It’s no secret that traveling is hard on the environment. While some things like flying may be unavoidable, we can take simple actions to reduce or even negate the carbon footprints of our travels by becoming more eco-friendly travelers. If you already own something that’s similar to what’s listed below, there’s no sense in tossing it out and buying a new one. That being said, these are what my husband and I use every day that we aren’t at home (or even when we are, like numbers 4 and 10), and we love these products. They’re so helpful in our goal to move towards being zero waste. We aren’t perfect about always saying no to straws, or taking short showers, but we do our very best and that’s what matters.
I didn’t like the idea of buying new things to become more of an eco-friendly traveler at first, because that in and of itself seems like a wasteful attitude to have, but once we realized that if we invest once in something quality and we’ll never have to buy it again, it was well worth it.
- Drink from a Life Straw instead of bottled water
Life Straws filters out 99.99999% of bacteria and pollutants, and when combined with boiling water (which can be done in a hotel’s coffee pot or stove), is cleaner than bottled water, and decreases the demand for bottled drinking water, which is wasteful and harms the environment, and pollutes the places we visit even further. You can even drink straight out of puddles with these!
- Don’t use disposable cups, napkins, knives, etc. Instead opt for metal cutlery or a reusable plate.
When we travel, especially when we go abroad or into more rural locals like Mexico, Canada, or Southern Japan, we pack reusable utensils, and these foldable plates, which are easy to clean and prevent paper waste when we travel. This rolling set of utensils, chopsticks, and a straw is my favorite, because I can use this in lieu of wasteful plastics wherever I go, and it barely takes up any space.
- Ditch plastic straws and bring your own reusable bamboo or steel straws. We take these bamboo straws with us everywhere we go, and always ask for drinks without straws, and they look amazing in photos. Every bit of plastic we refuse helps keep our planet clean, and that benefits all of us. This set comes with two straight straws, two bent straws, a carrying pouch, and a bristle brush to clean them, for only $3.99 and free shipping!
- Pack your snacks or leftovers in these reusable silicone bags
We gave up plastic bags a long time ago, and have used these reusable storage bags ever since. I keep a large one in my purse when I travel in case I want to buy something in bulk, or bring leftovers home. I can’t even count how many times people have thanked me for not using styrofoam take-out boxes for my last little bits of salad or bulk purchases. They’re very easy to wash by hand or in a dishwasher, and a big part of being an eco-friendly traveler.
- Opt for bamboo travel toothbrushes instead of plastic
Single use plastics are the worst, but bamboo, which grows up to two feet per day, is a sustainable alternative that is much gentler on your body and the eco-system. We use these bamboo toothbrushes with bamboo cases, and we love them. Did I mention they’re biodegradable?
- Keep showers short, and use the coldest temperature you can tolerate.
Water is scarce in many places around the world, and it’s respectful to your hosts to not use up all of their hot water, or run up their bill.
- Walk, bike, or use public transportation whenever possible
In some places, it’s not possible to walk or bike because of weather or how remote they are, and in some places (like much of the United States), public transportation can be completely unavailable or unreliable. If nothing else, use ride sharing services like Uber, Lyft, Via to get around. You’ll get to meet the locals, conserve fuel, and it’s an affordable part of being an eco-friendly traveler.
- Try local and regional specialty dishes & eat seasonally
By eating like the locals, and enjoying what’s in season wherever we are in the world, we not only connect on a deeper level with the places we are visiting, but we also help support local farmers and their families, and help communities stop relying on food shipped half way around the world. Not to mention local specialties are often very unique and difficult if not to find elsewhere.
Not only will they be unique and you’ll be trying something new, but eating local supports local growers and helps the environment by decreasing the demand for imported foods.
- Don’t litter
Just because you don’t live there doesn’t mean you should be disrespectful. Some countries may even punish littering with jail time, like Singapore. If nothing else, littering is extremely disrespectful to the locals who have to clean up. Be a respectful visitor, eco-friendly traveler, and hold onto your trash until you find the appropriate receptacle.
- Pack reusable net bags for shopping
My husband and I have been using the six reusable net bags for our groceries, souvenirs, and takeout pick up instead of plastic bags for nearly two years, and my only regret is that we didn’t buy them sooner. I can’t even begin to tell you how many plastic bags we have prevented from being wasted with these. They hold tons of food, and we’ve fit more than 40 pounds worth of cans in a bag with no signs of strain – they’re amazing and last a lifetime, plus they are easy to wash should they get dirty.
We ordered two sets of these bags, and they’re just fantastic. They also come with shorter handles if you prefer, and they’re available in other colors like blue and orange, as well as black, pink, and green.
- Use a collapsible, reusable water bottle
If number one just isn’t your speed, bring along this collapsible silicone water bottle (which can be recycled someday), and ask restaurants serving purified water to refill it for you. It also comes in peach pink and sky blue. This is one of the best things you can do to be an eco-friendly traveler.
- Support local artisans and small businesses
Whether you’re traveling internationally or domestically, it’s always so important to support local artists and small businesses. When we shop with small businesses, we are directly helping those people put food on their tables and cutting out the middlemen that take large cuts at big box stores. It’s often more expensive to shop locally, yes, because it’s on person absorbing all of the costs associated with owning, marketing, operating, and they have to pass a bit of that off to their customers, but they also keep much more of the profits, which makes all thee difference in a community.
Shop eco-friendly traveler supplies below:
Until next time!
Baden-Baden, Germany | Bay Harbor | Beverly Hills | Carmel, IN | Chicago | Colmar, France | Disneyland| Grand Rapids, MI | Greenland | Heidelberg, Germany | Mackinac Island | Mexico City | Nara| New Orleans | New York City | Niagara Falls | Nikko, Japan| Querétaro | Rome | Toronto | Traverse City, MI | Tucson | Tulum| Vatican City | Venice | West Hollywood|
Luxury Hotels of the World
Amway Grand Plaza: Grand Rapids | Casa de la Marquesa: Querétaro | Der Kleine Prinz: Baden-Baden| Grand Hotel: Mackinac Island | Hotel Monteleon: New Orleans | Hotel Walloon: Walloon Lake | Inn at Bay Harbor: Bay Harbor | Irvine Spectrum: Irvine| Radisson Blu Aqua: Chicago | SchlossHotel HugenPoet: Essen | Titanic Chaussee: Berlin | Townsend Hotel: Birmingham | Weber’s Boutique Hotel: Ann Arbor | Zamna: Tulum |
Luxury Restaurants of the World
Barrel Back: Walloon Lake | Boca: Cincinnati | The Cliff: Laguna Beach | The Garden Table: Indianapolis| Gracias Madre: West Hollywood | Hinoki & the Bird: LA | Jockey Club: Mackinac Island | Kin Toh Treehouse in the Jungle: Tulum | Kitchen Table: Tulum | Ladurée Paris | Matcha Mama: Tulum | Moon Juice: West Hollywood | Prost Wine Bar & Charcuterie | Ralph Lauren Café in Tokyo | The Real Coconut: Tulum| Rosa Negra: Tulum | Sushi Grand: Mackinac Island | Syoka: Nara, Japan | Tinker Street: Indianapolis | Vintage Chophouse & Winebar: Bay Harbor | What to eat Grand Hotel Mackinac Island | Woods: Mackinac Island | 10 Best Places to Grab a Drink on Mackinac Island| 10 Most Romantic Cities in the World | 15 Best Places to Eat in Grand Rapids | 20 Best Places to Eat in Tulum | 50 Best Places to Eat in Michigan |