Sustainability is all about the long term impacts of where we go and what we do. Sustainable travel involves thinking carefully about every decision we make regarding our vacation plans. It involves making sure that we do no harm to people or planet, and support systems designed to last. When we travel sustainably, we help make sure that future generations can enjoy the wonders of this world as much as we do. Learning how to reduce plastic use on your sustainable travels is one way to move in the right direction.
Why Reduce Plastic Use?
Most of us are now aware that plastic is a major problem in today's world. Plastic, both visible and too small to see, impacts every environment on earth. It is found in almost every ecosystem, from the deep oceans to the highest peaks. In wildlife it disrupts the food chain and kills many creatures each year. Plastic even makes its way into the human body – effecting our health in ways that are not yet fully understood.
It is clear that we have to do something about the problem of plastic. But what exactly can we do?
It is easy to feel helpless in the face of such a massive problem. But though this is a global problem – we can do a lot to tackle it on an individual level. While governments and businesses will also have to play their part, we as individuals can also begin to take back control. It is important to remember that, as consumers, we have a lot of power. This is as true on our vacations as it is in our home lives.
Reduce Plastic Use Through Packing Wisely
A big part of reducing plastic use, at home or while on vacation, is preparation and planning. If we are organised and prepared, we are far less likely to find plastic foisted on us against our will when we are out and about. A little bit of preparation will also make it easier to identify plastic in all its forms – and work out where there is a better and more sustainable alternative available.
When preparing for and packing for your trip, consider natural rather than synthetic clothing options when choosing new clothes or new luggage for your adventure. (Synthetic clothing like polyester, nylon, spandex, acrylic etc. are 'plastic' clothes, made from fossil fuels. Every time you wash them, tiny particles of plastic are washed down the drain.)
You should also consider making purchases that might make it easier to avoid more plastic while you are away. For example:
- A reusable drinks bottle to use and refill when out and about.
- A hemp or organic cotton tote bag to carry any souvenirs or other shopping home.
- Natural soap/ cleaning and beauty products so you won't have to buy these in plastic bottles while away.
- Bicarbonate of soda to use as a dry shampoo while travelling.
- (For women) A silicon cup to avoid the need for plastic sanitary products. These can also make things much easier when travelling the globe.
Reduce Plastic Use By Careful, Considerate Travel
Some of the most problematic plastic pollution is that which is too small to easily see. Microplastic pollution can easily be overlooked and many people are unaware of many of its sources.
As mentioned above, washing 'plastic' clothing or other fabric items sends small bits of plastic down the drain. Another thing to bear in mind is that when cars and other vehicles drive on roads, the tyres rubbing on the road surface also releases a quantity of plastic pollution.
Sustainable travel always involves thinking carefully about how you get where you are going. Of course, travelling on the ground is generally better than travelling by air. But to reduce plastic pollution – road travel should also be kept to a minimum. Consider reaching your destination by rail, or, better yet, by sailing, paddling, cycling or hiking.
Reduce Plastic Use Where Your Stay
Choosing a sustainable accommodation option is one key way to reduce your negative impact. That can include reducing plastic use. A sustainable campground, hostel, guest house, apartment or hotel will take measures to help guests minimise their plastic use and the waste that they generate. For example, you should consider an option that:
- Provides natural, organic bedding (or allows you to bring your own).
- Avoids the use of small,plastic bottles of shampoo/ conditioner etc. and instead uses larger containers fixed to the wall, for example.
- Provides food grown on the premises or very close by, to avoid the need to purchase food in plastic packaging.
- Does all that they can to reduce, reuse and recycle.
- Uses reclaimed or natural materials in construction and interior design etc.. and avoids choosing damaging items to provide guests with the things they need for a comfortable and relaxing stay.
Reduce Plastic Use When Eating and Drinking While Away
You may be having some success in reducing plastic use while at home, but find it more of a challenge while you are away. On your sustainable travels, one of the problematic areas can be the food and drink you purchase. It can be a challenge to find items on the go that are not wrapped in plastic. To reduce plastic use, consider:
- Carrying your own water bottle and utensils.
- Choosing to buy from markets, farm shops and stalls rather than supermarkets and other larger shops. Choose organic produce that is as local as possible wherever you go.
- Consider making your own picnics and bringing water with you so you don't need to buy as much on the go.
- Bring silicon containers or beeswax wraps to make it easy to store your picnics and save your leftovers for later if you are dining out.
- Vote with your feet – go places that you know are making efforts to avoid plastic use, and avoid giving any money to the worst offenders.
These are just some of the ways that you might be able to reduce plastic use on your sustainable travel trips. If you have some more tips , feel free to comment below to let all of us Eko Travelers know.