Woman paddling in a canoe by Roberto Nickson

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There is no question that traveling is one of the best parts of life. But with a growing focus on sustainability and reducing waste, travel can sometimes feel like a burden.

Additionally, if you’re trying to be more eco-friendly in your day-to-day life, it can be frustrating to have to revert back to plastic water bottles and disposable coffee cups when you’re traveling.  

But don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to green your next trip without sacrificing all the amazing experiences that make travel so fun in the first place. 

Here are 8 Ways to go green and practice zero waste travel:

3 pieces of toast topped with avocado banana and tomato by Ella Olsson
3 pieces of toast topped with avocado banana and tomato by Ella Olsson

Reduce Waste by Bringing Your Own Food

Meals can be expensive when you travel. Being able to cook at your accommodation allows you to pack a small, lightweight meal to take with you when you go exploring. This is a good way to keep costs down.

Try packing items that are reusable. Items like a mason jar, reusable food containers, a coffee thermos, fabric grocery bags and a water bottle. (Reusable containers for your next trip can be found here.)These will help cut down on the need for plastic takeout containers and cups.

Go to local shops and markets to buy food you can prepare in your room or Airbnb. This is also an easy way to make friends. Then bring any leftovers in a reusable container with you on your outing the next day. This saves money and prevents plastic waste from damaging the environment.

Bicycle against brick wall by Tom Austin
Bicycle against brick wall by Tom Austin

Eat More Plant-Based Foods for Zero Waste Travel

It’s now recognized that animal products have a negative impact on the environment. Whether it be runoff from animal waste into marginalized communities or methane produced from grass-fed or grain-fed ruminant animals. 

We all need to reduce our consumption of animal products to address climate change. If you do go out to eat, look for plant-based options. There are so many tasty plant-based options these days that you may not even miss animal products.

Wanting to protect yourself when you travel? Check out our tips here and here.

Look for Accommodations With a Sustainable Focus. 

Look for lodging that strives to reduce plastic waste and provides plant-based food. Hostels are a great option because they have dorm rooms. These community rooms are usually cheaper plus they help build more community.

Open suitcase with miscellaneous travel items by Anete Lusina
Open suitcase with miscellaneous travel items by Anete Lusina

Pack a Capsule Wardrobe

One of the most important ways you can reduce your environmental footprint is by reducing the number of items you pack for travel. This means taking only what you need and choosing quality pieces that can endure different types of travel conditions.

The old adage applies: take twice the money and half the clothes. Find lots of different travel clothing here and high-quality suitcases here.

Looking to make travel easier. Check out our 10 travel tips the guides won’t tell you.

Limit Air Travel When Possible

There are lots of different ways to travel, some of which may be more environmentally friendly. If you do have to fly, look for an airline that offsets their emissions. If you’re driving, Google now optimizes for eco-friendly routes. However, your specific route may be better traveled by train

Look at your options and utilize government websites that compare modes of transportation. Also, if you have the opportunity to rent an electric vehicle do it. It is usually a far greener option than a traditional rental.

Airplane window wing viewed from the window by Jack Cohen
Airplane window wing viewed from the window by Jack Cohen

Carbon Offset Your Trip

Carbon offsets are a way to mitigate harm to the environment caused by greenhouse gases. Essentially for every carbon offset purchased, a company agrees to reduce its carbon emissions by a set amount.

There are many companies that do this and every little bit helps. There are many organizations that offer carbon offsets, just be sure to read the fine print.

Looking for ways to save money while traveling? Check out our article on how to save money while traveling here.

Go Paperless for Zero Waste Travel

One of the easiest ways to be more eco-friendly in your travels is to avoid printing. With a smartphone and a free Wi-Fi network, you can use apps like Evernote to keep trip notes. You can even create themed travel notebooks that can be printed out when you return home or just kept digitally.

The Internet of things (IoT) is also great for reducing waste in your everyday life. For example, you can add smart devices like the Tile to all your luggage so that if you lose it you can pinpoint its location on a map.

Green and brown shampoo bar soap
Shampoo bar soap

Use Water-Free Toiletries 

Every extra pound that we bring with us in our suitcase takes up fuel to transport it. If you’re trying to reduce the amount of carbon emissions from your suitcase, or if you are just trying to travel lighter, consider a shampoo bar. 

They work the same way as liquid shampoo, they just require a little lathering beforehand. Then follow up with a conditioner bar.

These days, it’s easy to find waterless versions of your favorite toiletries. The company Ethique is highly rated and offers a myriad of waterless toiletries in compostable packaging.

Find more eco-friendly travel tips here.

Author Bio: Sandy Page is a life-long adventurer. In her free time, she reads and consumes copious amounts of hot beverages.

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