Zero waste is a popular life philosophy which encourages less consumption and the purchase of products that can be recycled or biodegradable, instead of sending waste to landfills, incinerators and our oceans. Its basic guideline relies on adhering to the 5 R's – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot. But how can this philosophy be translated to travelling?
Although the travel industry is still one of the biggest polluters on our planet, there are still ways we can help to mitigate our impact. Here is our guide to help you minimize waste and reduce consumption while travelling.
1. Planning & booking
Do your research.
- Research the place you are visiting, choose destinations and book accommodations that are committed to reducing waste.
- Look for local farmers’ markets, delis, so you can cook your own food to support the locals and eliminate waste from restaurants or delivery services. In supermarkets look for local homemade groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and local specialties.
- When exploring tours and activities, seek out local companies that are committed to minimising their impact.
- If you are flying, choose an airline that has taken steps to reduce the volume of waste that goes to landfill. You may also consider paying extra for a carbon offset, however, do your research well as carbon offsetting can be a controversial issue.
2. Packing for your trip
Make a zero waste kit.
- Bring reusable alternatives to bottles, coffee cups, shopping bags, straws, napkins. Keep them in your hand-luggage to avoid single-use plastics.
- You can find zero waste alternative to most disposable items as well, such as razors, tampons, and toothbrushes. You can also use solid soap and shampoo bars to avoid using plastics whenever possible.
Go paperless when possible.
- Download your boarding passes, documents and maps on your phone on tablet to save on paper.
- Use an e-reader or listening device instead of buying magazines and books at the airport.
- Pack your own snacks when travelling by plane or train. You can also let the airline know that you’ll be bringing your own food, so they don’t have to cater you, and throw away uneaten food.
- The best way to explore any destination is to walk, cycle or use e-scooters and public transport, as it also helps you reduce your carbon footprint.
- Shop at local farmers markets or stores that provide local groceries. Eat food that is grown and processed locally.
- Be selective about souvenirs; avoid purchasing goods created out of parts take out of endangered animals.
GO THE EXTRA MILE
If you choose to go the extra mile, look for volunteering opportunities that will meet the needs of the local community (for example, taking a beach clean up).
Travelling offers invaluable life experiences, broaden our horizons and fill our lives with amazing stories to tell. However, it can also be a big factor in pollution. Following the above tips will make your trip more beautiful for you, the environment and the local community you plan to visit.