From eliminating single-use plastic and lightening your carbon footprint, to reducing unnecessary waste, read on to find eight essential eco-friendly travel products to help you become a sustainable traveler.
Few terms and phrases have dominated headlines like the term “single-use.” In fact, Collins Dictionary even named “single-use” the 2018 Word of the Year. Described as a product designed for one use, single-use products have pervaded our day-to-day lives.
However, for me personally, it was while traveling when I really noticed the problem of single-use plastic. I started to take note: the takeout coffee at the airport, the plastic cups and straws on the plane, the little bags of snacks, and the hotel plastic water bottles. This may not seem like much, but when you consider that more than a billion people travel annually (in pre-Covid-19 times), single-use waste adds up.
Some travel companies and destinations are stepping up, such as United, American and Alaska Airlines, who have ditched plastic straws. However, there’s a lot more that we can personally do for the environment, like using eco-friendly products while traveling that limit waste and single-use plastics. Below, I highlight a few of the best eco-friendly travel products to travel with in becoming a sustainable traveler.
1. Insulated Water Bottle & Coffee Mug
A reusable water bottle, and/or coffee mug, is one of the easiest and most practical ways to reduce waste and single-use consumption. Plus, it’s a cheap investment. Some reusable coffee mugs and water bottles are as little as $10, while you can spend more money on a higher quality, vacuum-insulated vessel that will lengthen how long liquids stay warm or cold. What’s more, many coffee shops will even give you a discount if you bring in your own cup. With how many times some of us drink coffee, myself included, a reusable coffee mug will pay for itself in no time.
2. Collapsible Bags
Many of us have at least one reusable tote bag, which we hopefully try to use as much as possible on trips to the grocery store. However, many of them are bulky, and not exactly made for travel. That’s where a compact, collapsible bag comes in, like the ones from Trek Light Gear. While these bags can carry up to 50 pounds, they weigh just 2 ounces, and can shrink into a tiny pouch that you can fit into your pocket, or even attach to your keychain. Opting for a versatile eco-friendly bag like this makes it harder to forget, and easier to pack.
3. Reusable Snack Bags
Snacks are simply a standard part of the travel experience, naturally. I love snacks as much as the next person, and maybe more. However, between multiple flights and in-room mini bars, those small plastic wrappers add up. But that’s where reusable snack bags provide an alternative to single-use plastic bags. Plus, even if you’re not packing your own snacks, you can take a couple bags with you for those times you may be at a grocery store or farmers’ market and don’t want to have to use disposable plastic bags. Grocery stores, like Sprouts and Whole Foods, are increasingly adding bins of nuts, dried fruit and other snacks that you can scoop out and into your own bag.
4. Metal or Bamboo Straws
I’ll be honest, the first time I pulled a metal straw out of my backpack felt a little awkward. Now, however, it’s second nature, especially as businesses, and destinations, worldwide have cracked down on plastic straws. Plus, eco-friendly straws themselves have become more practical. This includes products like Final Straw, which is a collapsible straw that’s small enough to fit on a keychain. Others are made from bamboo, and even hay, offering proactive and practical single-use solutions.
5. Silverware Kit
Inevitably, there are times on the plane or while picking up food, when we reach for plastic cutlery, or it’s automatically given to us. This addresses my original point, that while it may not seem like you use much single-use plastic on one trip, it adds up when you consider how many people travel. While I originally bought a reusable silverware kit for camping adventures, I now find myself taking it with me everywhere I go, even when I’m at home. If you’re as much of a foodie as me, I recommend getting a travel cutlery kit like the one from Guestway, which includes a pair of chopsticks.
6. Toothpaste Tablets
Developed by a friend of mine, Bite’s all-natural, plastic-free toothpaste has changed how you think about toothpaste. That’s because it’s not actually toothpaste, but rather a tiny “bite” the size of a tablet, which you bite down on and that foams up as you start brushing. Bite comes in small travel-sized glass bottles, which if you subscribe, they’ll send regular refills for in compostable pouches. You can order their mint or activated charcoal flavors directly.
7. Solar Charger
A solar charger, though more expensive than your standard charger, solves multiple problems. First and foremost, it’s better for the planet, pulling energy from the sun to charge your devices. Plus, it solves the problem of trying to find available outlets at the airport, restaurants, etc. Many of these solar chargers you can attach to your backpack or bag to charge while outdoors, while others can cling to a window, like a train or airplane window, so you can charge it while traveling. Additionally, many of them can charge multiple devices at once, while more rugged, outdoor models are often waterproof, and include features like a flashlight.
8. Packable Daypack
Any adventure-bound trip requires you to leave your luggage at the hotel (hopefully a Kind Hotel that empowers you to positively impact the local community) and a lightweight daypack to set you free and explore the world. This Eagle Creek Packable Daypack titled Smog of the Sea from the 5 Gyres Collection provides lockable compartments, breathable mesh shoulder straps, a water bottle pocket, a lifetime warranty — and most importantly, supports fighting plastic pollution.
Made out of 100% recycled 300D poly micro-weave, the Smog of the Sea print is inspired by the billions of microplastics that currently circulate in our ocean. Plastic does not degrade; it just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, hence these specs of color decorating the collection. 5 Gyres is bringing awareness and looking for solutions to the ongoing microplastic crisis. This print is designed to not only be a reminder of what your plastic bottles, cups or straws could one day be, but to inspire us all to eliminate single-use plastic.
Through 6/20/21, 10 percent of the net proceeds of qualifying purchases will be donated to the 5 Gyres Institute, dedicated to empowering action against the global health crisis of plastic pollution through science, education, and adventure.
Written by Ellie Huizenga for Kind Traveler and Terranea Resort.
ABOUT: Terranea Resort is a proud Kind Traveler ‘Kind Hotel.’
A 2020 Travel + Leisure Global Vision Award winner, Kind Traveler is the world’s first socially conscious Give + Get hotel booking and media platform that empowers travelers to positively impact the communities they visit.
Give + Get with Terranea Resort: Travelers give a $10 nightly donation to locally vetted Marine Mammal Care Center LA (MMCLA), or a favorite charity of choice on Kind Traveler, and in return, receive exclusive rates and perks to book directly with Terranea Resort. 100% of donations go to charity. A $10 donation to MMCLA will provide one marine mammal patient food for one day. Travelers will learn additional ways to get involved with MMCLA in the ‘Do Good For The Day’ section of the charity profile on Kind Traveler.