Everyone is talking about sustainability! The important thing is to live sustainable and not just to talk about it. It’s easier than you think and we can all start small with babysteps. Maybe one cannot change the world and our future but together we sure can!
Since many years we try to avoid single-use plastic. Over these years we’ve found a lot of zero-waste essentials and ways to avoid plastic! We will share our tips divided into the most important categories eating and drinking, shopping and hygiene.
Sustainable Eating and Drinking
Our most important essentials while traveling are as follows:
You will probably not need cuttlery when you go to restaurants but most of the backpackers we have met, us included, prefer street food and local markets. We always at least bring a knife to cut fruits or vegetables. A nice set of cutlery is very handy and sustainable as we never have to use plastic forks or knives.
We’ve searched for a good bottle a long time. All our life we traveled with our reusable ones but haven’t found any as good as the one we use now. The klean canteen bottle totally convinced us because it holds the temperature for hours – and if we say hours, we mean it! Ever been in tropical heat and only had water out of a plastic bottle which has the temperature of a good warm tea? Invest in a reusable, refillable waterbottle, it’s totally worth it! If you’re a coffee lover, they have a solution for you too 😉
If you like to drink Smoothies, Iced Lattes or Cocktails and don’t want to give up the straw, take your own one! Think about to refuse a single-use plastic straw when you order the drink so no straw is used and will just be thrown away. We take our stainless steel straws which are light-weight, use hardly any space and can be used for several years.
This part is the easiest! Get yourself some cloth bags, take them with you all the time and enjoy local markets and shops.
This is something we do already as long as we remember. It’s so easy to just always have one or a few fabric bags with you and to say no to plastic bags. When we buy fruits or vegetables we now also have our special bags but many fruits are protected through their skin and don’t need an extra bag. We’re very happy to notice that more and more countries ban plastic bas and offer fabric or paper ones instead!
Try to avoid to buy pre-packed meat, cheese or fruits and vegetables. In every supermarket you can find everything unpacked too and you can bring your own boxes and bags. The best experience though is to visit the local markets and buy directly from the farmers.
We did not always take care of this but we’re working hard on doing so! It became a habit to look at the label of the clothes we want to buy. We always check the materials and avoid every kind of plastic. For traveling and being outdoor most of the time, light travel clothes made of organic cotton is the most comfortable anyway! Take a look in your area to find a local shop and avoid long shipping routes.
The market of zero-waste products is definitely growing. Most of the products are actually products you may still know from your childhood or your parents or grandparents used them. We are really happy to see that more and more shops and people realize that simple, reusable, washable and sustainable products are attractive to use. We love to travel with our minimalistic and waste-free essentials.
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Back to the roots and nature – a bamboo toothbrush is already available in many shops. Bamboo is a fast renewable resource and we like to use it not only because it’s sustainable but it also feels so natural!
Instead of toothpaste which is usually packed in plastic and unfortunately often contains microplaslic, you can use toothbrush tablets. We recommend to buy them in a jar as they cannot get harmed in your backpack when in glass.
Shampoo and Showergel
Searching for plastic free versions of soap and shampoo got us back to the good old times. As simple as it is we use soap! Every supermarket is full of hundreds of different shampooed and shower gels in big plastic containers. We don’t want to carry them them anymore and did the switch. If you don’t want to give up on the liquid products, get refillable containers to minimize your waste.
A year ago when we visited our favorite zero-waste shop we did not only find deodorant-cream to buy but also a recipe to make it ourselves. We bought a full jar and got a little extra metal box which we fill up to travel with. Deodorant-creme works perfectly for us, it smells to coconut, orange or other natural smells and is plastic free. It’s time to give it a try!
A razor made of bamboo is our latest discovery. It works perfectly for men and women and is free from plastic – nothing more to add.
Face wipes and napkins
Face wipes, napkins or tissues is something we need everyday. A long time we used to buy cotton pads, paper tissues or kitchen roll. When we had a serious talk about moving direction plastic free and to live more sustainable we changed all these products into a washable version. This also makes traveling so much easier as we have everything we need and never have to worry about where to buy new supplies. Also we feel so much more comfortable knowing we don’t leave any waste behind.
Instead of carrying a whole bunch of q-tips with you and just throw them away after using them once, get a reusable ear-cleaner. It’s really small, fits in every toiletry bag and works fine!
Some years ago I bought a menstrual cup when I saw it in a shop for the first time. I can honestly say that it was the best purchase ever. Years of spending money on tampons or sanitary napkins and producing tons of weight, I felt bad that I didn’t switch sooner. Also we all know the struggle, either you cannot find the products you’re used to or they are unaffordable. Make your life and traveling easier by getting a menstruation cup and fabric sanitary napkins.
When Liam was born and we first started to use disposable diapers, we were shocked about the amount of diapers we were using and how fast our garbage mountain grew! We then started to informed ourselves about clothdiapers and completely switched. Especially after reading that there are millions of disposable diapers used every day and that they cannot be composted, we had no doubt anymore about using them! Also they are cheaper, we know what touches our child and don’t let him sit in chemicals and they are so cute that diaper changes actually become fun 😉
Traveling with clothdiapers is also really easy! we promise we will write a detailed article about that. So far we just want to encourage you to give it a try. For the light-weight travel version all you need are some muslin cloths, covers and wipes. To wash them and also your clothes we can recommend the scrubba bag.
Leave this world a little better than you found it
Robert Baden Powell