Welcome to our new mini-series on how to be an eco-friendlier traveler. If you’re anything like us here at Preparture, you’ll want to know how you can travel whilst doing your bit to look after the planet. We’re always looking at how we can be a little more conscious on our travels and do our bit to protect earth. After all, it’s the only home we’ve got. Today we’ll be focusing on one area of sustainability: ‘the 7 best eco-friendly products that you can pack into your carry-on’ to help you play your part.
As a general rule, travel in and of itself is not eco-friendly. Think of all the flights we take, or the Ubers, the rental cars, the plastic bottles, the garbage… the list goes on. Travel is no longer a luxury either, with many people bingeing short haul flights to get to their next bucket list destination on a monthly basis (Covid-19 notwithstanding of course), which puts extra stress on the planet as exhaust emissions shoot up.
Did you know that it’s estimated that travel will be to blame for 40% of the world’s carbon emissions as soon as 2050?
We’re not asking you to stop traveling though. Travel brings wonderful adventures that can help you visit corners of the world you’d never imagine. It can bring you opportunities that help shape you as a person, and it can give you that much needed rest and respite from everyday life. No, we’re not asking you to stop traveling; instead, we’re asking you to make small changes now to help keep your carbon footprint as small as possible. The more this message is spread, the more sustainable traveling will become.
So what can I do to make a difference?
When you pack your suitcase before you travel, are you really thinking about what you’re putting in? probably not. If you’re anything like me in fact, you’ll find yourself unpacking and repacking your suitcase multiple times before a trip to check you’ve actually packed everything you need.
Investing in a few sustainable and reusable products is really worth the time and money, especially for long haul flights. Now’s the time to really think about what you’re packing, and make those tiny tweaks that will eventually lead to a big difference. Let’s take a look at a few essentials for the plane that fit into your carry-on luggage.
Reusable Water Bottle
If you don’t have a reusable water bottle in 2020, where have you been? Seriously, plastic water bottles are incredibly bad for the environment and back in 2017 it was estimated that 1 million plastic bottles were bought every minute of the day. Worse still, up to 8 million plastic bottles make their way into the world’s oceans each day, posing a massive problem.
That’s not even the whole story either; plastic bottles are intended to be used only once, and when left in the sun, or used multiple times, poisons from the plastic can leak out into your fresh water, so even if you’re reusing the same plastic bottle that you bought last week, you could be doing yourself some serious damage in the long run.
There are reusable water bottles of every size, shape, and color imaginable, so it’s up to you which one you get your hands on. Some even flatten down to fit into tiny pockets in backpacks, so there’s no excuse.
Grab yourself a reusable water bottle for the airport (where drinks are also incredibly overpriced!) and on the plane, where an air steward(ess) will be more than happy to refill it whenever you need it.
“But I’m traveling to a country where I’ve been warned about the water supply and told to only buy filtered water that’s sold in bottles!”
Yes, that’s a valid concern. You certainly don’t want to be picking up any sort of parasite or bug that could shave a few days off your vacation by leaving you feeling less than fresh.
Nowadays though, water filters (some sold separately, some sold within a reusable bottle) are common, and can help filter water all over the world to make it safe enough to drink. While a little pricier in some instances, when you think about how many plastic bottles you’d probably end up buying on holiday, the price is comparable, and will definitely help to keep your plastic usage down significantly.
A Keep Cup
If you can’t get far without your morning shot of caffeine, grab yourself a Keep Cup, a collapsible coffee or tea cup that’s preferred over Styrofoam cups the world over. With many coffee shops offering discounts on coffee prices should a reusable cup be presented at the counter too, there’s an added incentive. You can use these at the airport as well as on the plane, and then simply wash them out in the bathroom. They come in a variety of colors and sizes too, so you can personalize your cup any way you like.
Reusable Lunch Box & Bamboo Cutlery
If you loathe in-flight food, you may opt to take your own snacks or meals onto planes. Unfortunately, that can sometimes include separate plastic sandwich bags for each item, which is of course awful for the environment.
Reusable lunch boxes come in a range of styles, colors, and sizes, which makes them the perfect choice whether you need one that fits just one meal inside, or one that has extra compartments for multiple snacks.
They’re space saving too, fitting snugly into your carry-on suitcase or bag, and with all your food kept together in one box, you won’t get stressed out rifling through your bag trying to find an escapee sandwich bag with your favorite snack in it.
As an additional purchase, you might want to consider a bamboo cutlery set. Lightweight and easy to clean, a bamboo cutlery set is strong and can last a long time. Plus, when you do eventually get rid of them, the materials used to make them won’t spend the rest of eternity trying to break down.
Long haul flights can leave us dying for a little hit of freshness, especially after those snacks and drinks. Most people take their toothbrush on board (thankfully), but did you know that your plastic toothbrush is also one of those products that takes eons to break down once it’s thrown in the trash?
With each person going through at least two toothbrushes per year, (and many people have a spare travel toothbrush kept completely separate to that), you can imagine just how many toothbrushes are discarded per day.
Bamboo toothbrushes are better for the environment, and last just as long as plastic toothbrushes. Packing one into your carry-on bag is convenient, and you’ll be doing your bit for the earth.
Solid Soap and Deodorant
Not only is trying to pack multiple products into your washbag space consuming, they’re also most likely packaged in plastic. Tiny bottles of shampoo, soaps, and deodorants have very little product inside them (has anyone ever been satisfied with how much product those bottles give for the price?); so little in fact, that you may even find yourself buying replacements whilst you’re on your vacation. They’re terrible for the environment, and your purse strings.
Solid soaps and deodorants are not only longer lasting and space saving, they usually contain more natural ingredients which are better for our bodies, and they come in handy recyclable cardboard boxes. Try packing a few solid soaps and deodorants in your carry-on and see how long they last. You’ll feel just as fresh after using them, and you’ll be doing your bit to help the earth.
Silicone Based Product Bottles
Got an allergy that means you can’t use solid soaps and deodorants or simply just want to carry on using your favorite soap? We get it.
Rather than purchasing smaller bottles of your favorite product though, why not shop around for silicone based, reusable mini bottles and filling them from your soap bottle at home? These product bottles are sold in the perfect size to get through airport security, and they’re reusable for your future flights too, so you can stay fresh and clean no matter where you are, and they’re the perfect size to fit into your carry-on luggage.
There are plenty of eco-friendly products out there that can help you take care of the environment, even on your travels. These are just the basics that everyone should have, but the list is endless. Come back next week for part two of our mini sustainable and eco-friendly travelers tips, where we’ll be talking about how to stay sustainable whilst exploring new places.