Guest blog post by Lindsay Miles, treadingmyownpath.com
There’s no need to bring everything but the kitchen sink when traveling, but carrying a few reusables makes reducing waste so much easier when you’re on the go, and has some other benefits too. Not-so-fun fact: the top 10 items found in beach clean-ups include coffee cups, plastic bags, food packaging, plastic cutlery, and straws – all single-use items that are easy to avoid with a little pre-planning.
A Reusable Coffee Cup
These come in all shapes, sizes and materials. For traveling, plastic, silicone or metal might be a better option than glass, and check whether the lid is leakproof, leak resistant or going to spill coffee remnants all over your best (or only) shirt. If space is an issue, collapsible cups exist. Reusable coffee cups can be used on the airplane, to grab water from a fountain or water cooler, and for carrying leftovers or small bakery / deli items.
Malcolm’s tip: Stainless water bottles like a S’well do double duty as water or coffee vessels, eliminating the need to carry both. Just wash well before switching back to water to avoid coffee flavored water.
A Reusable Mesh Produce Bag (Or Two)
A lightweight mesh or net bag allows us to buy bread and bakery items, snacks, fruit and vegetables and dried bulk goods such as nuts from markets and stores without taking a disposable bag. They are tear proof, easy to wash, and can be tied to the outside of your bag. Also useful for small amounts of dirty laundry or for keeping wet swimwear out of your luggage.
A Reusable Leak-proof Container or Lunchbox
The lightest (and least breakable) options are plastic or metal, and a silicone seal ensures no leaks on your clothes. A 100% leak-proof container will double as an extra water carrier, if needed. Great for making packed lunches (and most airlines will allow you to bring your own food onto the plane), keeping leftovers for later and buying take away from cafes. When empty, keep socks and smalls inside to save on space.
A Reusable Cutlery Set (or Spork)
Bamboo or wooden cutlery can be taken on planes, or a foldable spork (a spoon with fork prongs) is great for ultra-lightweight travel. BYO cutlery means refusing all the single-use plastic cutlery, and it is far easier to eat with these than wrestle with a plastic knife and fork that often aren’t up to the task.
A Reusable Straw
Not for everyone, but a reusable straw can be useful to avoid plastic straws in countries where plastic straws are commonplace, such as southeast Asia. It is far easier to demonstrate that you already have a straw than explain in Thai that you’d prefer no plastic straw. Also useful if you’re keen on iced drinks, smoothies and drinking coconuts. Options are reusable bamboo, stainless steel, silicone or glass.
Traveling light is great, but leaving a huge trail of trash in our wake isn’t - not for for the places we visit, nor the people and wildlife that live there. The good news is, all it take is a few simple switches to minimize our impact and tread a little lighter.
Lindsay Miles writes about less waste and less stuff at treadingmyownpath.com. Her new book ‘Less Stuff’ will be released in the USA on August 6th. Follow her on Instagram at @treadingmyownpath.