Whenever we travel, we inevitably leave trash behind. Trash that often ends up in our oceans, polluting our waterways, and killing marine life. We can do our part in lessening the environmental impact we have each time we set foot in a different destination.
Be it travelling to your weekend getaway, your dream destination locally or abroad for a long vacation, these eco-friendly items should be part of your travel essentials. You can use some of them when you go back to work too!
1. Shampoo Bar
We all know the hassle of having to transfer your shampoo to a smaller bottle when travelling. A shampoo bar solves this problem and it’s easier to pack too! Just make sure to put it in a different container from your bar of soap. Now you don’t have to worry about spilling contents into your luggage.
There are a variety of shampoo bars from various sellers and most of them are made from natural ingredients that will help in maintaining the health of your crowning glory. Hair conditioner bars are available too.
2. Face Towel
Go old fashion and bring a soft, face towel. It’s small enough to tuck into your backpack or luggage and instead of single use cotton pads, you can just wash it, let it dry and use again. You can bring an extra one to use as a make-up remover pad too.
Choose a towel with cotton material instead of microfibre material. Cotton fiber breaks down faster while microfibre takes a very long time to break down and usually ends up in the stomachs of whales, dolphins and other ocean creatures, killing them.
One benefit of the good, old face towel is that it lathers face washes or face soaps well and you don’t need to rub too hard to exfoliate. Once you no longer want to use it, you can recycle it as a rag to clean around the house before throwing it away.
3. Bamboo Toothbrush
Dentists recommend replacing our tooth brushes every 6 months or whenever we get sick. Plastic toothbrushes are so durable that sometimes we forget to change them or we don’t want to throw them away. Those of us who do replace tooth brushes regularly also throw away more plastic that adds to the non-biodegradable waste that pollutes our planet.
Bamboo toothbrushes are a better alternative. Not only are they biodegradable, they will also make it easier for you to know when to throw them away and replace them as they will naturally deteriorate. So when you notice that they’re not effective anymore or it’s time to replace them, you can feel less guilty for throwing them away.
4. Tooth Powder
Toothpaste tubes can be hard to fit into your toiletries bag, are sometimes messy when squeezed and its hard get out the last bit. Pack some tooth powder instead. These are easier to pack into a small container and you will use less the amount than you do with your regular toothpaste.
You only need to dip your slightly wet toothbrush to pick up the powder and brush your teeth as usual. You might need to get used to the slightly salty taste and not feeling any bubbles but it’s still minty and it actually gives your mouth a cleaner feeling that lasts longer than toothpaste. It is also made from natural ingredients which means you don’t accidentally ingest any chemicals. You can also DIY your own!
5. Dry Body Brush
This may be surprising but you can save a lot of soap and water when you dry brush your body before you take a bath. Dry body brushing stimulates drainage of the lymphatic system so that toxins do not accumulate and move along the proper channels to be disposed naturally by the body.
Dry body brushing also promotes better circulation and tones the skin. It is an effective exfoliation method so your beauty products are better absorbed by your skin. The method consists of brushing the body in round motions towards the heart, from the arms to the feet.
Once you’re in the shower, you don’t need to scrub as hard or you can forego scrubbing altogether. This means less use of soap or body wash and less time spent on rinsing off after scrubbing yourself.
6. Eco Bag
Never forget to bring your own eco bag for all your souvenirs and as an alternative bag to bring your travel essentials. Use it to haul grocery items home, carry your favourite books and gadgets around or to store your lunch at the office.
You can fold and pack it away and unfold it to use. You can also wash it and store it for use on your next travel. Eco bags come in a variety of sizes and styles. Choose one in cotton or canvas material. These will be thicker than other materials but they will be more environment-friendly.
For larger items to carry, you can also use bayongs made from recycled materials. The materials will not be biodegradable like canvas or cotton but they can be recycled. Make sure to care for them properly so they will last you a long time.
7. Metal Straws or Bamboo Straws
Single use straws are non-biodegradable and can be recycle while the alternative, paper straws go soggy when left submerged too long in your drink.
Metal straws are more durable and easy to clean so you can reuse them again and again. They are also not that expensive and you can choose from a variety of colours and sizes. There are bent/angled metal straws and even metal straws for milk tea.
If you want an alternative made from natural materials, then bamboo straws are your friend. They are cheaper than metal straws and they are easy to clean too. Unlike metal straws though, they only come in one shape, so no angled bamboo straw. The size of the hole also depends on the actual size of the bamboo plant it was made from so there may not be one for your milk tea either.
8. Wooden Cutlery Set
They’re lighter than metal cutlery sets but they’re just as functional. If you have a knife in your set, they’re just as sharp as a regular knife; just don’t use them for cutting very hard food items or non-food objects. These are great for camping trips and even for office use.
Wooden spoons, forks and knives are also easy to wash and also dry easily. Just like bamboo toothbrushes, they wear out naturally so you know when you need to replace them and you won’t add to the trash on the planet when you throw out the old ones.
Want to be eco-friendly at home too? Then opt for wooden bowls, plates, cups and mugs.
9. Water Bottle
How many plastic bottles of mineral water do you drink when you travel? How many end up on the garbage dump and end up floating in our oceans and blocking the waterways?
Next time you travel, bring your empty water bottle with you and just refill once you’ve reached your destination. Refill when you eat at restaurants too. You not only reduce your trash but you also save money when you don’t buy mineral water each time you’re thirsty. You can also keep your favourite beverages hot or cold for longer.
Try a glass water bottle or one made from a non-plastic material for more eco-friendly points.
For an even more minimal approach, why not invest in a collapsible cup? It takes only a small space when stored, is conveniently washable and although the silicon material is not exactly biodegradable, it will last you for a long while.
10. Beach Towels and Yoga Mats from Recycled Materials
Yes there are beach towels and yoga mats made from recycled plastic bottles. These are lightweight, easy to clean and won’t easily deteriorate. These aren’t as eco-friendly as items made from natural materials but they do reduce the number of plastic bottles that get dumped into our oceans.
We hope these items become part of your travel essentials and start you off on your efforts to help reduce humanity’s carbon footprint and harmful impact to our planet. All these items can be searched and bought online and in stores offering eco-friendly products.