It’s the most wonderful time of the year again, which means: presents-time! It’s tricky to find the perfect gift for a traveler. Or maybe you are a traveler and don’t know what to list. Or maybe you want to treat yourself. But do not worry, these sustainable travel products are a must-have. Especially while traveling it’s difficult to be environmentally cautious, as almost everything ‘travel’ comes in plastic. So let’s get rid of the single-use plastic and reduce your waste to ZERO with help of these eco-friendly travel essentials and make your travels greener!
NOTE: if you decide to buy these as gifts, consider eco-friendly
gift wrapping: use what you have, reuse & be creative!
Let’s start our journey towards zero waste and no more single-use plastic in the toiletry bag! Because let’s be honest: all the travel-size shampoos and lotions are not sustainable at all. Refillable bottles are a little bit better, but let us suggest some greener alternatives.
The best thing about shampoo bars is not even that it’s better for the environment, the bars actually last longer than any other bottle of shampoo AND you can bring it in your carry-on as it’s not liquid! There are so many great brands out there and although Lush is currently the most famous shop for it, we don’t think it’s the best one out there (our hair gets so dry at first and then quickly greasy again). We love our shampoo bar from Boobalou! The shampoo bar also comes in eco-friendly packaging and can also be used as a soap bar (or well, that’s just what we do).
Plastic Free Razor
Actually, this is something we hadn’t realized sooner and we hate ourselves for it. Disposable razors are so bad! And yes we did use them longer than we should’ve, but still, it’s literally such a WASTE. Then we also learned about pink tax, meaning razors for women are actually more expensive than razors for men. Not because they are different – just because it’s for women. So we made the switch to safety razors (like the one our fathers use for their beards) from the brand Merkur. And let’s be honest here: IT IS THE BEST! Our skin is softer than ever, with less skin irritation and we don’t even use shaving foam!
Toothbrush & -Paste
Toothbrushes are simply one of those things you need to replace every three months. So there’s no option to go zero waste on this one, but you can make it eco-friendlier waste. The perfect solution is to get bamboo toothbrushes. Bamboo grows incredibly fast, there’s an abundance of it and it’s sustainable. With its naturally antibacterial character, it’s the best choice for both environment and your daily oral care. The Bam & Boo has thought of something perfect: a toothbrush subscription. Shipping worldwide and on your terms (every 1/2/3/4 months): no worries necessary!
And let’s talk toothpaste for a moment, as it’s impacting the environment just as much as toothbrushes. There are a few options to reduce toothpaste-waste – and to make it healthier! Choosing for toothpaste in a metal tube is already better than plastic ones. The brand Bite takes it a step further: zero paste, zero waste. Instead of paste, they produce tablets! Give Me The Dirt decided to go about it a different way: let’s start by less toxic ingredients and start making toothpaste healthier from within! The result: natural kinds of toothpaste; better for you, better for the environment. NOTE: did you know you can make toothpaste yourself easily? There are many recipes out there!
Menstrual Cup + Reusable Pads
Okay, we can literally write an entire blog post about menstrual cups (we actually talked extensively about it in this article). But let’s not do that here. The advantages in short: worry-free for 4-12 hours (depending on your flow), reusable up for at least 5 years, a huge decrease of waste, healthier for your lady parts & cheaper than tampons and pads! Let’s calculate a little, shall we? The average woman uses approximately 240 tampons each year (20 per cycle), on average a tampon costs $0.20, which means you’ll spend 240 tampons x 5 years x $0.20 = $240 every five years on tampons. So if you invest once in a cup of $25… You get the point. You can even buy 10 to test which one fits you best and you don’t lose money! If a menstrual cup isn’t for you, you might want to try out reusable pads. Nothing hurts the environment like sanitary stuff!
Makeup + Remover
Less is more. Especially with makeup. We rarely use makeup and it’s a blessing for our skin and the environment! If you buy makeup, please make sure it’s cruelty-free & ethical. As for makeup remover or cleansing rituals: consider buying a reusable microfiber cloth. It’s chemical-free and wipes away everything! Ooh, one thing we do love: glitter. Yes, we’re gay okay?! But did you know glitter is microplastic and therefore bad for the environment? So next time you want to glitter yourself (or any Xmas stuff): use biodegradable glitter – you’ll be fabulous AND eco-friendly! And did you know oil is the best way to remove glitter? We love using coconut oil – also as body lotion and it’s great for a hair mask too (throw out all your cream/lotions and just buy coconut oil – your body says thanks!).
Sunscreen is actually hurting coral reefs. There is no nicer way to say it. The chemical oxybenzone, often used in sunscreen, has a toxic effect on young coral. Of course, going snorkeling or diving without sunscreen is not the healthier solution here (please always protect your skin!), but luckily you can buy sunscreen without oxybenzone. And while you’re at it, buy some deet-free insect repellent.
You might be surprised how toxic deodorant can be, to both you and the environment. Aside from toxic and chemical ingredients, there’s also the packaging of course (and while traveling you need quite a bit of it, carrying around your heavy backpacks everywhere, right?). So let’s talk natural deodorant! There are many options to buy natural deodorants but let us tell you this: you only need one this. BAKING SODA. Before you laugh (okay, it might be after already), hear us out. Try this: wet your underarms and mix a fingertip of baking soda and water and distribute in your armpits – that’s it. Let it dry (if you put too much, don’t worry) and have a happy smell-free day! How does it work? Sweat itself doesn’t smell, it’s the normal skin bacteria breaking down the sweat secretion that make for the smell. Baking soda has an antibacterial character, so no bacteria, no smell. And completely natural & eco-friendly
Shop Baking Soda | or buy in any shop nearby!
Eco-Friendly Travel Packing
Saying no to plastic is especially important for (travel) packing. The products below will help you use less plastic in the long run!
We started out with plastic ziplock bags and they were quite convenient for a while: you can vacuum stuff so you have more space. But when traveling things break and the ziplock bags were the first to go. So we went for packing cubes and everything is better now! Just roll up your clothes and DONE. It doesn’t only save space, it also makes for great organizers.
Shop online | or buy FÖRFINA packing cubes at IKEA as we did
Okay, reusing a plastic bag as a laundry bag is still better than only using a plastic bag once. But the goal is to go plastic-free, so why not invest a wash bag? And you can totally use the bags for other purposes. As a fruit bag for example, when you’re at the supermarket. No more useless plastic bags for your veggies & fruit.
Shop online | or buy PRESSA washing bags at IKEA as we did (not available in every country)
No shame: we love bringing food everywhere and we definitely don’t like to waste food at the restaurant (yes, to-go box please!). But it can be quite hurtful to take single-use to-go boxes everywhere. So we bring our own food containers everywhere! If it was possible, we’d choose a glass container, but that’s difficult while traveling. For now, we use a plastic one (not single-use though!) and we’d like to upgrade to silicone containers.
There are a few more products that don’t easily fit in a category, so let’s call it extras!
Water Bottle + Filter + Heater
Everyone gets plastic water bottles that are the worst, but it’s not always easy while traveling to stick to a reusable water bottle. Water quality isn’t the same everywhere, so let’s talk beyond the obvious bottle (BTW: we love our double-wall metal bottle, it keeps water hot or cold for ages!). You can buy a water filter and travel heater so you can actually treat water from the tap and make it drinkable!
This whole no-straw thing is getting big and a lot of people are complaining ‘we have bigger problems than straws’. Well, wake up call: every time you do NOT use a straw, that not-used straw cannot end up stuck in a turtle’s nose! So there is no good reason to not decline straws with your iced coffee, milkshake, or coke. There is only one good reason not to buy reusable bamboo or silicone straws and that is: straws, in general, are a ridiculous thing – and unnecessary. But fun, so just buy sustainable ones, okay?
Single-use cutlery is the worst! The best way to reduce waste in this matter is to bring your own. We love eating with chopsticks (since it takes a bit longer you actually digest better & enjoy more), but there are great bamboo/metal options for normal cutlery too! And for travel, you might want to invest in a knork, sporf, spork, spife or splayd (okay these contaminations just crack me up so I couldn’t help but use all of the words).
More than eco-friendly, having a solar charger is a great addition to your travel gear if you ever go hiking in remote places. Imagine forgetting to charge your camera and you’re on a three-day hike in the jungle! Definitely a great idea to bring a solar charger.
Reuse & Buy Local
Of course, buying these items and replacing less eco-friendly stuff is a great step into your journey towards ethical traveling. But you can do much much more. Keep in mind that reusing (buying second-hand clothing for example) and buying locally produces products (supporting local culture & not buying into the big chains that don’t have the best ethics) is always the better option. If you’re curious about what other things you can do, read our blog post How To Be Greener: Top Tips For Ethical Eco-Friendly Travel.
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