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Zero Waste Travel Tips

The goal of zero waste is to minimize the amount of trash we send to landfills and incinerators. Zero waste initiatives divert 90 percent or more of all waste produced through reuse of materials, recycling, upcycling and composting.

All of us can reduce our consumption and lessen the amount of garbage we produce. Use these sustainability travel tips to help you manage waste more effectively:

Bring a reusable water bottle, travel mug and package-free snacks.

A reusable water bottle is an easy sustainable travel choice! Likewise, thermal mugs and snacks brought in reusable containers can replace single-use plastic bottles, cups and packaging, which inevitably end up in landfills and our oceans. You can also bring your own headphones to avoid using the throwaway plastic ones provided by airlines.

Wear layers and bring a neck pillow, coat or scarf.

Large scarves can serve a dual purpose as both a fashion accessory and a cozy blanket. Wearing layers, taking a coat and using a neck pillow are easy means to stay warm on overnight flights or if you get cold easily. Utilizing these items will help you avoid plastic-wrapped airline blankets and pillows.

Buy zero waste toiletries or create your own.

Minimize the need for disposable travel-sized plastic bottles by using package-free toiletries. Pack solid soap and a shampoo bar, which are easier to travel with than liquids, and keep them in a tin travel case. Get creative and make your own hand lotion and body cream, stored in mini Mason jars. Buy a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush rather than a plastic one. Searching out sustainable travel toiletries, or even creating your own, can be fun!

Use an upcycled travel bag.

You can find cool, upcycled bags made out of everything from repurposed hang gliders to old airport banners. Upcycled backpacks and bags lessen the amount of waste sent to the landfill, as discarded materials are transformed into new products. It also eliminates your need for a plastic bag—a staggering 500 million to 1 trillion single-use plastic bags are used around the world each year.

Carry a reusable napkin.

Wrap up snacks or sandwiches in a bandana rather than using a plastic bag. Dry your hands with a cotton handkerchief instead of paper towels, or use one as a tissue if you have the sniffles.

Travel with a reusable straw and utensils.

The plastic-free partaker has many options when it comes to reusable straws. You can choose stainless steel, silicone, paper, glass, acrylic or even pasta! Or, simply choose to go without. Bringing compostable bamboo utensils or carrying a lightweight "spork" eliminates the need for the plastic utensils handed out in many restaurants.

Follow sustainable practices at your hotel.

While staying at a hotel, hang the "do not disturb” sign outside your door if you do not need freshly washed sheets and towels. You can also conserve water by taking shorter showers. Always turn off all lights and lower the AC or heat when leaving your room.

If you're not that hungry while dining out, share a plate with a friend.

Ecologically rich ecosystems and the wildlife they support are increasingly threatened by the expansion of agriculture. In Brazil's Pantanal, for example, jaguars are losing habitat as forests are converted into farms and ranches to supply food, especially beef. Yet, while these crucial wildlife habitats are shrinking, people worldwide throw out one-third of their food each year. If you have a small appetite, sharing a meal with a dining companion can reduce your food waste. If you can’t finish your meal, you can also opt to take leftovers home (bonus points for bringing a reusable container!). By limiting our food waste and eating sustainably, we can help save the planet’s wild places and the animals that depend on them.

Offset your flight emissions.

By compensating for the carbon output of your flights, you can reduce your carbon footprint. As the world’s first carbon-neutral travel company, Natural Habitat Adventures has offset the carbon output of all of our trips,  included flights and office operations in a continual effort to raise the bar for sustainable travel. Also consider taking direct routes to your destination, rather than a flight with a layover. Takeoff and landing emit the most carbon dioxide, and you can lessen fuel emissions by flying direct.

Waste Reduction Resources from World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

A Plastic Revolution with WWF



More Zero Waste Travel Ideas

TEDx Talk: "How to Waste Less on Vacation" by Sara Dolcinar

The World's First Zero Waste Adventure

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