5 Ways to Create Less Waste on Vacation
We all have done it, grabbed the little shampoo and conditioner bottles only to stash them away in our suitcases to get more the next day. It feels like a little free gift for staying at the hotel (especially if they smell really good). But do you really need them for home? Probably not. You have full sized shampoo and conditioner in your shower at home. Do you need them in the future? Probably not, because the next hotel will have shampoo as well, OR you actually already packed your shampoo from home because you are picky about what you use.
Yes our consumerism mentality really wants us to take take take, whether it is a free item or those little shampoo bottles. But I recently started to think differently about my desires and my need for these things.
If you have ever come across the footage of what can be found in a turtles stomach off the coast of Brasil or heard about the floating plastic island in the Pacific Ocean, or even come across my post of what Hawaii’s beaches really look like when you get off the tourist beaches, you might, like me, reconsider your plastic usage when on vacation.
If you want more stats on how much waste we create, check out Eco Conscious Traveller’s post on Facts that Make you want to Travel more Sustainability
I live in Canada, and we spend a lot of money on recycling. More than the cost of throwing it all in the garbage. But we have taken a step in trying to keep many things out of landfils, whether it is paper, food waste, plastics, metals, electronics and more! There is even eco-friendly cat litter! With more and more consumer products being disposable we are creating so much more waste than a few decades ago. We also eat a lot more takeout and pre-packaged foods.
One tip is to consider a good coffee maker rather than one you might dispose of quickly.
While plastic is a great product, it is also a very harmful product and I have come across a few ways to try and use less plastic, especially when traveling to countries where recycling is non-existant.
This is a more graphic example of the plastic in the water right now! While not all countries are in a place to ensure no plastic becomes waste, the images of the garbage are undeniable.
1. Bring your own shampoo
Like I mentioned above, do not use the little shampoo bottles. Bring your own from home, and If you do not want to travel with a full sized one, bring a reusable container. I do not even want to think about how many of these end up in the trash (or the ocean) every single day! More and more hotels (like Aura Accommodations in Rotorua, NZ) are moving to a full sized in-the-shower soap dispenser which costs less and prevents unnecessary waste.Shampoo bars are a great idea and will be coming with me on my next trip!
2. Consider a bamboo toothbrush
While toothbrushes do not often get tossed during a trip, there are millions of them floating in our oceans. Billions in fact. 4.7 billion toothbrushes are thrown into landfills or dumped into oceans each year. EACH YEAR! because of their density, they do not break up and can float for years. They make up a large part of the floating plastics in the ocean. A bamboo toothbrush will not contribute to this problem.
3. Skip the plastic straw
Another environmental problem is the plastic straw. Vancouver has become the first major city in Canada to ban the plastic straw and insisit on plastic free products as so many are never recycled and end up in landfills. When I recently visited New Zealand, I was impressed as to how many restaurants offered paper straws and my local coffee shop outside Vancouver uses biodegradable plastic straws for their drinks for customers who request a straw. An alternative would be a reusable metal straw.
4. Bring your own bags
Sometimes when I am in Jordan I go crazy at the amount of grocery store bags I am offered on a daily bases. Buy a bottle of water, get it in a bag. People look at me funny when I say “no bag,” as they are so used to handing them out by the hundreds. In a grocery store, buying 10 items will likely get you 5 plastic bags. I get it, plastic bags can be reused as trash bags, I do it at home myself, but hundred sea hundreds of them are also blowing across Jordan’s desert highway, in the hills of Wadi Rum, or worse, in Aqaba’s beaches. I try and travel with a canvas bag and use it for groceries or my daily purchases. Although I cannot change the culture of the Jordanians, it makes me feel better about not contributing to their trash problem.
When we were in France, they did not have plastic bags. You could purchase a reusable one for close to 1 Euro or more, which forced the consumer to come prepared or buy a bag.
5. Forgo the Plastic Bottle
Honestly, I drink a LOT of water. So do my kids. We buy anywhere from 2-10 bottles a day when we travel. That makes for a lot of waste. I try and buy the 1.5 Litre bottles (or bigger when I can get my hands on it) and use it to fill their own water bottles (we carry these ones with us on every trip) and my own. If I have to buy water, I make to to buy boxed water which is planet friendly.
I was recently introduced to Grayl which have a filter built right into them. Whether it is untreated tap water, creek streams or any fresh water source you can get your hands on, Grayl bottles claim to be up to the test! I am excited to try them out this summer while hiking in Canada. Yes we have really clean water, but we still usually hike with a filter or bleach tablets due to the cedar trees or any unknown bugs that might be in the water. I am hoping to completely eliminate the use of single use plastic bottle for my family with my new Grayl bottle
Our last Dead Sea visit was after a rainstorm. The beach was littered with plastic bottles that had come down with the water. Read more about the Dead Sea here
Some hotels and resorts, like Feynan Ecolodge, have also gotten rid of single use bottles and instead offer filtered water in Clay containers for guests. The clay keeps the water cool and they offer refill stations in the lobby.
Lindsay Nieminen hails from Vancouver, Canada and shares her love of travel on this website. She is passionate about showing others that they should not put off traveling the world just because they have young children or are single parents. She aims to encourage them to seek out adventure, whether it is at home or abroad by providing information on how just about everywhere can be a destination to explore as a family.