If you are a frequent traveller perhaps you have a travel kit ready all the time so you just need to grab it on your way to wherever your adventures take you. Even if that is already the case, maybe our tips will help you to make some adjustments.
We want to be as friendly as possible to our planet and realising how much waste, especially plastic waste, can be left after a one night stay at a hotel we kind of feel responsible to do something about it. I assure you that it is possible, easy and affordable to create you own zero waste (or at least near to zero waste) travel kit.
Creating, and remembering to take, your sustainable and eco-friendly travel kit with you is somethineg everyone can do to reduce our footprint, show an example and make a social impact. To be environmentally aware yourself is great, but some people need our help to make their own changes.
Some basic principles before we start making our kit
- Don’t use toiletries at your hotel (everything packed in small plastic bottles or packages)
- Don’t use disposable plastic cups if they are at your hotel
- Don’t buy small plastic packaged items
- Make packing plastic free
- Take just what you need
- Try to use solid items
- Use organic, recycled, biodegradable items
- Try to leave zero waste after yourself
There are so many travel kits to buy in shops, sadly most of them are just perfect at producing waste and full of plastic packaging, so it is better to avoid them and find your favourite packing solutions like stainless steel boxes, cotton bags, even wax wraps. Maybe you don’t need to buy anything new, just use what you have at home.
As we already wrote in one of our previous articles – solid cosmetic products are economical, comfortable for travel (no leaks!). They also come with some other ideological benefits like being natural, ecological, environment friendly and they just feel great on our bodies. Here is some solid list.
- Shampoo. Of course you can just be all natural and enjoy shampoo free days on your travel, but not too many. I would recommend instead to go with solid shampoo solutions. We use it all the time not just during our travels. We already tried a couple of different ‘eco-friendly’ organic shampoo bars, usually we buy the ones made in the area we live or find during our travel. Some brands make great eco-friendly shampoo bars, but then put it in masses of packaging, some only sell bars packed in tins you could easily reuse for ages so it doesn’t make sense to buy every time with a new tin. So for now our favourite is Lush because you can buy it without any packaging at all (we tried Jolu, Solidu, K-Organic never go for the cheapest version because it won’t be natural and won’t last long, a great option is Aspen Kay as well).
- Conditioner. Usually I like to use oils after washing my hair, but i prefer not to take the heavy glass oil bottle with me during the travels. The solution for this is great organic solid conditioner bar. Like the shampoo I pack it in a small tin. Actually we don’t use and don’t have liquid conditioner at home either.
- Soap. Shower gel is not to be found at our house so why would we use it for traveling. Just simple great old fashioned soap bars. It is so easy to buy great quality ecological, organic soaps without any packaging nowadays. You can use a tin or a wax wrap for travelling.
- Deodorant. I don’t think it makes sense to buy one specially for the travels so I would just recommend generally to choose something as natural and good quality as possible. It might be solid or come as a powder, just try to choose one that doesn’t come in plastic. For example we have a solid one in a small glass jar and later we can reuse the empty jar.
- Perfume. Depending on which kind of travel you choose you might want to have a bit of extra. If I buy perfume in a glass bottle usually I buy the bigger one so I can save some money, but is it not so convenient and friendly for the budget travel. The solution is, you guessed it, solid perfume. It takes less space and you won’t break it.
- Dental care. Coconut oil is great for natural dental care, but when it gets warm it can easily melt, so maybe it would be a good idea for travel to try solid toothpaste in powder or tablets. For example at Lush you can get toothpaste tablets without packaging if you take a tin or bottle with you. If you prefer a more regular kind of toothpaste, maybe you can make it yourself or again buy from Lush with your own packaging (Georganics can be an option and it has a glass jar). The silk dental floss which comes without plastic packaging is great for example Georganics comes in glass jar and you can buy refills separately . There are many choices when it comes to toothbrushes, made from recycled materials, bamboo or 100% biodegradable.
- Sponge. The Luffa plant is my new discovery. People have been using it for thousands of years, but I never had a sponge before made of this great plant. If you happen to be in the areas they grow just buy a piece of dried plant and make yourself a body sponge, face sponge, or use it for putting the soap or shampoo bar. Actually they are also good for dish washing or just cleaning.
Useful sustainable travel essentials
- Menstrual cup. ‘Lady days’ might happen during your travel. If you are a lady and you get your period during the dinner at our place we can’t help you. For many years I haven’t used any tampons, instead I have a silicon menstruation cup and I am happy with it. It doesn’t take space, it is comfortable for travels, it doesn’t produce waste and saves money. I use OrganiCup and would recommend it for sure with a nice cotton bag.
- Cotton pads. If you use cosmetics a lot then cotton pads that can be easily washed and reused are a great solution. Actually if you are going for a short trip I would recommend cotton napkins or small towels as well instead of using paper towels. I wouldn’t be happy to carry the dirty ones for a week, but for a day or two days trip they could be useful.
- Reusable water bottle, coffee cup or little thermos. We are coffee lovers and actually this is an area John and I need to improve. Quite often we forget to pick up our reusable water bottles or coffee cups. Maybe we just need to find the ones we love and this problem will be solved. It is great that many coffee places nowadays are promoting a ‘bring your cup’ policy. When it comes to water bottles you can find a massive choice, from simple ones to others that can improve the quality of water by filtering.
- Reusable straw. If you are an American (a bit joking) or a person who just can’t live without straws then carry your own. Now you can easily buy stainless steel straw sets that come together with a brush for cleaning them and a bag. If you don’t like steel you can find bamboo or silicone options.
- Food container. We started to carry a reusable food box around with us recently and personally I am so happy about it because we can prepare some snacks to enjoy on our way to wherever, instead of buying heavily packaged and probably not so great stuff while we are out. Also sometimes if we have leftovers we have a way to store them.
- Utensil set. Well maybe you don’t need it, but if you have some light bamboo utensil set it doesn’t hurt to pack one. If you go for a picnic then it is better to take whatever you need with you than to buy some single use plastic ones. Actually I always like steel so why not to have a stainless steel utensil set!
- Reusable shopping bags. These are always super handy to have in your bag, just in case of unplanned shopping or for example sorting packing.
A couple more general tips
- To be a zero waste, ethical and eco-friendly traveller (or just to live like this in general) doesn’t mean that you need to reuse everything, just don’t accumulate trash.
- Check out secondhand shops for the long lasting things.
- Try to buy locally and directly from producers. in this way you support local business and save reduce both packaging and the amount of CO2 produced by transport.
- Quite often if you want to save and are on a budget it is actually better to buy better quality and more expensive products. In the long run the more durable and less breakable option is cheaper. If they are beauty products then they are probably better for your health.
- If you have a permanent living place then you can buy or order goods in higher quantities, to reduce packaging and transport.
If the zero waste lifestyle is unfamiliar to you then just take it easy and lightly step by step trying to find the things you need the most. What is good for me it is not necessarily good for everyone. Sometimes you just need to look around at home and you can find that you already have great tools for starting.
Enjoy your travels!