“The Earth is what we all have in common.”— Wendell Berry
If you’ve always wanted to be a more sustainable traveller, but it seemed like too much of an effort, read on.
Travel can be much more eco-friendly than it is today, and that depends to some extent on whether we make better choices about the travel products we buy.
Some travel accessories are more sustainable than others, and you want to take that into account when you’re making changes to your packing list.
These changes are not extreme; you’ll still have everything you need.
In this post I review some of the most useful and most popular eco-friendly and sustainable travel accessories, that you want to add to your packing list on your way to becoming a more responsible, eco-conscious traveller.
You’ll find that many of these items, apart from helping you travel guilt-free, have other benefits, which I’ve included in my reviews. The best thing about most of them is that you can also use them at home for a more eco friendly lifestyle.
Here are the sustainable travel products you want to add to your eco-friendly packing list:
Recycled Packing Cubes
Packing cubes make both packing and unpacking so much easier.
Eagle Creek makes packing cubes from recycled materials. Their starter set includes three durable, water resistant and washable packing cubes in different sizes.
Packing cubes are good for saving space in your luggage by compressing bulkier items and are pretty essential for those who want to travel light.
They’re also great for simply organising your stuff, keeping clothing and travel accessories separated, so you can find everything in your luggage easily.
Reusable Water Bottles & Cups
A reusable water bottle is one of the most essential eco-friendly travel items.
There are plenty of good reasons not to buy bottled water in single-use plastic bottles, primarily the waste they create and the harmful effects of drinking from plastic containers over time.
The alternative is so simple.
Carry a water bottle with you and refill it throughout the day when you travel.
Apart from helping the environment and your own health, it will also save you a lot of money, and if you’re into stylish accessories, you can pick a water bottle design to suit your taste.
To avoid plastic, go for a reusable stainless steel bottle. Hydro Flask is one of the most popular bottles in this category. It will retain your drink’s temperature and won’t affect its flavour.
You can also get a silicone water bottle that’s collapsible to save space in your bag. Que has a great design, made of flexible food-grade silicone and is plastic- and BPA-free.
It’s not just plastic bottles that you want to avoid, but also disposable plastic cups. Coffee cups in particular are often not recyclable and create way too much waste unnecessarily.
The environmentally friendly option is to take a reusable coffee cup with you. Get a collapsible one, so that it won’t take up too much space in your bag.
The Stojo collapsible cup. comes with a straw and is good for hot or cold drinks.
It’s made of food-grade silicone and recyclable materials and is free from BPA.
Some coffee shops, including major chains, let you bring your own cup these days. They’ll even give you a discount if you do 🙂 Let’s hope this trend becomes more widespread.
This is a super useful piece of eco-friendly travel gear, that you can also use at home.
When you travel to sunny destinations, take a solar power bank with you to charge your phone and other devices.
The Renogy E.POWER 16000mAh is a waterproof portable solar charger with a built-in panel that’s perfectly sufficient for charging several devices.
Using sustainable energy to reduce your carbon footprint starts with even the smallest steps, like charging your portable power bank.
Its is a perfect gadget for backpackers and for when you go camping and don’t always have access to electricity.
Use free sunshine instead of electricity and you’ll be making a difference every day!
Eco Friendly Luggage
What about your bags?
Next time you need to buy a new piece of luggage, consider one made of sustainable or recycled materials, such as recycled bottles or cork.
Here are some great eco-friendly luggage options:
- Eagle Creek offers a wider range of bags from recycled materials, including wheeled luggage and backpacks.
- Samsonite’s Eco-Nu series offers wheeled luggage made of recycled bottles.
Plastic-Free, Zero-Waste Toiletries
We seem to take it for granted that shampoo, conditioner and shower gel come in plastic bottles and that deodorant comes in a plastic container as well.
But there are excellent alternatives that are readily available today.
If you use a soap bar, a solid shampoo bar and a solid deodorant you can easily save on a lot of plastic.
I recommend using these at home, not just when you travel.
One of the easiest ways to avoid plastic containers is to use the good old soap bar.
A soap bar is fairly common, but a solid shampoo bar may sound strange.
I’ve been using solid shampoo for a few years now and it’s a great consumer choice.
A shampoo bar looks similar to a soap bar and is very easy to use. You work it into a lather in your hands and then use it on wet hair.
One bar will last you several months, so it’s perfect for long term travel and will also help you travel light.
As solid shampoo bars are becoming more widely available, it shouldn’t be too hard to find one that’s good for your hair type.
For some hair types, a conditioner is a must. Instead of luggin plastic bottles with you, get one of these lightweight bars and they will not only help reduce waste, but also last for 5 months.
TIP: Both these conditioners can double as moisturisers or shaving bars.
Conditioner Bar for Normal-Dry Hair – For dry, damaged or frizzy hair.
Conditioner Bar for Oily-Normal Hair – For hydrating without adding weight or oil.
Plastic Free Deodorant
Deodorant can also come in a bar, with zero waste packaging and also free of ingredients that may be harmful to you, not just to the planet.
You can buy a deodorant bar online from brands like Ethique and Lush. However, if you want to stay on the safe side when buying a deodorant online, go for the unscented one.
Alternatively, you can make your own deodorant at home. It is extremely easy and it will give you more control over the scent, by using essential oils that you like. Reuse an old deodorant container or a small jar to store it.
Eco-Friendly Toothbrush Made of Bamboo
While they are relatively small objects, toothbrushes create a lot of plastic waste.
You throw away a plastic toothbrush every 6 months or so, and all that waste is completely unnecessary.
The sustainable alternative is made of bamboo.
I first heard about bamboo toothbrushes about 6 or 7 years ago and bought some right away.
Back then, I was convinced that in no time they’d become the standard and everyone would use them.
They have so many advantages to them, that it just seems obvious.
A toothbrush handle made of bamboo is biodegradable and with bristles that are plant-based, you won’t have to put plastic in your mouth twice a day.
Using disposable utensils is not a good idea, but when you travel you come across them way too often: On flights, at some restaurants, when you buy a packed lunch and when you get a take away.
I’m always glad that I have my spork with me on those occasions.
I’ve been travelling with a spork (spoon+fork) in my bag for years. I wash it after use and never have to throw any plastic spoons or forks away.
Any eco conscious traveller should add reusable utensils to her or his packing list.
Here are your best options for eco-friendly utensils:
Sporks have a spoon at one end and a fork at the other. Some also have a tiny knife. They take absolutely no space in your bag and are incredibly useful. I normally take 2 of them with me on every trip and have bought them as gifts for my family as well. Make sure you buy a BPA-free spork, like the original ones by Light My Fire.
Ordinary cutlery that you use at home is another option. Just wrap a set and put it in your luggage. As it’s a little bit heavier than the other options, this may be a good idea for shorter trips.
Another way to support sustainability when you travel: Plant a tree
I’ve recently come across Click A Tree, an initiative to plant trees around the world. They let you either pay for a tree to be planted (here) or plant a tree for free when you book your flights and accommodation via B’n’Tree.
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If you’d like more tips for sustainable travel, let me know in the comments below and I’ll share more in future posts 🙂