9 Zero Waste Holiday Tips
For my last birthday I was whisked away to Greece (I say whisked but it was really a year of hint dropping that did it). It would be my first holiday abroad where I truly attempted to be as zero waste as possible, always difficult in another country. Santorini was the destination, and even with all it’s natural beauty in abundance it has some serious environmental limitations (for example you can’t drink the water from the tap, so it’s all plastic bottles). Surrounded by all those glorious beaches I put together a few eco savvy tips for going green on your next vacay (or staycay).
These are my top 9 tips to going green on holiday abroad:
- Always travel with one or two calico bags, they fold up to nothing, are great for taking your dirty clothes home in, and are super useful if you ever need to pop to the shops for anything whilst you’re away (read: wine, beer, snacks).
- Take a reusable drink bottle. Even when you can’t drink the tap water you can usually ask the nearest waiter to fill up your bottle (they will most likely have a filter out the back for staff). If that fails then ask for a bucket of ice and you’ll soon have your water once it melts. This will at least limit the amount of plastic waste you need to use, every bit counts (it’s important to remember that). If everyone did just that think of the thousands and millions of bottles that could be saved daily! I just realised that this may not be possible everywhere, for example if you’re in India I wouldn’t recommend the tap water unless you want a bad case of Delhi belly.
- Remember to say no to straws, pesky straws, I hate them (and I had to stop myself from swearing then!). They’re one of the only things that I still get surprised by because I assume that it’s one of those things that you have to ask for to receive when it’s actually quite the opposite- even if you feel silly and you don’t think someone will give you one a gentle reminder that you don’t want one can’t hurt.
- If you want a snack go to a bakery rather than a corner store, most bakeries will still serve their sandwiches, pastries etc. in paper bags rather than plastic packaging- plus the food is always much nicer at local bakeries!
- Take your reusable coffee/ tea cup. Taking your KeepCup abroad should be a no brainer, on your way to the airport or train you can take your coffee with you (especially if it’s an early morning flight!), give it a quick rinse in a sink once you’re in the departures lounge and throw it in your bag, nothing like having a little slice of home and feeling less guilty about your caffeine fix whilst on hols.
- Say no to plastic bags altogether- I know I already said carry a calico bag but just in case you’re out shopping for anything (not just beer, wine, snacks) I wanted to reiterate the importance of saying no to all plastic. With a possible language barrier this can be hard (just FYI in french a plastic bag is called ‘le sac‘ so say ‘no sac si vous plait‘. Remember we do have hands to carry things too, so even if you don’t have your calico bag and you just need to have that gorgeous new top, you can always carry it with you. I often think this when people take a bag to carry their one bottle of milk home from the corner shop.
- Don’t be tempted to use the mini toiletries. Personally I try to only ever use the soap if it’s hard soap and wrapped in paper (then I’m guilty of also bringing it home with me, nothing like the familiar smell of your holiday for a little while longer and why waste it). I also take a huge tub of coconut oil with me on holidays which basically doubles as almost everything you need: makeup remover, tanning oil (if you’re that way inclined), moisturiser, after sun cream, and even toothpaste (although my coconut oil toothpaste recipeis much nicer on the mouth). The teeny bottles in the hotel might look alluring, but they generate so much needless waste around the world on the daily.
- Eat out and eat local! This might seem like a no brainer because you’re on holidays but if you can afford it eat out, try the local delicacies, for example the fresh fish in Greece is delicious and as it’s caught fresh that day there’s no plastic packaging to be disposed of before you eat! If you’re in a beach destination try places on or close to the water, they usually have the freshest catch! And look for the locals, the locals always know where is best.
- Get yourself a fold away knife/ fork/ spoon compact cutlery kit, the kind they have in the army, I got mine on amazon and I love it! I take it in my bag with me most places (and in my bum bag at festivals)- needless single use plastics are the worst, be an eco warrior by making sure you’re well equipped for all your culinary needs abroad.
One final tip: Whether you’re local or abroad if you’re near the ocean don’t forget to follow in the footsteps of our good friend Tim Silverwood and take three for the sea- remove 3 pieces of non biodegradable rubbish from the ocean and dispose of them properly.
Personally I believe that as travellers we have a responsibility to limit our impact on the places we travel to, and to keep them beautiful for generations to come. It shouldn’t just be us (or our generation) that get the chance to see the things we see today, but the sad reality is that unless we all band together to help this green earth, we just might be. So do the right thing, go green on your travels and remember that every little bit helps.
Bon Voyage happy travellers.