Ways to Reduce your waste while Traveling

Happy new year y’all!

I hope that 2019 is off to a great start and you’re working hard on your new year’s resolutions. As you probably know, my major goal in 2019 is to reduce my consumption and be more minimalist in what I purchase. All of this fits into my goal of having a zero waste lifestyle in the new year.

Since I’m fortunate enough to travel so often, I thought that reducing my waste while away from home would be immediately helpful to the environment. So, I asked some bloggers to send me some of their favorite tips for reducing waste while traveling. 

Trust me, these tips will be so helpful for you when you’re preparing for your next trip!

Reduce your Paper Waste

Contribution from Jing 

Help reduce paper waste that eventually ends up in landfills by saving electronic copies of your travel documents in your phone instead of printing them. Nowadays, showing an electronic copy of your plane tickets, hotel bookings, boarding pass and tour vouchers is an acceptable method of showing proof of booking and eligibility.

Aside from reducing paper wastes for disposal, this practice will also save paper and printing ink usage. It is still advised, however, to carefully check verification procedures that apply to your travel documents. For example, e-visas often include instructions to have the document printed and shown at the immigration upon arrival at your country of destination.

Likewise, you can avoid generating paper wastes by taking only maps and brochures that you need. If you are traveling with your family or friends, consider sharing one map and brochure instead of each one taking one of these free items. An alternative to using printed maps is to download offline maps on your portable device and use this to navigate your way. I find Maps.Me to be a useful app. It allows one to navigate and view the maps even when offline.

Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Contribution from Jing 

Many of our activities while traveling cause emissions of greenhouse gases directly and indirectly. An example is when we burn gasoline as we use transportation to move from one place to another.

One way of minimizing your carbon footprint is to use public transportation instead of renting your own vehicle. One bus or train can move more people in one go. This translates to fewer individual cars on the road, less air pollution, less greenhouse gas emissions, and less fuel consumption. For shorter distances, why not rent a bike or explore the place on foot to make your travel
carbon emissions-free? Biking and walking are also great ways to keep fit, less expensive than other forms of travel and will give you a better appreciation of your surroundings.

My favorite mode of exploration when traveling is walking. Exploring on foot not only reduces your carbon footprint but also enables you to travel off the beaten track. I walked around the historic town of Georgetown, Penang, for instance, and discovered many street art installations that were not commonly found in available street art maps of Georgetown.

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Use Reusable Straws

Contribution from Demi 

Although only small in size, straws have a huge effect on our natural environment. Every year, millions more are needlessly thrown away. As a Dive Instructor, I have seen countless straws floating around the ocean, causing confusion and sometimes death for marine creatures. They can be mistaken for food, or even get stuck in animals eats and eyes.

I admit I like to drink with a straw, but I hate to pollute. To get around the problem I purchased a set of metal straws, which I always carry in my backpack. They come with a cute little bag and a cleaning brush. They are also a great conversation starter, and many people who perhaps don’t know the impact of straws being needlessly thrown aware quickly become converts to metal straws! It’s a small adjustment to make, and they are not heavy to carry, but you will really be making a difference in reducing your plastic waste whilst traveling. 

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Use a Portable Water Filter

Contribution by Audrey

It’s no secret plastic water bottles are bad for the environment. They float easily and travel huge distances along rivers, oceans, and streams. And they’re the most common type of pollution found on beaches around the world. Plastic bottles don’t break down, making things worse as they build up over time and hang around forever.

Tap water in many countries causes upset tummies and it can be difficult to access clean drinking when traveling on the road. For this reason, many travelers turn to bottled water as it’s clean and safe to drink. We’ve done this ourselves and were horrified to see the plastic bottles piling up in the corner of our hotel room.

Instead of clogging up the environment a better alternative is to use a portable water filter instead. They are a quick and convenient way to have clean drinking water wherever you go. And not only will you be doing your bit for the environment you’ll save money on bottled
water too.

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Use Reusable Utensils

Contribution by Ben 

One of the easiest ways to travel sustainably, especially for first-time travelers, is to reduce the amount of plastic you throw away. The best way to do that is to travel with a spork. This nifty innovation combines a fork, a spoon and usually a serrated edge to act as a knife.
Not only a compact and versatile travel tool, but it also helps reduce waste as a simple wash and it’s reusable. They are also great for camping and road trips as they take the role of three utensils while being lightweight.
If you’re looking to reduce your waste while on the road, traveling with a spork is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to help you travel sustainably.

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Support Recycling

Contribution from Chris and Ciska

Developed countries make recycling easy. While developing or underdeveloped countries are equally in need of recycling, they generally lack the infrastructure or initiatives to facilitate it.

We travel by private yacht and only dispose of garbage at suitable onshore locations. We started our recycling support by buying a can crusher and keeping the crushed aluminum cans separate from the rest of the garbage.

Once ashore, we try to find a can recycling or collection point. There are a surprising number of these wherever we go! Even in a worst-case scenario, with the cans ending up in a landfill, the volume is meaningfully less. As the image shows, the crushed volume is roughly 16% of the original.

Not everybody can travel with a can crusher in their luggage, but everyone can support the environment by promoting recycling and responsible waste management, wherever they go. At the very least, try to reduce the volume of all garbage you dispose of – step on cans, tear up cereal boxes, flatten milk cartons and so forth. Also, don’t use or accept single use plastic items, such as plastic bags or plastic straws.

By refusing and recycling you will be able to be a responsible traveler.

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Avoid Fast Food

Contribution from Monique 

We all know how tiring travel can be: the flights at all hours, running to catch taxis, switching between hotels. When you finally make it to your destination, it can be tempting to just order some take-out and collapse into bed. But actually fast food can have a really negative impact on the environment.

Think of all the packaging that your take-out comes in, and how quickly that goes straight to the garbage. So, one of our travel goals is to spend less time eating fast food, and more time eating in at restaurants.

Although sometimes this can require more effort in terms of finding a place to eat, and getting ourselves out of the hotel, it really does offer better food and a chance to explore the local culture.

Fast food may seem cheaper, but is it really worth all that waste? Give me a beautiful restaurant any day! Restaurants can also make a difference in the lives of local people, when they source local ingredients and have social responsibility programs, making them an even greener option.

We found a great restaurant in Bali, Fair Warung Bale, that directly raised funds for local hospitals while employing at-risk young people. May your 2019 be waste-free and delicious!

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Bring a Reusable Bag

Contribution by Katherine

I always bring a reusable shopping bag whenever I’m out and traveling. I use it for trips to groceries and convenience stores and also for storing souvenirs and extra items that no longer fit inside my backpack. I find that having a reusable bag is a big step in reducing the use of plastic ones, which take years to degrade, especially in Southeast Asia where cashiers tend to hands the customer a plastic bag for everything – even small snacks or other items that can easily fit in your pocket or hand. With a reusable bag, I can save several plastics a day.

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Offset your Carbon Footprint 

Contributed by Me 

Reducing your carbon footprint is so important if we want to halt climate change, and taking long international flights abroad isn’t the best for having a low carbon footprint. 

Start by calculating your carbon footprint for your flight, car trip, or bus ride. Simply put in your origin location and your destination into the calculator and it will tell you how many tons of carbon your trip produced. Then, the calculator will suggest to you several different organizations that you can donate to that will take your funds to offset the CO2 used on your trip. 

Think of offsetting your carbon emissions as an seat upgrade on your trip! 

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