In my journey toward a more sustainable lifestyle, I’ve realized that my favorite eco-friendly products are also LIFE-SAVERS when it comes to travel. Here’s a list of the zero-waste products I’ll never travel without. And I know, 10 zero-waste substitutions might seem a bit overwhelming at first, but if someone as lazy as me can stick to it, I’m confident you can too. Try one (or all) of these out on your next trip!
1. Water Bottle
I’ve mentioned in other posts that I always travel with an 18 oz. Hydro Flask. I fill it up at airports and often carry it around during the days. Traveling is extremely dehydrating and it’s easy to forget to drink water. 18 oz. isn’t much, but hauling around anything heavier is far too laborious for me. However, having a reusable water bottle has saved me during long bus rides through the desert and hikes through the jungle. Get a size you’ll want to carry around (the handle helps, too), and drink up!
2. Canvas Bag
I’ve needed a canvas bag on every trip I’ve taken in the past three years. Whether it’s for grocery shopping or packing for a day at the beach or even to carry my dirty laundry to the wash (don’t forget to also wash the bag itself!). I’ve found that even if I don’t use it much on the trip, I somehow always seem to fill it with stuff to take back home on the plane.
3. Cloth Tissues
I cut-up an old t-shirt into squares (about 5×5 in.) and use those scraps as tissues. I always stuff one in my pocket, one in my purse, and one or two in my carry on. If you have a chronically runny nose like me, it’s always good to have a few tissues with you. They’re easy to hand wash or throw in a washing machine- if you’re lucky enough to come across one in your travels- and are one more thing you don’t have to search foreign pharmacies for.
4. Menstrual Cup
This is hands-down my favorite zero waste product of all time. I’ve given menstrual cups as Christmas presents, birthday presents, just-because presents and have been preaching the silicon life for years. Menstrual cups will change your life. Period. (Hehe, get it?)
Don’t believe me? Let me tell you a little story about when Sami and I were in Nicaragua. We went to 14 stores looking for tampons and and after walking around for almost 2 hours late and night, we finally found the one pharmacy that sold big fat cardboard tampons. Finding comfortable and convenient feminine products abroad isn’t always easy. Wouldn’t it be nice to never have to never have to worry about that ever again? Get a menstrual cup.
5. Produce Bag(s)
If you think you’ll going to the market at any time during your travels, I suggest bringing a few produce bags. Mine are made out of organic cotton so they’re both packable and easy to clean. I also always fill one or two up with snacks for the plane because airports rarely have zero waste snacks (unless you want to eat Red Delicious apples and bananas every time- womp, womp). If you think you’ll be buying leafy greens or other larger items, make sure to get the XL sizes, too!
6. Castile Soap
A travel size Dr. Bronners is great for washing your body (and face and hair if you’re up for it) as well as your clothes. I usually only travel with 3 pairs of underwear and 2-4 bralettes/sportsbras so I handwash them with just a few drops of Dr. Bronners at the end of the day. Less to pack and cleaner clothes! I love the peppermint and lavender scents.
If you want to travel with a sponge- I love sea sponges! They’re durable and compostable, but they have to dry out completely between uses which might be tricky if you’re constantly on the go.
7. Fill up your jars!
I always travel with organic coconut oil for moisturizer, makeup remover, to put on cuts, etc. I fill up small repurposed jars for short trips and larger repurposed jars for longer trips. Carrying a glass jar around when I was backpacking through Turkey took some getting used to but it’s worth it and once I figured out how to pack minimally, I realized the jar didn’t take up much space at all.
8. Compostable Toothbrush
I LOVE my compostable bamboo toothbrush. If you can, let it air out after each use so the wood doesn’t get too soggy. And after 3 months, toss it in the compost (or burry it in the dirt if there’s not compost). WARNING: a lot of “compostable toothbrushes” are made with bamboo handles but plastic bristles. Make sure everything- the box, wrapper, handle, and bristles are all compostable before buying like my favorite brand here. I also love using LUSH’s toothpowder year-round. I know the container is made out of plastic but LUSH stores will recycle them for you.
9. No-package Deodorant
Again, LUSH to the zero-waste rescue! I usually bring this fun container (from my 2014 trip to Turkey) to LUSH and they cut a piece of this deodorant to fit. This deodorant has kept me smelling fresh all over the world and in all different climates- and don’t worry, it doesn’t feel weird or get sticky on your hands.
10. (Try To) Refuse Single-Use Plastics
Okay, so this isn’t a product, but it’s by far the my biggest travel challenge. I live in NYC and literally never have to use single-use plastics if I don’t want to. Abroad, things are a little different. Support local businesses, like the one featured above in Belize, that encourage sustainable tourism. Utilize the zero waste products on this list as best you can and refuse as many single-use plastics as possible (straws and plastic bags are the easiest to avoid) but don’t feel guilty if you have to buy something in plastic. You’re supposed to be enjoying your travels! Do what you can to be a sustainable traveler and have fun.
And that’s it! This may seem like a long list of things but introducing one thing at a time to your lifestyle both at home and abroad will make being sustainable a breeze. I promise that once you get into the habit, you’ll never look back. And all of your travel destinations will thank you.