How To Travel Plastic-Free

While we’ve written about how to have a more eco-friendly vacation, there is a growing travel trend of vacationing plastic-free. For example, backpackers Polythene Pam and Village Boy, who write for the site Plastic is Rubbish, focus on eliminating plastic from their lives completely.

“Plastic lasts forever and we are using it to make one use, throwaway items,” the duo say on their site. “We have created everlasting rubbish and plastic pollution is increasing exponentially. It is destroying the landscape, killing wildlife, poisoning the seas, and may well be poisoning us.”

In fact, there are many animals that die everyday from accidentally ingesting plastic, like camels, turtles, elephants, birds, whales and many more. The problem is that instead of biodegrading, plastic simply degrades without changing its structure. What’s also scary is that sometimes these fragmented pieces of plastic are so tiny, we can’t see them with the naked eye – although they can still be harmful. In humans, plastics have been found to lead to cancers and other health problems over time.When traveling, the backpackers recommend using natural toothbrushes and homemade tooth powder to clean your teeth, as well as making your own natural beauty products for your skin, hair and nails. When buying street food, they use tiffin boxes, which allow you to carry home your cuisine in a plastic-free, reusable box and string bags for carrying groceries and produce from the markets.

For travelers who like to document their trips, there are various alternatives to the usual pen and notebook. For instance, using a laptop can eliminate plastic pens, paper and constant waste completely. If you like keeping a journal the old-fashioned way, there are biodegradable pens, wooden pencils and sustainably sourced, wooden, pencil sharpeners.

Blogger Beth Terry of My Plastic-Free Life also writes about how to go sans plastic on the road. For example, she advises using travel mugs instead of plastic water bottles, especially since they are easier to get through airport security. Reusable utensils, homemade food and snacks in metal tins, stainless-steel drinking straws, using solid shampoo bars and putting personal care products like toothpaste in reusable containers are other recommendations. For tea drinkers, packing bulk tea in a tea ball or using eco-friendly Twinings teas are safe alternatives to the usual plastic-heavy tea packaging.

Taina Uitto, a Canadian blogging about living a plastic-free life at Plastic Manners, also shares tips on traveling without plastic. She makes a good point on her website, asking the rhetorical question, “Why is it that the second people leave their home, they become completely helpless and immediately cling to the crutch of convenience?”

If you’re going to be doing laundry on the road, Uitto suggests using soap nuts by dropping a few in a sock and putting them in with your dirty clothes. For personal care, using products like natural hairbrushes, a bulk deodorant bar and metal razors is a great way to reduce plastic use. And for booze nights, try to find beers with corks or reusable beer bottles and wines that don’t use plastics.

I also did some research myself on plastic-free backpacks and found organic hemp backpacks from Rawganique. The packs are sweatshop free from Europe, and feature metal zippers, hooks and snaps, hemp lining and hemp trims.

Does this all seem like a lot of work? It’s not easy making a quick switch from living a plastic-immersed life to completely erasing it from your day; however, you can try to make small changes to the way you travel. Little by little, everyone can make a difference, and travel in a more eco-friendly manner.

Do you have any personal tips for traveling plastic-free?

[flickr photo via nist6ss]