Let’s talk about travel essentials, more specifically, travel essentials that are not only cleaner for the environment but will help you offset your carbon footprint, are easy to use, efficient and fun to use too!
This is the A-Z of Eco Friendly Travel Essentials to unleash the sustainable traveller (or as I prefer to travel; backpacker) in you. Being also a minimalist traveler, this list is just the absolute essentials, which is all part of the goal of traveling light, reducing our carbon footprint and being more immersed in travel experiences.
Eco Friendly Travel Essentials for Sustainable Backpackers
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Did you know that every plastic toothbrush you’ve used in your life is just chilling somewhere on the earth right now? Compostable bamboo toothbrushes are the way to go!
They have a compostable handle which means that they won’t stay in a landfill forever or end up in the ocean hurting the earth. And the bamboo used to make them is easily replenished since it grows so quickly in the areas where it is cultivated.
Search up your local/regional bamboo toothbrush retailer, ie. any store that sells organic, eco friendly products. If you’re in the UK or Europe, my go to bamboo toothbrushes are in the link below.
Containers for leftovers
My favourite thing to do when I travel is eat. I like to order a little bit of everything to sample. It’s always such a bummer though when you’ve gone out for a nice meal, you have all these amazing leftovers, and you ask for a doggie bag but they come out with plastic boxes.
Having your own little containers alleviates that guilt and allows you to have a little snack for later too (remember, waste not, want not.)
The issue here is the same as with all products that come in plastic containers. They end up… well we just don’t know where they ultimately end up.
Using a good deodorant bar from an organic natural store like Lush, Holland & Barrett or any of the amazing online ethical beauty stores, will help you take a little step for the environment.
It comes with no packaging and it can easily be carried around in a metal tin or its own sustainable (metal, glass, cork etc) packaging. If you ask me, it also has an even better natural fragrance than other chemically enhanced deodorants.
If you’re male, skip forward. If you’re a woman and you’re new to the world of menstrual cups, you may want to read this.
Not only can traveling with your cup offset your landfill waste contribution to the country you’re visiting but you may find it difficult in some countries to buy sanitary products like pads and tampons. You may be forced to bring your own but then bulky packets of pads take up extra space in your bags.
Menstrual cups take up minimum space is your bags and can last you for up to 10 years before having to be replaced. Studies have also shown that they’re more hygienic and safer for the body than other sanitary products.
Around 437 million to 8.3 billion plastic straws are currently floating around the ocean causing a danger to wildlife and damaging their habitats.
We use a straw for all of maybe a few minutes before finishing a drink, so plastic straws are easy to dismiss in daily life as none consequential. Put them all together however and we have a pile of plastic causing chaos.
Metal straws can be reused and kept for many years if taken care of properly. It’s a super simple swap that will make a massive impact.
Metal or Reusable water bottle
Many countries still do not have the facilities to recycle single use plastic bottles, which means that when visitors contribute to the amount of plastic bottles being bought, this has disastrous repercussions on the enviornment. Not to mention, buying bottles of water every day adds up in the wallet.
Having your own water bottle, whether it’s metal or a reusable one with a filtration system, will save you money and will help make the earth a little bit cleaner.
Also, when buying smoothies or drinks, if the beverage comes in a plastic cup, don’t be afraid to ask the person to put your drink in your reusable bottle or to not put in a plastic straw. You may get some funny looks but it’s worth it.
Reusable Coffee mugs
Although a lot of coffee shops are making more of an effort to use compostable or easily recycled coffee takeaway containers, why not just avoid risking it, and take your own coffee mug. The UK uses 7 million disposable coffee cups a day, and around 2.5 billion a year, of which only 1% is actually recycled.
I purchased my reusable coffee cup from Pret A Manger, a coffee shop in the UK, because I just love their turmeric lattes and kept going back for more. I also have a taller one from Disneyland that holds a bit more. Everywhere is selling them, so it’s worth making that one time purchase for a good cause.
Reusable cutlery set (wooden or metal)
It comes in handy to have your own cutlery so that you can refuse plastic cutlery from takeaways or markets. It also comes in handy on airplanes as well. The aviation industry is already producing so much CO2, the least they could do is reduce their plastic, but this is where you come in.
You can help reduce your carbon footprint by refusing the plastic cutlery they may offer you on the plane. Just hand the hostess back the plastic set at mealtime, more often than not they understand where you’re coming from. Hopefully if more people do this, the airlines will begin to get the message that we want more plastic free options.
You can either get a special set just for when you travel, or just do as I do, and grab a set from home to take with you on the road! Avoid anything sharp though unless you want to get stopped in security.
Reusable makeup remover pads
Anything that you can replace with a reusable cloth, that’s easily washed and easily reused is worth looking into, and this goes for makeup moreover too ladies. Cotton balls or pads have to be thrown away, which means they take up space in landfills and cannot be reused.
Reusable pads are cheaper options in the long run, they’re easily cleaned in the washing machine and they’re gentle on the skin. They can be used with any makeup remover or micellar water you prefer.
A safety razor is a reusable metal razor that comes with a blade you can use several times before needing to replace (by recycling properly) or sharpen when the metal is blunt. It does take some getting used to because it can be sharp and different to use than ordinary plastic disposable razors but once you’re used to it, it’s so worth it.
An epilator would do the trick as well!
Shampoo & conditioner bars
Avoid traveling with plastics that are not easily recycled. Shampoo and conditioner bottles included. These packaging free bars are easy to use, just as efficient and take up less space in your bags too.
They are made from natural ingredients that are good for your hair, with fewer chemicals and are made in ethical ways with organic products. You can also buy a little tin for you to store them in.
Toothy tabs or organic toothpaste
To avoid traveling with toothpaste tubes that may not be recycled in some countries, why not travel with tooth tabs which come in easily recycled containers.
The ones from lush ones are my absolute favourite and work just as well as regular toothpaste with the added bonus that they’re free of fluoride. Several other places have toothpastes that come in glass containers, or you could look into homemade or organic toothpastes that can be carried in your own glass or metal containers.
It’s always a good idea to have a spare tote bag on you when you travel. That way, instead of asking for a plastic bag when you do your shopping, you’ll have your own.
Alternatively, if you forget your reusable bag, if you’re shopping in a big grocery store, ask if they’ve got a cardboard box you could have. In smaller shops, ask for a paper bag, and if you really need to, just put your little goodies in your handbag until you can put them in the car or in your bigger bag.
In the search for ways to lessen the impact that our travels have on the places that we’re visiting, it’s important to choose quality over quantity and to remember that not every country has the same rules and enforcement when it comes to environmental care and precautions.
If you have any more eco friendly travel alternatives that you think I should add to the list, please do share them in the comments below!
Sit back, grab some Oreos and I can’t wait to see what life has to offer us next.