beach Trash in 2018.” Plastic Food Packaging Was Top Trash in Global Beach Cleanup. 03 Sept. 2019. Web. 02 Nov. 2020.
Author: Monica Chang
On my own ethical journey since 2010. Always happy to learn more!