How to Travel Without Waste

Well, let’s make this: “How to Travel With *Minimal* Waste,” because the truth is that it’s really hard to travel with zero waste. Most forms of transportation emit some kind of waste, and we’re not asking anyone to be perfect—just better. 
Prepared By:

Tobey Schmidt

Adventure Photographer and Foodie

It’s much easier to control your waste contribution when you’re at home, in your routine. That is not as simple when you’re on the road, especially in unfamiliar places. Our biggest tip to controlling your waste while traveling is to plan ahead and be mindful. Below, we’ve compiled ways to help you prepare for your minimal-waste vacation!

Book Direct Flights

This isn’t always possible, but try to book direct flights to your destination if you can. According to a report from NASA, about 25 percent of airplane emissions come from landing and taking off.

Offset Emissions

Many airlines allow you to pay an extra fee to “offset” the emissions. Do your research into what exactly that means for each airline, as it may be different for each.

Pack Lightly

When the cargo weighs more, the aircraft takes up more fuel. Challenge yourself to just bring one personal item and one carry-on bag. 

Pack Snacks for the Flight

Even though we LOVE a good bag of peanuts on board the flight, those snacks create a lot of waste. It’s best to pack your own!

Bring Reusables for Water + Coffee + Meals

These are basic zero-waste guidelines—bring your own water bottle, thermos, and reusable utensils for on-the-go meals. 

Go Paperless

Instead of printing out your boarding passes, just download them on your phone. This doesn’t create waste, and it’s also way easier to keep track of them!

Avoid “Travel Size” Toiletries & Bring Zero Waste Alternatives

Shampoo, conditioner, soap, and even toothpaste doesn’t have to come in wasteful “travel size” containers anymore. Those can all be purchased as bars or tablets in tin or glass containers. 

Choose Human-Powered or Public Transportation

Walk, ride your bike, or take the local public transit system! Not only will this reduce your footprint, you’ll also save money and get a better understanding of the city this way.

Bring a Tote or Shopping Bag

Duh…don’t use plastic bags! Bring a tote bag to carry stuff with you on the plane, then use that when shopping or exploring the local farmer’s market.

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