EcoFriendly Advice From Wanderers Who Travel Plastic Free


Travel For Change is a wonderful community that aims to work together to collectively share helpful ways that you can travel sustainably and ethically.


Plastic. Why does it STILL matter? Plastic isn't going away anytime soon. Consumer demand for Eco-friendly alternatives is growing; but we have a way to go. Recently, an article published in National Geographic stated that plastic trash flowing into the sea may triple by 2040 if we don't make drastic changes fast!


Quick Facts:

  • Plastic pollution can be found on every beach in the world

  • Every day around 8 million pieces of plastic make their way into the ocean

  • 1 plastic bottle can last over 450 years

  • 40% off all plastic packaging is made for single-use

  • Half the plastic manufactured in the world is made in Asia

  • Less than 1/5 of all plastic is ever recycled

Check out three of my favourite wanderers who have all taught me something unique about Eco-friendly travel. Jessie, Amy and Fee have very different travel backgrounds and experiences, but what unifies them is their passion for the planet and their love for exploring the world.


Amy shares with us her thoughts on sustainable travel, such as using homemade natural deodorant and shopping products with as little negative impact on the mother nature. There is nothing better than organic; good for you and good for the planet.


1 - In your own words what does Eco-friendly travel mean to you?


Eco-travel for me is maintaining awareness and consciousness of my effect on the environment wherever I go and this includes single use plastic and chemical waste.


I also feel it includes making a positive impact on the locations I travel. I do this by volunteering my skills and knowledge or supporting the local economy by eating and buying locally.

2 - What Eco-friendly trends have you embraced or swapped on your travels?

I made the switch to natural soaps, shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant many years ago. I travel with my homemade deodorant and use Dr. Bronner’s soap for my body and hair. I made this chemical free change due to my readings on the negative effect things such as sodium lauryl sulphate has on our bodies and the environment. It turns out that we absorb it through our skin, which is worse than drinking it, as it can affect our waterways and soil. I like to think everywhere I go in the world I am not washing these chemicals in to the waterways or putting it into my own body.

3 - Do you prefer to use a reusable water bottle?


I would much prefer to use my own reusable bottle, but honestly during most of my travels I have bought bottled water due to not always being able to refill with filtered water. In some cases, this was the safest bet. On my next travels I plan on purchasing a filtered water bottle, so I will be able to fill up anywhere and know that I am drinking safe water. 4 - Do you have any plastic free travel essentials that you would recommend to other travellers?


I would recommend the water bottle with a filter in it and also bamboo toothbrushes are great because they are biodegradable. 5 - What plastic items do you find the hardest to swap for Eco friendly versions?


The hardest thing I have found is take away containers and throw away plates and cutlery because I have never travelled with my own containers. It is my goal for future travel. I also struggle to avoid plastic bags in many locations as they are still used in many ways everywhere you go.


AMY


Jessie has always been an incredible supporter of this community and is very encouraging when it comes to sustainable, honest, travel. Jessie shares with us some of her personal tips for reducing plastic by using what we already own, recycling and purchasing sustainable products as needed.


1 - In your own words what does Eco-friendly travel mean to you?

Eco-friendly travel means being as sustainable as possible while on the road. This means mindfully making choices that will be better for the environment. Whether it be asking for fewer plastic bags or simply packing a reusable straw; Eco-friendly travel is different for each person. You must do what works for you without any added stress. I am constantly learning as I visit new places what products work best for me and the location I am in. I am currently based in Canada but often take short trips to both domestic and international destinations.

2 - What Eco-friendly trends have you embraced or swapped on your travels?

I aim to embrace as many Eco-friendly travel trends as possible and I find they are simple and effective.

Menstrual Cup: I use the Diva Cup during my menstrual cycle. “The average woman uses roughly 11,000 tampons in her lifetime”. I am an advocate for menstrual cups and I encourage all women to try them out! They will save you money in the long run and they are good for the environment.

Reusable Straw: To say I bring it on every trip would be a lie, but I am trying to get more conscious about using it, especially when on the road.

Natural Toiletries: I love a good natural deodorant because it has less chemicals. I use simple homemade lotions which I refill into the same container to reduce plastic waste. I have reusable rubber travel tubes for all my toiletries. This was initially a hack to save money (as travel size are often just under half the price of a full bottle) but I now do it to be sustainable as well.

Buying Local: I try to buy local when I travel, whether it be fresh produce from the market or artisan crafts, I try to support people directly whenever I can.

3 - Do you prefer to use a reusable water bottle?

I would love to say I always use my reusable bottle, but when travelling in many third world countries you need to buy drinking water. The best way to alleviate this (depending on if you’re backpacking or in one spot) is by purchasing a big 4-6L jug and using that to refill your bottle.

4 - Do you have any plastic free travel essentials that you would recommend to other travellers?

I recently purchased some biodegradable toothbrushes and I keep one in my gym bag and one in my day bag. I always bring three reusable plastic zip bags for snacks, so I can still have my “on-the-go” lifestyle without having to buy as many one-time use plastic bags. Otherwise, I just use what I already have (plastic bottles, reusable plastic bags) and once those are no longer usable I plan to buy new eco-cups. I would also like to try sustainable plastic wrap which is made from beeswax and can be used for covering produce in the fridge.


5 - What plastic items do you find the hardest to swap for Eco friendly versions?

Straws and plastic cups when purchasing take-away drinks is something I do want to try and improve on reducing. I prefer to pack light when I travel and only take what I need as part of living a minimalist lifestyle. Taking only one backpack and packing enough reusable containers, toiletries and other items is harder when you don’t travel with much. This is something I look forward to embracing in the future to ensure I always have reusable bottles, cups and straws! If you have any tips on recommended brands, please share in the comments below!

JESSIE


1 - In your own words, what does Eco-friendly travel mean to you?


For me, it’s all about making smarter and more conscious choices to help lessen any negative impact I may create when I travel. Not only reducing my waste but most importantly supporting cruelty-free tourist attractions and taking care of the natural environment around me.


Each day, whether I travel or not, I want to make decisions that benefit animals, the environment and the well-being of local communities.

2 - What Eco-friendly travel trends have you embraced on your own travels?


- Where possible, I always make the effort to travel with carry-on luggage only; reducing the plane weight reduces carbon emissions.


- I prefer to take public transport or ride a bicycle, rather than a private taxi for the same reason. The smaller your luggage, the easier it is to do so.


- Wherever I choose to stay, I refuse to have my towel and bedding changed during my stay, I think it’s unnecessary and a waste of resources.


- When buying souvenirs, I make sure I never buy anything made from animal products. This includes things such as shark teeth, ivory, coral, tortoiseshell, skin or fur.


- I never buy a photo from anyone exploiting wildlife on the streets. Any animal, whether it’s a monkey, gibbon, bird, snake, elephant, tiger - does not deserve to be used as a tourist attraction. The suffering they have to endure to remain docile and calm for tourists to touch is inappropriate and cruel. The more money they make from tourists the more likely these practices will continue to occur. Therefore, I avoid taking part in tourist attractions where animals are on display or made to work against their will. I don’t want to play a part in allowing this industry to continue.


- I don’t take part in walking lions or riding elephants; by taking part you are supporting the illegal capture and abuse of many animals each and every year. Please do not ride elephants!


- Lastly, when I go snorkelling I make an effort not to touch or step on the coral, as it can damage the reef’s ecosystem. It’s already fragile and I would hate to be the cause of more damage. Simply swim and admire the ocean carefully.


3 - Do you prefer to use a reusable water bottle?


I take my reusable stainless steel water bottle with me everywhere. It’s ideal, as it stays cool in the summer heat and keeps warm during the cold weather. When I travel to countries where the water is questionable for my health, I have used water purification tablets in the past. However, some hotels, hostels and volunteer accommodation I have stayed at have supplied filtered water so you can fill up your own water bottle.


Alternatively, I would suggest buying a water filter bottle, to avoid buying one time use plastic water bottles, whether at home or when you travel. This is one of the best choices you can make – don’t leave home without one!


4 - Do you have any plastic-free travel essentials that you would recommend to other travellers?


Yes, many! You are going to think I’m crazy. But with the increased use of one-time plastic everywhere, I knew I had to change my habits.


- I have a few stainless steel straws that I take with me in my handbag everywhere I go. Whenever I order a drink, I always advise, no straw, please!


- I use organic floss in a glass jar.


- My moisturiser and cleansers, all come in glass jars too.


- My shampoo and conditioner are bars, so no plastic bottles used.


- My earbuds are made from organic cotton and recyclable cardboard stems.


- My toothbrush is made from bamboo. Unfortunately, the bristles are nylon, but its hard to find another option at the moment, but at least the handle is plastic-free.


- I take reusable shopping bags with me that can fold small to fit in my handbag to use at the supermarket or markets.


- I also have bamboo utensils that I take with me, so if there is no stainless steel option at the markets, I don’t have to use the plastic option.


Everyone has to play their part in reducing their one-time plastic usage. Start with one change and go from there. You’ll feel so much better for making the swap! Together we can make a difference.


5 - What plastic items do you find the hardest to swap for Eco-friendly versions?


When travelling, the takeaway food containers are either plastic or Styrofoam, which I find the hardest to avoid. I could bring my own reusable glass container with me, but If I’m travelling light, unfortunately, this is often the hardest to include in my backpack.


Reduce the plastic waste when you dine out by aiming to eat at the restaurant or use your fabric bag and bamboo cutlery as much as possible.


FEE


For more information on Eco-Friendly Travel, check out this Plastic-Free Travel article by Plant-Based Kate!



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