Traveling Plastic Free
My recent trip to Sydney has been a great opportunity to try out my eco travel plans. I have pulled together a kit of things to try and keep me plastic free while I was away. While it looks a lot all spread out it actually packed down into a small amount and I could fit it all in my shoulder bag I took for the trip.
Yes, there was a little weight in the drink bottle and stacking lunch tin, but my bag really was not that much heavier than it would normally be as I often carry a larger water bottle which has more weight than my smaller 500mL bottle.
I feel happy knowing that I can get everything I will need plastic free including take away meals with the double stacker tin. Having all of this with me made me more determined to actually be mindful when making purchases. It has been a practice for a long time to not buy coffee unless I have my travel cup or can have a coffee in the cafe, as I won’t use a disposable cup ever!
I am a little embarrassed to admit that I have not done so well with the toiletries I am bringing with me on this trip. In fact, I was a bit alarmed generally by the amount of plastic in my bathroom still. I am going to evaluate this and see what I really do want to keep and what I am going to swap out. One swap I am in the process of making is swapping to tooth tablets rather than tubes of toothpaste. I am also trialing new shampoo bars to see if I can get something that will work with my curly and notoriously frizzy and dry hair if I move away from my current bottled shampoo and conditioner. I think it might work with if I continue to use the hair treatment in a metal tube that I have been using- best of all is the metal tube is recyclable and plastic free.
So there were a few happy wins on the trip a few fails, or as I like to call them, learning opportunities for next time. So first the wins- I did not use a single disposable cup on my whole trip, nor did I use any disposable cutlery. Neither did I get any plastic shopping bags. We either had our evening meals out or got our take away food in paper and cardboard! Breakfast we self-catered so could use the apartments crockery and cutlery. We did have a bit of plastic waste from a few things we bought from the local shop. One of my biggest happy moments was when I reapplied that the ICC- where the event I was attending was help- has a super duper waste management system. So I carted my waste back to the ICC so I could put int he relevant bins each day. We also had access to recycling bins in the apartments so I could recycle the recyclables.
The fails or learning opportunities were early on in the trip- I had my reusable cup and very proudly asked for my coffee in the cup- ‘would you like milk?’, yes I say. Uh oh!
So on flight home- I changed tack. I sussed out what on the trolley was coming out of a large carton- ah ha! Apple juice is in a tetra. Ok- I’ll have an apple juice in my cup, please. I did even take some lunch since to my delight we got a little and delicious pie in a cardboard box- with no coating! Yes- a plastic-free flight! I used e- boarding passes on my phone so no paper boarding passes. I did get the sticky tag from my bag I checked on the way home. I am still not really sure how to dispose of that and I have it in my box of things I need to figure out if they can be recycled that lives under my desk.
I did get some plastic on the trip which was out of my control- but I did manage it the best I could. I got a pen and notebook that were both in plastic sleeves, my lunch came in a box each day and had a sandwich, muslin bar, and cookie all in plastic wrapping. Where I could I separated this out and a fair bit of it came home with me so I could put in my soft plastic collection to go to RedCycle collection. I think one of the biggest avoidance points was to not actually buy things. I think this is a good tip for all travelers. If you can avoid it, don’t buy souvenirs, instead take photos or videos of things to share with people. Eat in cafes and restaurants so you can have proper cups and crockery, turn to fruit for snacks- guess what it comes in its own natural packaging- just wash your edible skinned fruit or peel if in places where the water is a bit iffy. If you are traveling to a place where the water is not safe- boil water in the kettle in your hotel, motel or apartment room and let it cool then drink it.
My final tips are to use your electronic devices where you can- get e-tickets, boarding passes, travel guides, maps- or take photos of these. Your electronic device can also help you save space if you use it to read books or little to audiobooks. You can get local newspapers electronically, magazines electronically and many other things I can not think of at the moment.
I look forward to hearing about your plastic free travels!