How To Travel & Leave No Trace
Sometimes it feels as though our zero-waste habits take a backseat while we are on-the-go; leaving a trail of wrappers, plastic and disposable items in our wake. Let’s not be so hard on ourselves, no matter what we do and where we go, waste is inevitable. It’s how we choose to handle it, and even plan ahead to avoid the waste, that really counts. Besides, traveling is for living in the moment and is meant to be enjoyed! You can use this zero-waste checklist to help you reduce waste on every adventure.
So, Conscious Travelers, whether you’re stamping your passport or taking a road trip, here’s your guide on how to tread lightly wherever you go. And if you’re going the extra mile, give the DIY Travel Hand Wipes a shot, too!
Zero-Waste Food + Drink
Reusable bags, like Stasher’s silicone ziploc-style bags, are sturdy, easy to clean and come in a range of sizes. These are also great for planes and give fragile items some cushion.
Stainless steel containers, in large sizes to hold soups, salads or sandwiches and small sizes perfectly hold your snacks
Reusable paper towels and/or cloth napkins
Zero-Waste Beauty + Wellness
Small mister bottle for keeping skin hydrated or removing stains
Nail brush for cleaning underneath the nails and staying healthy
Roll-on essential oils such as lavender, lemon or peppermint (great for motion sickness!)
Handkerchief or cotton face rounds for absorbing oil or removing make-up
Aluminum soap box and reusable travel containers for liquids
DIY Travel Hand Wipes
Whether it’s a sticky situation or a quick refresh at some point in your travels, you’ll find yourself reaching for a hand wipe. Ditch the disposables and instead, make your own eco-friendly, non-toxic hand wipes that you can use again and again. It’s a quick and easy recipe that only requires three ingredients. Here’s how:
A small or medium shatterproof container (stainless steel is ideal) that can hold at least 7 oz.
3-4 cotton rags, cloth, flannel or even pieces of old t-shirts will do! Cut them to size so they fit the container
2 cups of warm water
7 drops of castile soap
5 drops of essential oil, like lavender, lemon or whatever else you prefer
Place the fabric in a large mason jar and add the warm water, soap and oil. Tightly seal the lid and shake to combine. Do this a day or two before you leave so the fabric can absorb all the liquids, then transfer them to the travel container. Pour just a tiny bit of the liquid over the fabric to keep it moist and layer them in so they are snug against the walls of the container and each other to keep from drying out. That’s it! Simply grab your wipes and go.
You can always spritz them with water to keep them moist and even bring a travel-sized container of castile soap if you need to make a new batch. When you get home, toss them in the wash and reuse them for next time.
More Zero-Waste Travel Tips
Pack your own snacks and food ahead of time in your reusable bags or containers. Always pack more to avoid the inevitable spur-of-the-moment purchases when you run out of food!
You can also bring along beeswax wrap to save half-eaten snacks or keep your food fresh on the road
Some coffee shops aren’t allowed to pour coffee directly into your mug and will have to give it to you in a paper cup first. Australian company, Sipp, makes instant coffee in compostable bags. They also make chai and matcha green tea to sip on-the-go, too! Game changers.
Waste isn’t as much of a problem when it’s disposed of or recycled properly. Look for recycling cans and even compost bins wherever you can find them.
Based in the beautiful city of Portland, Maine, Katherine Oakes Englishman is a writer and yoga teacher with a passion for empowering others to live a more conscious and connected life. She is a contributing writer for The Good Trade, Wayward Collective and pens articles on outdoor travel as the East Coast correspondent at Bearfoot Theory; Katherine is also the former web editor of Pure Green Magazine. Offline, you can find her on a yoga mat or in pursuit of adventure in the wilds of Maine and the neighboring White Mountains.