Updated: Mar 3, 2020
Katy Thompson (@kayteemae)
Mirza Yaumil (@mirzadesigns)
Essential Travel Kit to Refuse Single-Use
…because Single-Use was designed to be used once
and then disposed of or destroyed
We invited you to join us for 5 days without single-use products and we are so grateful for everyone who did. We wanted to continue sharing helpful tips on how to not use single-use products in your everyday life
One of the biggest contributors to the single-use industry is travel. A lot of us have an on the go lifestyle whether it is running from place to place with our kids, traveling the world or a stressful work schedule. It may seem impossible to not use single-use products, but we can assure you a little bit of planning can go a long way. Especially, when traveling
So, where do you even start when refusing single-use plastics as you travel?
Our Essential Travel Kit is here to help!
Essential Travel Kit to Refuse Single-Use
Water Bottles and Coffee Mugs
According to The Story of Plastic, “More than one million plastic bottles are sold every single minute.” That is just one of the reasons why this switch is a such game changer. It may seem easy to grab a coffee or water from the convenience store or café in the airport, but it is just as easy (and more affordable) to bring empty containers with you. This is why it is top of the list in our travel kit. If you haven’t made the switch to stainless steel water bottles and coffee mugs, your next trip may be the perfect opportunity to switch!
Staying hydrated (and caffeinated) are must haves while traveling. Before you leave, choose your favorite water bottle and coffee mug that is easy to carry or place in your bag. If you must go through security, make sure they are empty. There are usually water filling stations as soon as you are done. If you can’t find one, don’t be afraid to ask someone where it is or ask the nearest café to fill your bottle. Bringing your own bottle or mug not only saves you the $5 at the news stand for plastic, but you may even get a reusable cup discount at the coffee shops. It’s a win-win for you and the planet.
Straws are one of the biggest contributors to single-use product waste. They find their way into landfills and our oceans at alarming rates. Although there is a movement to switch to paper straws, the best thing we can do is just say no to using disposables at all. There are some great alternatives that make saying no easy and enjoyable.
At ecowaii, metal straws are our favorite. They are much more durable than a paper or plastic straws and eco-friendly, too. They are super convenient when you’re at a café or restaurant in the airport and you don’t want to place your mouth on the cup. Or you would rather keep your favorite latte away from your teeth. Whatever the reason may be, this sustainable alternative is the way to go when maybe you just can’t say no.
Did you know if you use 3 napkins each day, you will use about 1,095 each year? And about 25% of landfills consist of paper waste? That is why saying no to paper napkins on the go is so important. We are likely to grab a stack of napkins at a restaurant or coffee shop as we run out the door. Most of the time we don’t even use them. Even if we do, they become garbage that can be easily avoided.
When packing your go-bag for your trip, cut up squares of old fabric or cloth to carry with you. This stack of cloth can we used for so many things such as a towel dry your face after a rinse, a cloth to wipe your hands after a meal or a towel to clean up a mess. If you prefer not to pack a stack of cloths in your bag, you can purchase a linen napkin to keep with you in your bag and wash when you get to your destination.
Travel Hand Wipes
While you travel you may be exposed to a lot of germs. They are everywhere. It is important to do what you can to keep yourself healthy. Washing your hands can help tremendously, but a sink with soap and water may not always be available. You may want to use something like wet wipes to clean a surface or your hands. But just like napkins, wet wipes are another large contributor to landfill waste. Not only are they a single-use product, but wet wipes are usually filled with not-so-good-for-you chemicals. Good thing there is an easy alternative that you can make before you travel.
Before you go, take a few swatches of fabric or old cloths and soak them in warm water with a splash of castile soap. Ring them out well, fold them or roll them, and place them in an airtight container. Take this container with you in your bag and use them whenever you need to freshen up!
Pack Your Food
As you travel, you may find yourself choosing the most convenient food options. These options are almost always not healthy for you and the environment. Just like bringing your own water bottle, packing your own food in metal or glass containers can save you time in line and money at the end of your trip.
When you are getting ready to leave for your trip, make a list of snacks and meals you would like to bring. Think light! Metal containers tend to weigh less than glass containers and a salad will weigh less than potatoes. Very important to keep things comfortable! Packing food will reduce the likelihood of having to refuse single-use products at all because you have everything you need already with you. But don’t forget to pack your silverware!
What is easy to forget about until you need it? …silverware. You are getting ready for your trip and you have everything packed. Your food is ready. Your water bottle and coffee cup are in your bag waiting to be filled. You walk out of the door and get to the airport, train station, or hours down the road until you realize you need a fork. Sound familiar?
This can be super easy to avoid. And good thing because plastic forks and spoons are used every minute and billions are thrown away every year. According to The Ocean Conservancy, “cutlery is listed as items ‘most deadly’ to sea turtles, birds, and mammals.”
Before you go, be sure to pack your metal silverware from home. This can be washed and reused thousands of times. If you are prone to forgetting silverware from home, always keep an extra set in your bag for emergencies.
Metal Soap Containers and Refillable Bottles
It may be tempting to use the small shampoo and conditioner bottles in hotels or buy travel size products at the store. But there is a very easy way to bring your favorite sustainable and non-toxic products with you when you travel. At ecowaii, we love to use bar soap because there are no single use plastic containers that find their way into landfills and waterways.
The trick to carrying your bar soap on the go is finding a metal soap container that keeps your soap safe. This container can be used time and time again because it is durable and easy to use. If you are not a bar soap use (yet!), using silicon or metal travel size containers you can fill with the products you use at home is a great alternative to buying more. This tip can be used for your moisturizers, face toners, or any other cosmetic or hygiene products you may need to bring with you.
Use your next trip as an opportunity to take inventory of the products you use at home. Maybe it is time to make the switch to bar soap or the use of bulk filling stations at your local co-op or non-toxic beauty store.
A Great Backpack
You will need something to carry the items of your kit including your essentials like your favorite book, a journal, or work necessities. A great backpack that you can easily throw on your shoulders and move from place to place with will be key to your comfort and no-waste mission.
It is important to remember that not all bags are created equal. If we will be carrying a reusable water bottle and coffee cup, a bag with no side pockets is not ideal. Before leaving for your trip, make a list of all the items you will want to carry with you. Categorize it and take inventory of the storage space. We recommend a bag with side pockets, a compartment for your technology, space for a personal hygiene bag, and of course… a space for your snacks!
If you are thinking you need to go out and buy a new bag, that is not the case. At ecowaii, we are all about reusing what you already have. Just choose the one in your closet that works best for you. And if you’re really craftly, try stitching new pockets into a bag that needs extra organization. Make it yours!
Small, but Mighty Items
There are small items that are easily overlooked when traveling. Here are some extra tips to consider when packing for your next adventure:
Try packing small swatches of fabric or old wash cloths to use for cotton squares when removing make-up or just freshening up after a long flight.
Say no to packing Q-tips. We are not the only ones who recommend this. The medical community recommends gentle methods to clean our ears such as hydrogen peroxide or your finger with a swatch of cloth. But if you are a fan of using Q-tips, there are awesome reusable and washable silicon Q-tips available to purchase.
Have you switched to a stainless-steel razor? Maybe this is the perfect opportunity to try it out. Instead of buying a new package of disposables for your trip, a long-lasting metal razor is the way to go!
Another quick switch you can make before your trip is a bamboo toothbrush. Bamboo is a fast-growing renewable resource that can be harvested in 1-5 years. Bamboo has a considerably smaller ecological footprint compared to plastic. You can even compost the handle after removing the nylon bristles.
This is not an item, but a great way to be eco-friendly when traveling is to be mindful. When packing, choose only the items that you really need. Traveling light can make for a smoother journey. Reuse towels, choose a green destination when possible, choose e-tickets over paper, and just try your best.
Keep in mind, you do not have to have everything from this kit. Pick and choose which ones work best for you. If that is all of them, amazing!! If it is two or three, great!! We hope you find this helpful when packing for your next trip so saying no to single use is easier than ever.