Tired of leaving a trail of plastic waste behind you? Here are some solutions to reduce your plastic consumption when traveling.

Plastic is the disease of our century without taking into account allergies and cancers obviously. Millions of tons of plastic end up in the oceans creating what we have called the 7th continent.

Great Pacific garbage patch

However this continent is not a destination where you could walk on plastic bottles and visit the remains of baby diapers or mascara packaging. In short, this “continent” is a floating continent, non adaptable to tourism (for those who would be wondering). And it’s especially not suitable for marine life. Plastic, although it lingers around for approximately 1000 years before vanishing completely, breaks down into micro particles which ultimately end up in the stomach of our fish and cetaceans. This is the fish we consume that we’re talking about. You have to know anyways that with the breaking news “From now on to 2050 (so in 34 years), there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish”. This means that our grandchildren will be born into a world where there won’t be any more fishes but tons of floating plastic, jellyfishes and toxic algae. Great…

plastic continent PACIFIC TRASH VORTEX

So when we travel we try to decrease our plastic consumption, but how? As a question that pops up often is the following “How to get water?”. It’s true that in many countries it is advisable to not consume tap water – on the one hand because you don’t want to get sick and on the other because you do not know the amount of chemicals that is contains.

So here are some tips & tricks::

Plastic & Grocery : 

  • We buy most of our fruits and vegetables from markets or small vendors (less packaging)
  • We try to always travel with a foldable backpack to be able to store all of our purchases.
  • We focus on products that are packaged in recyclable plastic or paper (paper is also not a great solution but there are labels which show if the packaging has been produced according to environmental guidelines)plastique nocif pour la vie marine
  • We buy fresh bread when we can! Yes older bread is often wrapped in plastic and it’s less healthy for your body, so go ahead and get yourselves the French baguettes!
  • Bring YOUR OWN Tupperware or other types of small containers for food when you go to the restaurant in order to bring the leftovers home! Actually most restaurants propose the famous doggy-bags but these are often made of plastic or polystyrene. So bringing your own boxes will be much more ecological and you might just get a free digestive from your new restaurant friend!
  • We do not eat chewing gum anymore…I must admit this was rather difficult as I am a fanatic of this plastic chewable bubble…But ok, I must say that since I have become aware that chewing gum is made starting from oil and does not help with having an improved dental hygiene (according to my dentist), I feel less sad. I prefer tablets now.
  • In our couple, I am the one who is in love with sodas. Yes, I know, I promote organic and yet I love my Coca-Cola…the Light version on top of everything, so for sure there’s nothing natural in that…Well I assure you, I’m trying to cure this addiction, but it resurfaces from time to time, and in order to limit the damage I purchase the cans instead of the plastic bottles for the following reasons. First of all, the cans are 100% recyclable whereas plastic bottles are only 70%. Second of all, an aluminum can takes “only” 500 years to decompose whereas plastic takes 1.000 years.

alternatives to plastics

  • We avoid purchasing sandwiches and other take-away food that is often packaged in plastic and we prepare our own snacks ourselves. It’s less expensive and more ecological.

I’m a Barbie girl in a Barbie world, life in plastic it’s fantastic!

You may recall that song from Aqua: “life in plastic, it’s fantastic!” Well, it was for many years the case. So while I do absolutely not feel like Barbie, you still have to wash and there, plastic seems to be king in cosmetics displays. So, here’s how we can limit our consumption of plastic on the move:

  • We only transport our cosmetics in recyclable reusable plastic bottles, glass or stainless steel containers.
  • We take baking soda on our travels. Besides being a great natural teeth and clothes whitener, a medicine for stomach issues and an efficient calc remover, it’s also perfect for washing your hands, for replacing deodorant, for using instead of toothpaste and for cleaning dishes. And the advantage is that you can find this product everywhere, in any country.
  • We make our own shampoos with liquid castile soap in metal packaging. Castile soap is a great economical, ecological and space efficient solution as it can be used for literally everything from hair to laundry.  Or from simple soap if you don’t have choice, which already better than shower gel for your skin. The face and body creams I buy before leaving and I transfer them into travel containers. On the spot, if you run out of them, choose products that are contained in glass or aluminum jars.

toiletries without plastic

  • If you are like me and you shave instead of epilating, buy a razor without plastic!
  • Get rid of your face scrubs!! They contain plastic micro particles! Try sugar or a natural exfoliation solution.
  • Bring your own headphones to avoid using the ones given on the plane !
  • And finally, a VERY important point for any traveler: water! In this case there are no miraculous solutions but you should focus on using less plastic and money.
    • First solution: get yourself a UV straw so that you can drink pretty much any water while being reassured that it’s pure. The LifeStraw products are very good, having a range of straws and bottles for all;
    • Second solution : maximum reuse of your water bottles by filling them up with fountains drinking water ;
    • Third solution : the latest gadget innovation, incredibly ingenious, a bottle that self-refills thanks to the water contained in the air. A project that will most likely see the light of day in 1 year from now.

Here are the pieces of advice in order to travel utilizing the least plastic possible. Moreover, within the majority of countries that we visit there is very little recycling and proper waste management, therefore the less you create the better off the planet and locals will be! If you wish for more advices on how to travel greener, visit our 10 rules to be a Green Traveler here.


Translation & Copy Editing by Liana Marinoiu

Cet article est disponible en Français (French)