Now that COVID restrictions are gradually being lifted, many of our conversations have turned to holidays. Some people are desperate to get abroad, others are happier to have a staycation. Whatever your destination, how will you manage to avoid single use plastic when travelling? Here are some suggestions for pulling together a plastic free travel kit.
A starting point for us (in fact it was where we first came up with the idea of Last!) was a trip to Sri Lanka a few years ago. I didn’t have the full kit at that point but was determined to enjoy fresh coconut water guilt free so invested in our first set of metal straws. Honestly, sipping straight from a coconut is just the best and the coconut sellers were impressed too!
That trip brought home the plastic pollution problem to us, as the beautiful beaches were strewn with plastic waste. I have since discovered that there is no national infrastructure for waste management in Sri Lanka. There are many informal recyclers and resellers but plastic is not part of that system.
So since that trip our holiday kit has expanded so that we feel part of the solution rather than the problem. I realise that for many people, disposable plastic seems to go hand in hand with making things easier when you’re ‘on the go’ - like plastic cutlery for meals on the train. But with a bit of forward planning it’s possible to do a few simple swaps that can make a big difference.
Here are my suggested must-have items for your plastic free travel kit:
- Cotton tote bags
- A reusable water bottle
- Bamboo cutlery
- A reusable coffee cup
- Reusable metal straws
- A bamboo toothbrush
- Solid shampoo and soap
Unless your trip is full board, you’re likely to do some sort of shopping when you’re on holiday. Whether it's stocking up on local produce to prepare back at your Airbnb, or unusual keepsakes or local delicacies to bring back home with you. I always pack several tote bags when I go on holiday and make sure I always have one when I’m out and about for that impromptu purchase. They can even be used for dirty laundry!
It is estimated that 1 million single use plastic bottles are consumed per minute worldwide. I seem to drink more water on holiday, even if I’m not heading to warmer climes, where that’s a given! Make sure you have a reusable water bottle with you so you don't end up gasping and reaching for water in single use plastic! Train and plane travel is always a bit stuffy so keeping hydrated is essential but most airports and train stations now have refill stations. You can find your nearest refill station anywhere in the world with the refill app. Our Urban stainless steel bottle is INCREDIBLY lightweight (not to mention stylish!) so is ideal for travel. If you want an insulated version, check out the Clima bottle.
I know it is tempting to just grab the free plastic cutlery when you buy your takeaway, but maybe think twice? If you’re not comfortable eating with your hands like they do in many countries, our bamboo cutlery is lightweight, sturdier and more pleasant to eat with than plastic and is sustainable and biodegradable. And keep them clean and easy to find in your bag with one of our cutlery pouches.
Even if you don’t buy takeaway hot drinks regularly at home, you might find yourself doing this more on holiday. Maybe the hotel’s coffee or herbal tea selection isn't up to scratch or you just want to sample a local espresso. Try not to succumb to the convenience of disposable cups and bring your own reusable coffee cup. Ours is non toxic and is made of glass and silicone from Joco.
Carrying a metal straw is another easy change to make. Even if you’re not supping on fresh coconut water, maybe you’re a smoothie fan or a lover of juice. It takes up hardly any space in your bag and can be carried along with your reusable cutlery. And when you bring out your own straw you can be sure to draw interest and may even make someone else think differently about their own plastic use.
I’ve been using a bamboo toothbrush for many years now so I don’t even have to think about this one when packing my travel bag. These toothbrushes do exactly the same job as plastic ones. The handles are biodegradable and quite honestly they just feel nicer to touch. If you normally use an electric toothbrush, this will be much lighter in your bag and even switching to bamboo for your holiday kit will have a big impact. Remember starting small is OK!
Taking your own soap and solid shampoo bars will save you using the mini plastic bottles usually offered in hotels. In fact, why not be bold and ask for them to be removed from your room. Taking your own bars means no spills in your bag and they are lighter than bottles. You could either cut up a large bar or buy one of our mini travel size soaps.
What have we missed? Anything else in your essential plastic free travel kit?