Green travel: reducing waste and our carbon footprint, is something that we are passionate about. Living a minimalist life and backpacking really do compliment one another – in addition to carrying less and realising what little we really do need to live on, those who see more of this earth also sadly see more of the destruction that living a blind life can have on the planet; such as landfills, pollution and litter in our oceans.
We may not be able to change the world, but there are certainly things we can do to reduce our own waste and carbon footprint, both when we travel and at home. Green travel is more about the little things than overhauling our entire lives. These 10 little changes will make a significant difference to the earth and are so simple you can make them TODAY.
1 – Carry A Re-Usable Water Bottle
Travelling means relying on bottled water a lot of the time when tap water isn’t safe to drink. This doesn’t have to mean throwing away lots of bottles however. Carrying a reusable bottle means you can fill it up when you can – at hostels, restaurants, etc. and always have clean water with you. I LOVE these flexible ones by Vapur which you can store so easily when not in use.
2 – Use a Menstrual Cup
Tampons can be very expensive and hard to come by when travelling. They take a lot of space in backpacks, and of course mean a lot of wastage – especially plastic applicators. Reusable cups such as Mooncups and Diva Cups are great in many ways; they have been proven to reduce pain and discomfort, are easier to deal with than tampons, and mean less waste and stress all round. Not sure if it is for you? Read this bloggers pros and cons and how it changed this blogger life.
3 – Use Soap Instead Of Shower Gel
This is a really obvious one for backpackers, but you can also incorporate this into your everyday life too. Not only are there so many amazing handmade soaps out there which are better for your skin with no nasty chemicals, but in using soap you aren’t throwing away a big plastic bottle every month. Think about it – if you use just one bottle a month that is 12 bottles a year. Imagine how big the landfill hole would be if it JUST held a years supply of every persons empty shower gel bottles.
4 – Use Multitasking Products
Another simple way of reducing the amount of products you carry with you when you travel and reduce the amount of plastic bottles you throw away is to find good multi-tasking products. My favourite example here is Coconut Oil – the green travellers favourite! I use it as a cleanser, moisturiser, hair conditioner, and even a coffee creamer! (just to name a few of its many uses). Read about my favourite travel coconut oil tubes here.
5 – Carry Re-Usable Bags
This should be a given, but it is surprising, especially in the US, how many people still rely on plastic bags in supermarkets. Carrying a canvas or mesh bag is very convenient for travelling – you never know when you will need one, and has a hugely positive effect on the environment. These Bagito ones are made from recycled materials and come in a pouch that you can clip on to your backpack.
6 – Switch From Daily To Monthly Contact Lenses
Are you a contact lens wearer? Not only do daily lenses take up a lot of space in your backpack, but they also mean a lot of wastage everyday. Not very green. There are so many great monthly options available now, there really is no need to wear daily lenses. Make the change from daily to monthly lenses and you will save money, space, and plastic.
7 – Carry Your Own ‘To-Go’ Box
Once I discovered re-usable zip-lock bags I stocked up for my home and for my travels (they are such a handy thing to carry when travelling!) to store food. A re-usable to-go box is also a great item to own. In the UK the food culture is very different that in the US, meaning taking your food to-go from restaurants isn’t as widely done. I really like that it reduces food waste, but hate that a polystyrene container is thrown away every time. Buy one of these instead.
8 – Spend More To Spend Less
The cornerstone for green travel is carrying better quality items. Cheap plastic flip-flops, dollar store sunglasses, cheap clothing… yes it is great for saving money, but how long does it last? The answer: not very long. Invest in the things you own, research and take time on your purchases and these things will last you for a long time. This doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune, but just because things can be bought cheaply doesn’t mean everything is disposable. Consider where you buy your travel gear from as well; companies such as Toms and Warby Parker are built on making a positive change to the world.
9 – Give Solid Shampoo A Try
Reduce the amount of plastic you throw away, similarly to using bars of soap, and care for your hair organically. I love the brand Lush and their gorgeous (and deliciously scented!) natural products. Their solid shampoo comes in a great tin and lasts for way longer that a bottle of shampoo. But don’t just take my word for it, travel blogger Alex In Wanderland has written a detailed review about her experience with solid shampoo and conditioner which you can read here.
10 – Carry A Mini Solar Panel
Goal Zero are an innovative company that make portable power for travellers that run off renewable energy. We love their Flip 10 Rechargers that hold a single charge for phones or other devices, and their lightweight solar panels, for charging on the go.
Do you have any tips for green travel and what to pack that helps you travel more mindfully? Share them below in the comments!
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