Shrink Your Footprint with these Eco-Friendly Travel Essentials
Travelling is a big part of my lifestyle. Most weeks I’ll be on a plane jetting either interstate or overseas. While this sheer amount of travel has turned me into an excellent and efficient packer, it’s easy to forget that many of our decisions when travelling have a negative impact on the environment. To begin with, there is the obvious fact that planes and cars pump out large emissions into the atmosphere. Then there is our hotel patronage which poses other problems – I’m talking about single use toothpastes, plastic shampoo bottles and daily washing of towels and sheets.
To top it all off, because we are out of routine, travel can be an easy accumulator of waste. There are the plastic water bottles you buy if you’re in a foreign country, the takeaway containers from the night markets, and the throwaway coffee cups that keep you caffeinated and adequately energised for your adventures. It’s easy to forget our keep cups and reusable grocery bags that are staples in the course of our normal daily grind.
Travel in itself is not an eco-friendly pursuit; because of this, it’s all the more important to bring along as many sustainable alternatives as you can. I’ve listed below a bunch of my favourite eco-friendly travel products that will automatically reduce your footprint!
1. Bamboo Toothbrush: this is SUCH an easy switch to make, and is even more important when you’re travelling so you don’t need to use the single use hotel toothbrushes. Conventional plastic toothbrushes are not biodegradable and won’t break down in the trash, all the while leaching harmful toxins into the environment. On the flipside, bamboo toothbrushes are designed with the eco-friendly in mind. Just don’t forget to cut the bristles off your brushes before you recycle them - some are still made of plastic. Feeling extra eco-friendly? Try this DIY Toothpaste recipe!
2. Thieves Hand Sanitiser: one or two of these are always in the bottom of my bag. Travelling is kind of dirty. You touch lots of things, get dusty and grimy, and then put your fingers in your mouth to shovel in local delicacies. Thieves hand sanitiser is chemical free and is perfect for use before every meal. It also comes in handy when you have to use toilets that have no fresh running water available!
3. Canvas Tote Bag: these are a versatile lifesaver when travelling. You can use them to carry produce from the local markets, to protect toiletries or electronics, to store dirty washing or for carrying your jumpers when it heats up. They also fold up super small so you don’t feel like you are wasting any precious space by bringing it along with you.
4. KeepCup: coffee tastes different in every single country. Unless you go to Starbucks, I guess, but if you’re anything like me you’ll steer away from the giant chains and opt for more of the local standouts. Coffee is a daily essential for me, which means it’s all the more important to bring my KeepCup with me when I’m away.
5. Essential Oils: those of you who spend much time with me know I am never without my oils. These low-tox, chemical free plant extracts are a MUST for travelling. I use lavender and cedarwood for sleep support, purification and thieves oil to support my immune system and prevent me from getting any nasty bugs, and citrus oils for my daily dose of Vitamin C!
6. Reusable Cutlery Pack: If you’re ordering takeaway or grabbing snacks from a restaurant, or perhaps even sitting at a café that only offers plastic forks and spoons, you can whip out these bad boys and save the plastic. They are also great to use on flights so you can say no when the flight attendants push those shiny plastic packages onto your tray. They’re so light and easy to carry, and it’s much nicer to eat from proper cutlery than plastic ones!
7. Water Bottle: reusable stainless steel insulated bottles are the way to go when exploring the world. We go through so many plastic water bottles each year which can easily be avoided. I understand this is a different issue if you’re travelling through India and need to make sure you have access to clean water, but for many places tap water, or filtered water provided by your hotel, is the way to go.
8. Menstrual Cup: there’s no way around it - finding tampons in some countries is near impossible. I’ll never forget my sister recounting a dreaded tale about how she needed to buy tampons before her trek in Argentina, and had to instead opt for pads. Yuck! Be prepared and bring your trusty menstrual cup. No mess, no leakage, and no running from store to store when your crimson flow arrives unannounced!
9. Ocean Friendly Sunscreen: when we are exploring, we tend to spend more time outside than we would at home. With skin cancer rates on the rise, it’s now more important than ever to be conscious of protecting our skin. Yet we often forget that conventional sunscreen contains toxic chemicals that leach into our waterways and hurt our ecosystems.