What are easy ways to save plastic while traveling? In the Netherlands I use almost no plastic. How can I ensure that I use as little plastic as possible while traveling? For my (world) trip of 10 months I looked into this and found 20 easy ways to save plastic while traveling. It’s not as hard as it seems. I hope this post inspires you to save some plastic while traveling.
Easy ways to replace plastic toiletries:
A great way to save plastic while traveling is to replace your plastic toiletries. Here’s how:
1. Replace plastic toothbrushes and toothpastes
The most sustainable alternative to the plastic toothbrush handle is bamboo. Bamboo toothbrushes are good for the mouths and environment because they are antibacterial and 100% compostable, even for backyard composting. Next to this, you can replace your toothpaste tube with tooth tablets. The naturally foaming tablet comes in a glass jar.
2. Wash your hair with a shampoo bar and conditioner bar
Invest in a shampoo and conditioner bar. One bar will last as long as two or three bottles of shampoo or conditioner. The bars are usually made of 100% environmental ingredients and can be stored in a tin box.
I love the lavendel bars of HappySoaps (recommended for Dutch readers).
3. Opt for a hairbrush made of bamboo
Did you know that you can buy a 100% plastic free hair brush? Brushes from bamboo and natural rubber are not only a more sustainable option for the environment in terms of them being plastic free, but they also are good for your hair. Bamboo pins will not damage your hair and will instead be much gentler on those tough knots and tangles.
4. Bring a refillable bottle for shampoo
Bring an empty refillable bottle, preferably not plastic, so you can fill it with shampoo or shower gel from hotels. This way you don’t have to buy new bottles every time.
5. Switch to a plastic-free beauty routine
You can challenge yourself to do your entire facial cleansing routine plastic-free. The best way to start is with reusable cotton pads and a travel size cleansing balm or facial soap with less to no plastic.
I use a face bar from Nivea. The bar is a solid face cleanser that is plastic-free, certified natural and contains 99% natural origin ingredients (recommended for Dutch readers).
6. Use a 100% natural deodorant
The plastic packaging of all standard deodorants are extremely harmful to the environment. But don’t worry, these days it’s very easy to buy 100% natural deodorants. Solid deodorants or dusting powders are the perfect replacement to travel plastic-free. The solid deodorant is like a soap block made from natural ingredients that you simply rub under your arms and lasts much longer than the aerosol deodorant.
I use the lavendel deodorant of HappyEarth. This one is 100% natural and 100% plastic free (recommended for Dutch readers).
7. Skip disposable plastic razors
Skip disposable plastic razors and purchase a good razor that you can use for multiple months or years.
8. Use a menstrual cup
Menstrual products are the environment’s worst plastic nightmare. Switching to using a menstrual cup means changing less often, saving money and taking the environment into account. A menstrual cup is made from comfortable silicone (which doesn’t release harmful toxins like plastic) and is reusable for up to 10 years. You can leave it in for around 12 hours. I can really recommend buying one!
9. Don’t use cotton swabs
Cotton swabs may look harmless, but they are very bad for the environment. The swabs are often made up almost entirely of plastic. Use bamboo swabs instead!
10. Replace your sunscreen
Regular sunscreens contain two harmful chemicals: oxybenzone and octinoxate. Believe it or not, but our sunscreen is killing ocean corals. In some countries it’s even prohibited to swim with regular sunscreen. Therefore, it’s better to buy reef-safe sunscreen alternatives. A good option is Suntribe Sunscreen.
Reduce plastic use in hotels, restaurants and supermarkets:
11. Say ‘no’ to hotel mini toiletries
There are millions of soap bars and half-used shampoo bottles which are discarded in the millions of hotel shower trays across the world. Bring your own soap block, shampoo bar, conditioner bar, and tooth tabs, so there are zero reasons to use hotel (mini) toiletries.
12. Skip plastic bags and unnecessary packaging
Supermarkets are a huge contributor to wasting plastic. Think about the plastic bags that are often demanded to use when weighing your fruit or the unnecessary plastic packaging around fruits and vegetables. In Asia, your groceries are even packed in plastic bags. You can save plastic by bringing your own reusable bags. I always carry a small foldable bag or my day backpack with me when grocery shopping.
13. De-stigmatize Doggie Bags (aka To-Go Bags)
The ideal reusable doggie bag (or to-go bag) might not be a bag at all. But a washable, (plastic) collapsible container that could be packed flat. I carry a collapsible container from Sea to Summit.
14. Say ‘no’ to plastic straws and utensils
Other ways to save plastic while traveling:
15. Bring a reusable bottle
One of the easiest and possibly best ways to save plastic while traveling is by bringing a reusable water bottle. They don’t have to be expensive, look much nicer, and are also healthier for us.
Instead of buying plastic water bottles in the supermarket, I bought a LifeStraw water purifying bottle. An original LifeStraw water filter has an unlimited shelf life! Once used, the filter lasts up to 1,000 gallons (4,000 liters) – enough to last an individual for over 5 years.
16. Bring your own thermos cup for your coffee order
If you love coffee or tea, you can help the environment by bringing your own foldable reusable cup or mug. This way you will avoid using hundreds or even thousands of single-use cups, depending on the frequency of your hot beverage habit. Furthermore, a stainless steel coffee mug helps to maintain the temperature of your beverage, so you can also enjoy your hot drink for longer. That’s a win win!
17. Do not use local SIM cards but buy an e-sim
Most phones accept e-sims these days and that’s great! An eSIM allowed me to keep my Dutch physical sim at home and to use local numbers for roaming. This way I can keep my Dutch WhatsApp number and can call and message all my contacts on WhatsApp, like if I’m in the Netherlands. The fact that I don’t need to buy a local sim which is made of plastic, also makes eSIM an eco-friendly replacement.
18. Use a washable face mask instead of a disposable face mask
Reusable face masks are better for the environment, don’t litter streets, and won’t end up in the sea. I have a washable face mask with me and use it everyday in Asia. For me, it’s more comfortable and will save me money in the long run.
19. Choose a cone for your ice cream
When the sun is shining we all like to go out for ice cream sometime. When you buy an ice cream, make sure you always choose a cone instead of a plastic cup and plastic spoon. Tasty and better for the environment.
20. Eat less fish
Fishing nets are responsible for by far the most plastic waste in the seas. To contribute as a consumer to reducing the use of fishing nets is simple. Eat less or no fish!
Making steps in saving plastic while traveling
I hope the above ways have inspired you to save plastic while traveling. By making some small and easy changes to your travel habits, you can make a massive change to our planet. Let me know in the comments which other products you’re using to travel plastic-free.
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