When we are travelling our routine and habits drastically change and we need to adapt to these changes. How can we stick to a zero waste lifestyle when travelling and when outside of our comfort zone?
In general, zero waste living can becoming really challenging without the right equipment! Especially when travelling, it is essential to choose a few key zero waste products that will fit the following criteria:
- Light and portable
- Flexible, that can be used in different occasions
- Durable and not fragile
Zero Waste Eating and Drinking
A Stainless Steel Bottle
A stainless steel water bottle is the must-have essential for everyone wanting to commit to travelling zero waste. Why stainless steel? Because it can be used both as a water bottle and as a hot drinks container. There is a really wide range of stainless bottles on the market but I highly recommend to get a 12 oz one, or it will be too heavy to carry . My absolute favourite is S’well 12 oz stainless steel wide mouth water bottle. It’s light, sturdy and compact. The wide mouth is perfect to use the bottle both as a water bottle and as a coffee/tea mug, but the narrow mouth one is easier to drink from on the go.
A Reusable Coffee Cup
This is actually one of the items I use the most, along with my reusable bottle, during my trips. Whenever I am having breakfast or an afternoon drink on the go, I make sure I ask to refill my cup instead of using any disposable ones. People are actually really impressed and are also happy to be able to save some money themselves on disposable cutlery!
My all time favourite brand is KeepCup, made with glass, it’s really light and has a very simple design with a beautiful minimalist cork holder to prevent you from burning your hand while holding it.
I also really like the Ecoffee Cup. Made from bamboo fiber, it’s also really light and comes in a bunch of different fun colours.
Reusable handkerchiefs can take a bit of time to get used to. However, they are a real must to bring along when travelling because they can be used in so many different ways – not only gross ones
Here are some of my favourite uses:
- if you don’t have a case, you can use them to hold your toothbrush
- Use them to wipe your hands when you are in public restrooms
- If you are getting food on the go (e.g a sandwich or any dried snacks), wrap them in your handkerchiefs and ditch any disposable plastic or paper bags.
A Spork and/or a Pair of Chopsticks
A spork and/or a pair of chopsticks are really all you need to avoid any disposal cutleries on tour zero waste travels. You don’t really need both, it’s really down to personal taste. For example, I prefer using chopsticks because I am not a particular fan of the texture of which sporks are usually made of. Plus, I am a big fan of Asian cuisine! My chopsticks come from this lovely set from Amazon.
A Lightweight Bamboo Fiber or Wheat Fiber Food Container
I must admit that a food container is not the lightest of the items you would consider packing up for a trip. But image if you are travelling and you need to take food away to eat on the go. What could you do to avoid any disposable plastic containers? I would recommend bringing a lightweight bamboo fiber or wheat straw food container, which you can carry with you whenever you are going out and know you will likely eat on the go.
These are my favourite picks:
- Luxcathy Natural Bamboo Fiber Airtight 2-Layer Lunch Box (800-1000ML, Pink)
- Wheat straw bento box with two compartments and cutlery
Note: bamboo fiber and wheat fiber both look really similar to plastic in texture and weight, but they are actually biodegradable. A great plastic free alternative!
Zero Waste Toiletries
Zero Waste Toothpaste
In my opinion, one of the best toothpaste to carry on the go are the toothy tabs from Lush! I alternate the “dirty” type and the charcoal “boom” ones, and could not have been happier about this discovery. They are really light and small, and mess-free! How to use them? Simply pop them between your front teeth and crush the tablet as it were a candy. Brush on it and the typical toothpaste foam will appear to make your teeth super shiny and healthy. A note: as these tabs do not contain any fluoride, I am currently alternating these with normal toothpaste I have left to transition into this new formula.
Lush toothy tabs are currently packaged in plastic containers, but you have the option of bringing these back into the store where they will be recycled and reused in store. In this photo you can see one of the Lush plastic containers which has been recycled and reused in store already 7 times!
Every single toothbrush ever created still exists on earth. The impact that a plastic toothbrush has on the environment is enormous. Instead, a bamboo toothbrush is almost entirely compostable. How about the bristles? They are made of nylon, and the only current alternative, which is 100% compostable, is pig hair or horse hair. Needless to say, this is not a sustainable or a vegan option. Plus, I have heard that those natural bristles also fall off really easily. The result? pig hair in your mouth during your morning teeth brushing routine!
At the moment, the best option is to go for a bamboo toothbrush with Nylon-6 bristles, which is a type of nylon that will degrade faster than other types. In fact, the bristles cannot be recycled because they are too small and lightweight, thus they have to be sent to the landfill. An unfortunate truth but so much better than sending a whole toothbrush that will pollute our earth and oceans.
You can find bamboo toothbrushes really anywhere now, but if you are looking for a good quality one I recommend the Humble Brush, which I know for sure it’s made with nylon 6.
I also use YoBamboo Bamboo Toothbrushes. They have a really good quality and the neat little feature of different symbols on the handles to distinguish them.
Bamboo Charchoal Dental Floss
Due to its really small nylon filaments, traditional dental floss is one of the hardest products to recycle. However, this is one of the easiest zero waste swaps I have introduced into my zero waste travel essentials kit. My favourite floss is from the UK brand Georganics.
Made from charcoal produced from sustainable bamboo, this floss is natural, safe and biodegradable. The only downside is that it’s not 100% vegan, but I have read on Georganic’s Amazon shop page, in their “questions” section, that they are working on producing a 100% vegan floss, coated with candelilla wax instead of beeswax. In any case, I firmly believe that this is a much more sustainable option than using a silk dental floss.
Solid Shampoo, Conditioner and Soap
Solid shampoos and conditioners are a great zero waste alternative to products packaged in plastic bottles, and are also small and super easy to carry around when travelling.
Needless to say, a bar of body soap is a must. A smart zero waste move would be to choose a bar that you can use for both your face and your body, and that is also good for shaving.
Learn how to create your own shampoo bars from scratch!
The amount of plastic going into a disposable plastic razor is unbelievable. Not only the razors are made of plastic, but the packaging itself is also always made of plastic, often not even recyclable. A safety razor is the plastic free solution that will change your shaving routine. Before making the purchase I had read many reviews complaining about the sharpness of the blades. Many people also pointed out that, due to the blades position, it was difficult to use this razor. In my personal opinion a safety razor is SO much easier to use than a normal disposable razor!
Because the blades are sandwiched between a metal clasp, you can actually use the razor from two sides. Another really great benefit is that hair don’t get stuck between the blades but slip right through them. To me, a no brainer! This is the actual razor I use. I love the bamboo design, the quality and the price are also great. This razor also comes in a cardboard packaging with just one lining of foam to protect the razor.
I have been looking for a proper solid deodorant that would replace any plastic disposable ones or, even worst, any spray/aerosol ones. Interestingly enough, most of the zero waste deodorants on the market come with some sort of packaging. True, they are not wrapped up in plastic but often come in metal tins or paper tubes. Do we really need any packaging though?
My all time favourite and true zero waste deodorant comes, once again, from Lush. Just walk in the store and buy it completely package free. I have been enjoying the Sunflower and Aromaco solid deodorants and carry them on my travels in Lush metal tins.
I would like to conclude this little guide with one of my favourite zero waste travel essentials: the menstrual cup. There are several reasons why the cup is far better than any other option. I use reusable pads as well (you can read my review here), but they are not ideal when travelling simply because they do take some time to dry and this can be a big problem if you don’t have time or facilities to do your laundry. The cup instead, is a real game changer.
I know there are mixed feelings about using the cup on the go, especially because many people get really scared about the idea of having to clean and reuse the cup in public restrooms. However, the cup can be used up to 12 hours, and really needs to be emptied once during the day during your heavy flow days. In my experience, cleaning the cup can be really easy when on the go. All you need is to find a restroom with a sink, wash and change the cup at your own pace.
I hope you have found my zero waste travel essentials guide helpful. Have you also started realising how adopting this lifestyle fun and simple? Share any comments and ideas below!
Hey, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram: @bottegazerowaste