9 ways to reduce plastic while travelling

27 Jun 2019 9 ways to reduce plastic while travelling

School holidays are coming up and with winter in Australia people are going to be traveling, looking for warmer climes.

During the Peloton Against Plastic our mission was to travel with the smallest possible plastic footprint. It was a fairly simple task and only when needing a snack at a 7eleven was the challenge not so fun. All that sugar loaded rainbow packaged sugarness and even the sad single banana with their ridiculous plastic raincoats, meant we went hungry a few times.

So how do you avoid single-use plastic while travelling and you are hungry for snacks, unfamiliar with the area, culture and language?

The No 1 problem that travellers face is drinking water in developing countries and for that there are numerous solutions that make it very easy. Read more in our article here

2. Plastic straws are one that you can have a lot of fun avoiding. Bring your own reusable options and just ask. You will likely strike out a number of times but it should get easier as you learn how to ask in the local language.

3. Plastic bags are super easy. From memory with our whole group we didn’t use a single plastic bag. Just bring your own, bag your own stuff at the market and always be nice.

4. Plastic cups can be a bit of a nightmare if you like coffee or fresh fruit juice. Again just bring your own cup and ask to have the juice put straight in there. Better still, sit down and enjoy it in the café / restaurant. A lover of tropical fruit juices I simply walk by the street stalls displaying plastic cups and go for the ones serving in glass. They’ll often do the dishes in a tub on the side of the road and I just love that. We are far too precious at home with our over the top food safety.

Wrapping suitcases in plastic

5. Pet hate and top of the ridiculous inventions of human stupidity is cling wrapping suitcases at the airport. What is the reason for this? I have absolutely no idea and it does my head in. Meters and meters of cling wrap carried to a developing country who can’t deal with their own waste. Keep valuables in your carry on, that is anything that shouldn’t get wet or stolen doesn’t go underneath with the luggage and put a lock on your suitcase if still concerned. The 1 in 1.4 billion chance you have of someone smuggling something into your suitcase just isn’t worth the waste.

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6. Nibbles, lollies, nuts etc is a tough one. You might want to test the local junk food as part of the travel experience and a lot of that is going to come in plastic. The best way to do this is to support little street vendors or markets and purchase your cakes straight from the plastic free side of the road. 

7. Disposable rain poncho's might be needed if you are walking, hiring a bicycle or motorbike – preplanning all the way. Take your own raincoat or spray jacket that's it.

8. Airline food – Hopefully this is going to get better as airlines start to look at reducing waste. Start by not drinking the little single-use water cups, bring your own cutlery, cups and water bottle. To counter the dessert, salads, cheese and bikkies in plastic packaging either go without (tough one as the only thing to look forward to on flights is getting there and eating) bring your own nuts or home-made sweets in a lunch box that you can then use throughout your trip.

Standard airline food credit: telegraph.co.uk

9. Trinkets, knick-knacks and thingamajigs – Your on holidays you want memoirs, gifts and proof that you were there. Will you use it long into the future or will it just be sent to landfill? Can you get it not wrapped in plastic and importantly what is the story behind it? Is it mass produced or actually helping the artisan you are buying it from? Photos are good.

And you can certainly use the #fairfoodforagerapp to find great places already reducing waste. It helped us more than a few times and its exactly what its made for.

Travelling without adding the destinations waste shouldn’t be all that difficult. Of course you are going to fail sometimes, but set yourself the goal of bringing it all home if you can’t avoid it and lets all take stock of what we contribute to the global waste stream. If we take more notice we will soon become more aware of the things we take for granted and the solutions right under our nose.

Founder – Paul Hellier

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