Single-use plastics are clogging our waterways and littering pristine landscapes.
It’s common knowledge that the ubiquitous presence of plastic in our environment poses a threat to our wildlife, killing dolphins and turtles and birdlife as what leaves land heads out to sea.
Anyone who has seen footage of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a soupy collection of plastic and debris floating in the North Pacific Ocean — will understand plastic is a huge problem. So what can you, the conscious traveller, do to protect our fragile planet?
Here are 20 hacks to reduce plastics on your travels.
1. If you feel like a cocktail sucks without a straw, then buy a reusable straw that can be rolled out for many a mai tai.
2. Eat less takeaway. Prepare meals yourself and avoid using Styrofoam and single-use plastic. When eating out, eat in (and, even better, opt for plant-based menu items).
3. Say no to plastic shopping bags. BYO reuseable fabric bags instead.
4. Bring a reusable flask, coffee cup and stainless-steel water filtration bottle.
5. Ditch the tampons: use an OrganiCup medical-grade long-lasting silicone menstrual cup instead.
6. Bring your own cutlery so you can decline the plastic knife and fork that is provided (and wrapped in more plastic) when flying.
7. BYO food packed in a reusable metal or ceramic bento box when flying on a budget airline.
8. Pack a canvas tote bag, which will come in handy for a multitude of reasons.
9. Don’t use the mini bottles of shampoo and conditioner when staying in hotels. Opt for unpackaged toiletries like shampoo and conditioner bars. If you forget your own toiletries and use the mini bottles take them with you so you can refill for next time.
10. Choose eco-friendly accommodation that provides guests with filtered water, not single-use plastic bottles.
11. Curate your own planet-friendly amenity kit with a bamboo toothbrush, organic face products such as the UpCircle Face Serum (made with coffee oil used from repurposed grounds) and an Eco Tools Travel Kit to make maintaining your makeup guilt-free.
12. If you’re flying for business, bring a recycled lanyard, and refuse any plastic items that might be doled out to conference delegates.
13. Shop at farmers’ markets, where fresh produce isn’t pre-packed into plastic bags. If you have a penchant for street food, bring your own container – be it a coconut shell or a metal camping bowl.
14. Don’t buy mini toothpaste or deodorant. Travel with an oversized toiletry bag so you can pack a regular-sized bottles of toiletries.
15. If you’re buying a beverage, opt for a glass bottle instead of plastic. Drink filtered tap water where possible.
16. Carry your own headphones on long-haul flights to avoid using the disposable earphones provided on flights.
17. If you are in the wilderness or will likely be going days without a shower, buy biodegradable alcohol-free wet wipes that are made from compostable viscose fibre.
18. Avoid using face wash or products that contain microplastic scrubbing beads.
19. Volunteer to pick up plastic and rubbish when visiting cities and countries that don’t have the infrastructure to deal with the waste. And do your bit on the daily by subscribing to the #take3forthesea philosophy (the organisation removes about 10 million pieces of rubbish annually in 129 countries).
20. If you book a tour, make it an eco-conscious tour that adheres to the Leave No Trace principles.