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How to be a More Eco-Friendly Traveller

We all know we should make sustainable choices. It’s really not that hard at home. From storing food in glass containers to being diligent about recycling and composting, making green choices is easy if you’ve built a routine around it. When it comes to traveling, all bets are off. Suddenly, we’re taking that single-use plastic bag. We’re dropping $8 at the airport on a bottle of water. We’re sipping our iced coffee with a plastic straw. In travel, convenience often overrides everything. However, with a little planning, you can easily green up your travel life. Here’s how.

Culprit: Food Packaging

From coffee cups to takeout containers, few categories can top food and beverage when it comes to single-use plastics. Here’s a few simple ways to make greener choices.

  • Travel with a water bottle. It’s cuter, it’s cheaper, and definitely greener.

eco-friendly travel tips

  • Bring your own reusable coffee cup. Maybe it’s an insulated tumbler, or an actual coffee or teacup (yes, I really do travel with my own teacup!). Whatever the case, it’s not only less wasteful, but keeps your drink warmer and/or makes your experience more elegant.

eco-friendly travel tips

  • Reusable straws. Yes, paper straws are better than plastic, but who likes drinking out of a soggy, paper straw? Not me, especially when I know you can get stainless steel or fun, colorful silicone ones!
  • Beeswax wrap. Too-da-loo, plastic cling wrap! This reusable item is perfect for saving food for later.
  • Lunch boxes aren’t just for kids. Pack your own lunch for the plane in a stainless steel bento box (ugh, just think of all the plastic used in serving airplane meals!). Bring it to restaurants to use in lieu of a doggie bag. Will it feel weird to ask your server to use this instead of a clamshell? Maybe, but with everyone’s dietary restrictions these days, your request isn’t anywhere near the strangest thing they’ve heard.
  • Nylon shopping bags. I love the ones from Baggu—they fold up to next to nothing, and they’re so cute, I can barely stand it.

eco-friendly travel tips


Culprit: Travel-sized toiletries

Tiny toiletries seem unavoidable, especially since enforcing the 3oz liquids rule. That said, they’re often a huge waste of plastic.

  • Just pack your full-sized items. Years ago, I decided I was over decanting my products into tiny little containers—especially if I was checking my bag anyhow.
  • Decant your full-sized items. If you really don’t want to make room for larger items, invest in travel-sized, leak-proof containers.
  • Rethink your toothpaste. You really can’t put toothpaste back in the tube, and the travel-sized option’s ratio of toothpaste to plastic is abysmal. If you’re not keen on bringing your full-sized paste, would you consider these zero-waste toothpaste tablets? Simply chew them up, then brush like normal. Since they aren’t liquid, you can pack ‘em in your carry-on.
  • Biodegradable toothbrushes. Not only are they eco-friendly, but stylish to boot!

eco-friendly travel tips

  • Up your makeup remover game. Single-use wipes and cotton rounds make Mother Earth cry off her mascara. Try these reusable bamboo makeup remover pads, which can be washed with your laundry. Good for travel or at home.
  • Peace out, plastic deodorant container. Not only is Meow Meow Tweet’s adorable deodorant a healthier choice (no aluminum, and vegan), but it comes in a biodegradable package.

eco-friendly travel tips

  • Get yourself a shampoo bar. I can barely think of those tiny hotel shampoos and conditioners without cringing at all the plastic (luckily, this is changing!). That’s why I love Lush Cosmetics’ shampoo and conditioner bars. They’re like bars of soap, but for your hair (and are good for 80 washes!). Buy a reusable tin to house it in, and voila! Clean hair and conscience. Bonus: since they’re solid, they don’t count against your carry-on liquids!

How do you make environmentally responsible decisions on the road? Share in the comments!

We all know we should make sustainable choices. In travel, convenience often overrides everything. However, with a little planning, you can easily green up your travel life. Here’s how.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Dear Samantha,
    Love you & love your show.
    I feel like I’ve known you for some time and, we are very good friends. You have this personality that’s charming, inviting and a little bit sexy! If you ever do a show in Pittsburgh, PA., I’m a student of our history here and would love to show you the town. It’s a great city that contributed so much to our country.
    To your health, wealth & happiness! Bob Stanton & Family.

  2. Love, love, love this article! The one thing I do everywhere is military wash my hands: use 1 hand to turn on water for 1 second to dampen other hand, turn off water, soap and lather hands with NO water running, then rinse off hands with a slow to medium stream of H2O.

  3. Thanks for your great tips to eliminate single-use plastics while travelling ! I’ve noticed more and more airports have water fountains to fill tall water containers, located in areas after going through TSA security check. You can also get it filled at most airline lounges where the bartender hangs out. Just need to remember to bring along your empty container.

  4. This year I wanted to reduce waste by 25% actually did closer to 50% Found reusable womens pads. They are so much more comfortable, have pretty patterns and work well I only need a few as washable so saves room in suitcase. I”m a Sr. and use them for” just in case “I sneeze or laugh. I also take my own reusable containers, and cleaning cloths in my faverite pattern, flamingos, I sew the “reusable paper towels” easy to do in a size you want , works for make up, napkins, glass cleaner, whatever, easy to hand wash and dry also.

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