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What is Plastic Free Travel? (Join The Movement)

Are you familiar with the concept of plastic free travel?


Sorry to break it to you, but while you’ve been having the time of your life exploring travel destinations on your bucket list, you’ve most likely been causing a lot of damage to the environment. And out of all the things to blame, plastic is high up on the list.

Plastic is among the most harmful materials to the planet, yet it’s used worldwide, in all kinds of products.

Fact is, we all have a duty to leave a place better than we found it, and your use of plastic is not helping.

Luckily, you can cross over to the good side by joining the growing movement of plastic free travel!

Let’s explore the concept and take the challenge to your next trip to see if you can help make travel better for us all.

What Does Plastic Free Travel Mean?

Plastic free travel is a progressive way to travel (and live) more consciously. Plastic free travelers strive to eliminate all plastic from their daily lives.

traveler in the mountains

It’s a choice that requires a little bit of effort and planning. If done right, you will be able to live sustainably, while protecting our planet from unnecessary pollution.

The underlying concept of living a plastic free life it is to adopt the practice of recycling and upcycling. The more you reuse what you already have, the less waste you leave behind.

Why Should I Go Plastic Free?

Do you actually know how much plastic you use on your travels? From water bottles and wrapped food to microplastics in your cosmetics – if you are not conscious enough about how you treat our planet, you sometimes don’t even realize how harmful your behavior can be.

This issue is not new. Tourism has always been a hot topic in energy conservation, pollution, and other related matters.

Plastic free travel is a way for you to do your part in minimizing the environmental footprint you leave behind. It is part of the growing conscious travel movement.

Read more: What Are The Advantages of Ecotourism? 

Conscious travel is about leaving a destination better than you found it. That basically means that you need to become proactive in caring for the Earth by making lifestyle changes.

travel plastic free

Not using plastic during your travels won’t solve all the world’s problems, but it can surely make an impact as more people get involved.

In short: Going plastic free will make travel better for everyone.

So, if you’re thinking about ways to reduce your environmental footprint, plastic free travel is one of the easiest ways to start. In the beginning, it might seem like it requires a lot of effort, but it’s easier than you think. Plus, the personal and environmental rewards are worth it!

How Can I Travel Plastic Free?

Convinced that plastic free travel is the way to go?

Well, the good news is that it’s something that you can start right away to do your part in preserving the environment. It involves three components:

  • Things that you bring with you
  • Things that you buy
  • Things provided to you

Managing each of these components is essential to accomplish a plastic free travel style.

travel with plastic alternatives

Let’s start with the things that you bring. As you’re packing for your trip, be mindful of the types of plastic you include in your bag. Eliminate all single-use plastic and objects that come in plastic wrapping. That could be plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic wrappers, etc.

Keep in mind, by bringing along plastic, you’re potentially transporting additional pollution to a new destination.

Things that you buy is the next component to consider when you’re traveling. Living a plastic free lifestyle means that you’ll have to be conscious of the things you buy during your trip. Whether you’re on a short trip or traveling long-term, you are most likely going to buy stuff eventually.

When that moment comes, keep an eye out for plastic packaging (e.g. around food and clothing) and avoid purchasing those items. For example, take your own reusable bag when you buy groceries, instead of the plastic bags provided by the store.

As several countries charge for plastic bags now, this also helps save you money!

Plastic Ban Map

Once you start looking out for it, you’ll be surprised at how many things you receive during your travels that contain plastics.

Many accommodations stock the rooms with toiletries, food, drinks, and other amenities before you arrive. If you’re traveling by air, most of the stuff that you’ll receive and consume during the trip come in plastic, such as earphones or eating utensils.

In some instances, like on an airplane, you can’t help it if you receive these items, but you can do your part by not using them. Don’t open up the packaging and use your own instead. That makes one less piece of plastic left to discard.

When you’re checking into your accommodation, request not to get any toiletries or other products that come in plastic. In general, I highly recommend looking out for eco-friendly accommodation. Check EcoBnB for some inspiration!

Eco-Friendly Travel Essentials

You never realize how much plastic you actually use while traveling until you become more conscious about it.

Adopting a plastic free travel lifestyle may be a huge shift and it might also take some time to truly reach the goal, but I promise, it get easier with time. Every little bit helps!

It’s not about eliminating things from your life, but finding alternatives instead. You can still enjoy many of the same things, just now with less plastic left behind.

Here are some of the things to include in your travel bag that helps reduce our plastic consumption:

  • Reusable water bottle
  • Eco-friendly straw
  • Eco-friendly containers
  • Reusable storage/shopping bag
  • Alternative toiletries
  • Bio-degradable bags

One of the biggest sources of plastic use when traveling is in beverages. We use more plastic than we think in this one category alone.

plastic pollution on a beach

Many countries rely on packaged water since the tap water isn’t safe enough to drink. When traveling in these locations, you can easily purchase multiple bottles of water per day, and discarding each of these bottles is extremely harmful.

The alternative is finding water refill stations and using the same bottle each time. And if you are in a region where it is not safe to drink the water from the tap, bring a LifeStraw.

Many toiletries come in plastic packaging – toothpaste, shampoo, lotion, etc. While it’s common to find these items in any store, try to locate a health store that might have toiletries that don’t contain harmful chemicals and use alternative packaging.

plastic free travel cosmetics

Packing a reusable storage or shopping bag is great for all purposes. As mentioned, getting bags from stores is costly to your pockets and the environment. Be sure to pack a reusable bag that you can take on grocery store runs.

Bio-degradable bags are becoming more popular, especially with eco-conscious travelers, as they replace the standard plastic garbage bags. You’ll discard safer materials in a safer bag that decomposes easier in nature.

Eco-Friendly Plastic Alternatives

Plastic is so widely used because it’s a functional product. However, plastic free travel maintains all of the functionality you’ll get from using plastic, but now with more environmentally-safe materials. Here are a few plastic alternatives that you can use while you’re traveling:

  • Steel/aluminum/tin/silicone
  • Edible
  • Bio-degradable
  • Bamboo

Alternative materials make great products to use for traveling. Steel, aluminum, tin, and silicone are perfect for objects such as storage containers, drinking straws, water bottles, etc. These aren’t single-use objects, so you can continuously wash and use them during travels.

travel with plastic alternatives

Edible and bio-degradable materials are becoming more popular, though you still might not find them in many places. There are a lot of edible objects like utensils and bottles. After you use them, simply eat them (that’s what I call a classic win-win situation), and you effectively eliminated the waste left behind!

Bamboo is one of the trendy natural objects that travelers use as an alternative. Bamboo toothbrushes, combs, and eating utensils are all great to use instead of their plastic counterparts. Since bamboo is a natural product, discarding these objects doesn’t harm the environment.

bamboo as plastic alternative

While you’re traveling the world, play your role in preserving the planet for future generations.

Plastic free travel is one of the best ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Again, it might sound like a challenge at first, but like all things, you’ll get accustomed to the stuff you can and can’t use during your travels.

You’ll soon realize that it’s one of the best decisions you’ve ever made!