One of the biggest problems that tourist destinations have to face is the massive amount of garbage generated by tourists. But you can veer off to a different road and become a part of the solution. How? Use a zero-waste traveling kit with a zero-waste mindset. We’ll show you how.
How to Make a Zero-Waste Traveling Kit
Instill a habit of recycling
The first step is all about the mind. When you are preparing to travel, you must condition yourself to minimize waste to as much as ZERO when you are traveling.
According to updated recycling data, human behavior and consumer consumption are among the biggest factors that affect waste statistics. But because an individual can control his or her own behavior and consumption habits, he or she can definitely reduce his or her own personal waste generation.
When traveling, think of the many ways you can recycle and reuse the stuff you pick up or purchase:
- Use plastic bags that can be recycled into barf bags or waterproof pouches for your gadgets.
- Rinse out used chopsticks and use them to hold your hair.
- Install a recycling app on your phone so you will know what items can be recycled and repurposed.
- Learn what you can do to further boost your recycling efforts.
Prepare Your Zero-Waste Travel Essentials
Now that you’ve got a zero-waste mindset – it’s time to pack!
By preparing your essentials ahead of time, you’re already taking the first step to a lighter environmental footprint. You can place the below items in a small or medium-sized travel pouch or you can keep it handy at an accessible part of your travel pack.
Bring your own water bottle
It’s not a wise idea to drink tap water when you’re visiting a new place, especially if that destination isn’t known for good water quality. For travelers, it’s safer to buy bottled water. However, this causes a garbage problem when travelers discard non-biodegradable plastic bottles.
A better option is to use a reusable water bottle and have it refilled with clean, filtered water.
Bring a day pack
A day pack is a light bag, usually a backpack, that you can comfortably carry around while you travel. While a day pack’s primary purpose is to store toiletries, gadgets, clothes, and other necessities while you explore the area for the day, you can also use it to store the items you buy. Souvenirs, new clothes, knick-knacks, groceries, stow them all in your day pack.
Bring a utensil set
In many tours where meals are included or when you eat in a street-side café, you would most likely be given a single-use pair of utensils. Unfortunately, they belong in the garbage once they are used even a single time.
Reduce the waste from throwing plastic utensils by bringing your own travel utensil set. You can definitely bring your own favorite set at home. However, also check out brands that sell outdoor camping gear. They sell tough and lightweight utensil sets made of high-tech materials such as aircraft aluminum or carbon graphite.
Pack reusable straws
Even if you normally don’t use straws, this is an ideal option if you’re traveling. It’s a safe and hygienic way to drink refreshments that come in cans or bottles. There are eco-friendly straw varieties made of stainless steel, wood, silicone, or bamboo. Many even come in kits, complete with straw brushes, covers, and pouches so you can wash and protect your straws after using.
Bring a reusable bag to store waste
Even if the goal is a zero-waste mindset, sometimes we just can’t help accumulating a few bits and pieces of waste on our hands when traveling. So, bringing a reusable bag where you can keep your waste on-the-go is a good idea until you find a proper recycling bin.
Airports, bus stations, and train stations should all be equipped with bins for the correct disposal of trash. If you’re on the road, a quick stop at the gas station should allow you to properly dispose of any trash you’ve kept in your reusable bag.
Be one step ahead.
And the third and final step, always anticipate possible situations where you might be producing waste. Are you going to explore restaurants or will you mostly order takeout? Are you going to be buying souvenirs? What other activities will you be doing that will potentially cause you to produce waste?
To help you with that, here are some more tips and travel items that you can bring with you apart from the essentials mentioned above:
For takeout, room service, and food deliveries, use a bento box.
The Japanese love carrying a traditional bento box with them when they go out. A modern bento box is a compartmentalized, reusable lunch box that often comes with a container for soup and plastic or stainless steel chopsticks.
If you order takeout, for example, you can have the staff transfer your order to your bento box. This eliminates the need for putting food in plastic or Styrofoam packs, which are just thrown away after a single-use.
For the ladies – bring your own period kit
Traveling is fun, but for ladies, your period may interfere with that excitement. If you’re expecting your period while you’re away from home, we recommend bringing along a menstrual cup rather than single-use tampons or napkins. A high-quality menstrual cup is made of silicone and can be reused. Simply wash the cup in the bathroom then sterilize with hot water.
Ditch the disposable garments
Many travel tips often suggest that you buy disposable underwear and swimwear to avoid extra weight in your luggage. While this may be convenient and lessens your load, we don’t recommend this. As soon as your trip is over, you’ll just throw away the used garments, adding to the garbage issue.
It’s better to plan out what you need to wear each day on your trip while you’re still at home. Then pack accordingly, using the clothes in your existing wardrobe. While there are lightweight, high-tech garments that are made specifically for outdoor adventures, they are actually unnecessary for casual traveling. Your normal clothes are light enough that they don’t actually create a significant difference regarding your luggage weight.
Pack rechargeable batteries
Many gadgets that we use and bring during traveling already have built-in batteries. Simply charge your cell phone, tablet, or laptop, and you’re done. However, you may be bringing other gadgets such as your headlamp, flashlight, or camera, which require commercially available disposable batteries.
Try to scour the Internet or your local electronics score for rechargeable batteries that fit your gadgets. In that way, you don’t have to throw away drained batteries; you simply recharge them. Not only will this lessen the garbage problem, but using rechargeable batteries will save you money in the long run.
Bring proper disposal kits for any hazardous waste.
If you’re diabetic or if you have any health conditions that require you to bring along syringes or sharps for medical purposes, do not forget to bring a travel-size sharps disposal kit to store used sharps until you find a hazardous waste bin.
Traveling and exploring new places along the far-flung corners of the globe is fun and exciting. However, travelers also need to exercise a degree of responsibility that shows they respect the place they’re visiting and, of course, Mother Nature as a whole. By bringing reusable items, you can definitely make zero-waste traveling a reality.
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