By Katie Foote, Epicure & Culture Contributor
If you’ve been considering zero waste travel, or even if you haven’t, these statistics will move you toward a cleaner lifestyle.
Did you know that since 1960, the USA has tripled the amount of waste it generates, to approximately 250-400 million tons of garbage a year?
In fact, a study done by SaveOnEnergy reveals that every day, Americans throws away enough trash to fill 63,000 garbage trucks — almost a third of which is packaging.
Moreover, each year, Americans toss out enough disposable utensils and cups to circle the equator 300 times.
THREE. HUNDRED. TIMES!
Travel can actually lead to an increase in generating waste, as the tendency to grab a coffee on the go, buy take-out or use plastic cups and napkins on airplanes increases.
Additionaly, many people visiting developing countries rely on purchased water, leading to significant plastic waste. Travelers can easily produce dozens of single-use, convenience trash items per day.
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But, there is good news:
You can reduce your contributions to global landfill with a conscious effort and the right supplies.
Several innovative, eco-minded companies help ease the transition by offering reusable containers, products with compostable or reusable packaging—or no packaging at all.
If you’re a traveler interested in eliminating single-use plastics or minimizing unnecessary waste, here are some great products to ease the transistion into a waste-free lifestyle.
1) Have Waste Free Travel Picnics
If you want to dive into zero waste travel, The Explorer Backpack ($265) by Zoetica Zero Waste Systems should be added to your waste free shopping list.
The pack has everything you need to get started on your journey to say no to convenience trash.
It includes a double walled coffee/beverage cup, double walled bottle/thermos, folded shopping tote, nested tiffin/to-go container set, produce bag, metal straw, stainless cutlery (spoon and fork) and an organic cotton napkin.
Your next picnic just got an eco upgrade!
2) Give Your Fashion An Eco-Twist
Zero Waste Daniel has a zero waste pouch ($50) filled with Daniel Silverstein’s essential recommendations for busy people living a zero waste lifestyle.
The zipper pouch contains versatile fundamentals including a handkerchief, tote, fork and jar in stylish pouch.
These pouches are sourced from USA fabric scraps and are completely unique; based on what’s available.
This leads to big impact, as your zero waste shopping purchase reduces textile pollution and supports local artisans and sustainable fashion crafters in the United States.
Actually, Silverstein is on a mission to expand the zero waste movement — particularly in the fashion industry. He even mentors aspiring designers, teaching zero waste design workshops and lectures at The Fashion Industry of Technology.
3) Primp With Conscious
The world has a huge problem with plastic bottles, globally purchasing one million plastic bottles per minute.
Which is scary, since 91% of all plastic is not recycled.
One type of bottle most of us purchase on a regular basis is shampoo — which is why Yellow Bird crafted a shampoo bar ($10) offering an Earth conscious solution.
The base is perfect for campers, backpackers and really anyone who enjoys the minimalist lifestyle.
Since these handmade, chemical-free shampoo bars are solid, they can be easily transported in carry-on luggage through airports.
Now, scent is powerful. Switching time zones and early wake up calls can lead you feeling zapped, though their peppermint bar can help put some pep in your step (get it?).
Additionally, they offer a grapefruit, rosemary and lavender scent, an incredible combination of calm and focus.
The boxes are 100% biodegradable and compostable. You can either carry the bar in the box once it is dried out or in your own reusable container.
4) Sip Wine Without Wasting
Raise your hand if you hate broken glass, sweaty bottles and lukewarm leftover wine?
The Wine Bottle ($44.95) holds an entire bottle of wine and uses TempShield insulation to keep reds at room temperature and whites, rosés and sangrias perfectly chilled for 24 hours.
On the hand, their insulated Wine Tumbler ($29.95) complements the wine bottle perfectly. Each tumbler holds two standard pours in a stylish container for sipping, with an insulated press-in lid and a no-drip lip.
The pro-grade stainless steel containers won’t break, sweat, heat up in your hand or retain flavors.
As for the sustainable side of things, these eco-friendly products are 100% recyclable as well as BPA and Phthalate-free.
Each purchase contributes to their charitable grant program Parks For All, supporting the development, maintenance and accessibility of American public green spaces.
5) Save Money — And Waste — With Paper Towel Alternatives
One thing you’ll need to give up to be a zero waste traveler:
Which is where Soak it Up Cloths ($6) comes in.
Made from 100% natural, reusable and biodegradable sponge cloth, they serve as the perfect replacement — especially as one cloth can save you at least 15 paper towels.
These towels clean up faces, hands and unwanted spills, and dry fast so bacteria does not have time to grow. Plus, they can be quickly disinfected in the microwave, dishwasher or in boiling water.
For homemade, chemical-free wet wipes on the go, you can wet the towels and add your favorite lotion, oils or vinegar then put in a reusable bag.
You can also cut used cloths into strips, and add vinegar and essential oil to transform them into lint-free dryer sheets.
6) So No To The Straw (And Save Wildlife)
According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, 500 million straws are thrown out every single day in the United States.
Not only do straws clog landfills, but they can be dangerous for wildlife.
Due to their small size, wildlife can mistake straws as food, and the stable shape means it can be incredibly dangerous to their digestion. You might have seen videos of sea turtles with straws up their nose or penguins with a straw puncturing their stomach.
Resorts are also starting to take notice about the danger of plastic straws.
Even if you don’t use straws enough to buy your own kit, you can support organizations who no longer offer to use plastic straws.
For example, in 2017 the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort used more than 800,000 straws while serving more than 1 million guests. Last month, they became the first resort on Hawaii Island to no longer offer plastic straws and they only offer FDA-approved, GMO and BPA-free, compostable paper straws across the 1,241-room resort.
Other resorts and restaurants are starting to offer paper straws as a plastic-free option.
Even if you do stay at a property that still offers plastic straws, remember that you always have the option to #SayNoToTheStraw.
7) Help Save The Rainforest With Minimalist Toiletries
NaturaBrasil has created a travel size set of eco-concious hair products with social benefits.
Their set of Pataua Restorative hair products comes in a raffia clutch hand-made and dyed by a multi-generational group of women on the Northeastern coast of Brazil.
Not only are you helping these women support their families, but you can reuse the clutch as a cute summer purse.
Are you a carry on only traveler?
Most of their newest line of Chronos Skincare is below the 3.4 ounce, 100 milliliter TSA limit so it can be carried on planes.
The containers are accompanied by eco-conscious skin treatment refills, encouraging customers to reduce beauty waste by buying the initial jar and only using refill pods moving forward.
All of Natura’s packaging is made of 100% post-consumer recycled materials or green plastic sourced from sugarcane ethanol. Their NaturaBrasil products are cruelty-free, and no biodiversity — as in, plants, animals, or humans — are harmed or displaced in the process of making these minimalist toiletries.
Here’s a moving stat for zero waste travel enthusiasts:
Through their donations, NaturaBrasil has saved nearly 635,000 acres of Amazon rainforest and counting.
8) Snag Functional Fashion That Also Reduces Waste
Sea Bags turns used sail cloth into a variety of bags — like totes, handbags, wine bags and bucket bags — saving over 600 tons of material from the landfill thus far.
Zero waste travelers will love their special travel collection, featuring trendy unisex designs with simple patterns.
To celebrate Earth Day, the company donated 20% of their Sea Bags and Chart Metalworks Sea Turtle product sales from April 20-30th to the Sea Turtle Conservancy.
The Aquamarine Sea Turtle Tote shown here was designed to commemorate the amazing journey of baby sea turtles migrating from their nest and towards the sea.
Even though they cover a short distance, it’s the start of a new, challenging aquatic life.
This original print was designed as a reminder to stay strong and work towards your goals, against all odds.
Sea Bags’ sister company, Chart Metalworks, will also be a part of this campaign by offering a Rope Bracelet with a Sea Turtle Charm that pairs perfectly with the tote.
Additionally, travelers will love their Rose Compass “You Keep Me On Course” Necklace.
What steps have you taken to get closer to a zero waste travel lifestyle? Please share in the comments below!
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