It’s hard to believe that we can aim towards zero waste travel as easily as we can reduce our waste at home. In transit as well as in destination, the contexts are different, the reference points change and our resolutions in this matter can quickly shatter in the face of adversity.
However, the question remains an essential part of the planning process for travellers adamant about applying the principles of responsible travel. Here are simple and easily applicable tips you can work your way to being ever-so-slightly more respectful of the environment when travelling.
+ ADDITIONAL READING:
Is zero waste travel mission impossible? Pack these eco-friendly travel accessories to find out:
Water bottle and water sterilization tools
The main type of waste generated when traveling is water bottles. As tap water is not always safe to drink, sometimes bottled water is simply and understandably the only option.
However, bring a water bottle with you just in case. In many countries, hotels and public spaces have water fountains available. All you have to do is fill it up!
If you don’t have access to purified water, don’t panic; there are many accessories available on the market that allow you to do it yourself, such as the filtering straw, the sterilization tablets or the UV pen.
Versatile tote bags to manage waste when traveling
Think about taking one or more canvas, tote-type bags in your luggage.
Just like at home, they will allow you to do run errands and stock up on food at the market without using a plastic bag. But not just! They truly are multi-purpose as you can also use them as a handbag, a beach bag, to store hiking boots in your luggage or to put your dirty clothes in.
Solid cosmetics: Save space AND the environment
Think about adding solid cosmetics to your toiletry bag. Not only will you save tons of space in your luggage, you will also eliminate plastic containers from your travel beauty routine.
From soap to deodorant to shampoo, a whole range of items is now available. These products are usually organic, which also avoids the release of chemicals into the environment while preserving your health.
If you are going away for a long time, think about stocking up before you leave as it can be challenging to find this kind of product once on the road.
At destination, there are a few simple things you can do to truly be a zero waste traveler:
Depending on your destination country, waste management infrastructure can be anywhere between very advanced to simply non-existent. Waste that can be easily recycled in your home country may end up being burned at the bottom of a garden or at sea on the other side of the planet.
Systematically refuse unnecessary bags and packaging
The use of plastic bags, which is beginning to be regulated or even banned in some European countries such as France, is still widespread throughout the world. Whenever you’re shopping, be quick to mention that you will not require a plastic bag for your purchases. With the language barrier, you will often have to insist, but you will see that it pays off in terms of waste.
Refreshment breaks are not just encouraged, but sometimes downright necessary, especially in hotter climates. To avoid consuming plastic bottles, either use your own bottle or choose places that serve drinks in glass bottles, which are returnable and recyclable. If your favorite soda is only available in plastic bottles or cans, give it a miss and swap it for a fresh local juice.
Also remember to mention that you won’t be needing a straw.
Eat locally and responsibly
Another sector that generates a lot of waste is food.
For example, if you’re into street food, try to stick to restaurants that use little packaging or better yet, compostable and recyclable packaging. You can also carry reusable lunch boxes: don’t hesitate to ask vendors to serve your meal directly in it. Sure, they might give you an odd look (especially in countries where plastic is still king), but hey, what’s one weird look if you’re saving the planet?
Moreover, eating in local restaurants eliminates unnecessary packaging and, as a bonus, you get to meet nice people. Don’t miss out on that opportunity! However, beware of fast food restaurants that use a lot of plastic and cardboard, even if you eat in.
If you booked accommodation with cooking facilities, head to the farmer’s market rather than the supermarket to stock up on food. It will be much easier to bulk buy produce,; you’ll save tons of money and you’ll taste fantastic new local flavors!
+ ADDITIONAL READING:
Travel documentation 2.0
Sure, we like to be informed when we travel. And sometimes, before we know it, our bags are filled with a nice collection of brochures and leaflets. How did this happen, exactly?!
Opt for digital travel guides whenever you can. If you come across useful brochures, take a picture of it with your smartphone.
Choose eco-responsible or sustainable accommodations
Transat has set up a series of agreements with various hotels certified by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. Click here to discover our certified eco-responsible hotel partners at our Sun destinations.
Choose eco-responsible hotels that favor recycling and have eliminated single-use materials, for example.
If you’re booking in advance online, keep an eye out for the hotel’s eco-responsible policy and favor those that make a real effort. If you’re on the move and are booking your hotel on the spot, even better: you can see for yourself by asking to visit the premises.
Ready to take up the challenge of zero waste travel with Air Transat?