If you’re always on the go (like I am), you quickly start to realize how much consumption is involved in traveling. You can easily start piling up all of the plastic that you waste from buying single-use items. Even if you stay at home all day, there are some changes that can be made in your lifestyle to minimize your environmental impact. With the major environmental issues our planet is facing today, there is no better time than now to start making a switch to products that are better for the environment and that could save you a few extra dollars, too.
BUT… it is important to remember that consumption is still consumption. Even if you’re consuming eco-friendly products, lowering the amount that you consume overall will make the greatest impact. That’s why I believe people should only be buying the things they really need.
1. Reef-Safe Sunscreen
If you love going to the beach, switching to reef-safe sunscreen is one of the best choices you can make. Most of the sunscreens being sold on the market today contain chemicals that are greatly damaging the coral reefs. Oxybenzone and octinoxate have recently been uncovered to be responsible in making coral reefs more susceptible to bleaching. By making a simple switch to reef-safe mineral sunscreen, you can help prevent further damage to these delicate ecosystems. I’ve linked my favorite reef-friendly mineral sunscreen below. I love this brand because its products are plant-based, cruelty-free, and made up of 70% organic ingredients.
2. Biodegradable Shampoo and Conditioner
Along the same note, our everyday shampoos and conditioners contain chemicals that are not biodegradable. This means that those chemicals are not broken down easily and are able to stay in our ecosystems for greater periods of time. These shampoo products sometimes have dozens of chemicals in the ingredients list that we are washing down the drain without wondering what they could be doing to our environment. While water treatment plants do a great job at removing the majority of contaminants from water, they do not remove all of chemicals contained inside our household products, which then get released into our natural areas and become a threat to wildlife. Using biodegradable products ensures that those chemicals spend as little time as possible in the environment. It’s still not a perfect solution, but it’s the better alternative.
3. Reusable Travel Bottles
The perfect partner for your biodegradable shampoo is a small, reusable bottle that you can bring inside a carry-on bag. I love these little bottles because you can refill them once they run out and keep traveling with them for as long as they last. They don’t have to be only for shampoo, either. You can also fill them up with conditioner, face wash, sunscreen, or lotion. This helps eliminate the need to buy single-use, travel-sized products and instead fill the bottles with the full-size products you already have at home.
4. Reusable Tote Bag
Reusable bags are so important when you’re traveling. They don’t even have to be huge reusable grocery bags that you’re carrying with you. I like to carry a big stylish bag that takes up very little space in my suitcase, but is really helpful when you’re out shopping since you don’t have to use unnecessary plastic bags.
5. Travel Journal made from Recycled Materials
I’ve recently discovered the importance of journaling my travels. I believe reflection is essential for mental and spiritual growth. However, I don’t like the idea of cutting down trees just so I can write down my thoughts. Thankfully, we now have many companies that are fighting the standard production of notebooks and are making them from recycled materials. The most impressive notebook I have found on the market is one from A Good Company that has its paper made from recycled stone and is printed with soy ink. It also claims to be the first climate-positive notebook in the world.
6. Bamboo Utensils
We use a lot of plastic cutlery when we’re on the road (and at home, as well). I think it’s really sad to see how a lot of people buy huge boxes of plastic cutlery for their family parties and everyone immediately throws them in the trash right after their meal. That’s a huge influx of plastic into our dumpsites that doesn’t need to happen. I think everyone should switch to using biodegradable wooden utensils that you can put in a compost bin after you’re done with them. I prefer to use biodegradable bamboo utensils though because they resist bacterial growth and water damage so you can use them for a longer period of time before they need to be disposed. I always bring my bamboo utensils with me when I’m traveling so I don’t have to use plastic cutlery when I’m eating out.
7. Reusable Straw
I know some of you are going to roll your eyes at this one. I get it. Switching to a reusable straw isn’t going to save the world, but it’s a really small step you can take to keep plastic out of our oceans. If you do buy a reusable straw, it is important to always carry it with you since you never know when you’re going to need it. And if you’re someone who never uses straws, more power to you.
8. Natural Bug Spray (w/o DEET)
Sometimes you want to travel to a gorgeous tropical location but you don’t want to deal with the bugs that come with it. I completely understand (been there, done that). However, many of the typical bug sprays sold in stores carry N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, otherwise known as DEET. This chemical is known to be toxic to many aquatic lifeforms. What’s even worse is that it doesn’t always work with every single type of bug. I’ve experienced this firsthand. This is why I highly suggest that people switch to a natural alternative that also repels bugs but without the environmental damage.
9. Reusable Makeup Remover Pads
Makeup users can make a small step in lowering their consumption by switching away from single-use cotton products and opting for reusable pads. With reusable pads, you can use them like cotton rounds or balls but without the waste. They can be used for makeup remover, toner, and other liquid facial products. After you use them, they can be either hand-washed or put in a washing machine to clean them up. Most brands sell their reusable pads with a small laundry bag, so you can keep your pads together when they go in the wash.
10. Reusable Water Bottle with Water Purifier
I believe everyone should own a reusable water bottle. No matter what, humans are going to need to drink water to survive. We can greatly reduce the number of plastic bottles we consume by switching to a reusable water bottle. A lot of bottles also come with water purifiers. These purifiers are essential if you’re unsure about the quality of the water you’re putting in your bottle. A lot of countries don’t have potable water, so bringing a water purifier can make a huge difference and save you a lot of money. If your bottle doesn’t have a purifier, you can also buy a handheld one. UV light purifiers are easy to use and are more effective at killing bacteria and viruses.
This is not an extensive list, so I’m sure there are many more sustainable travel products out there. Do you know of any other items to add to this list? Comment down below which other sustainable travel products you think should be on this list. And if you’ve tried out any of these before, let me know what you thought of them!