Here are some tips on how we try to minimize waste while traveling. Achieving 100% zero waste may be challenging, so we do what we can to be mindful of the waste we generate. We enjoy eating tofu and vegan cheese, but making them from scratch can be expensive and time-consuming, especially while traveling. We like to indulge in foods that we don't typically prepare at home, which sometimes results in producing waste.
However, we have a list of zero waste items that we try to use during our travels to be more sustainable.
These are the easiest that everyone mentions, but we STILL see people carrying around to-go cups and plastic water-bottles. I've found that if I'm carrying my semi-heavy Hydroflask, then I'll be more encouraged to drink water every half hour, since it's right in front of me. It's pretty large so I can carry a lot of water because you never know when the next place you'll be with clean drinking water. The coffee cup is a lifesaver too! This was only $7 USD on Amazon and is collapsible, spill-proof, and carries a good amount of liquid. I've used this for alcohol to smoothies, everything in between.
Again, we can't make a lot of items from scratch like we want to since we are currently living in a van and have limited space. So we have to rely heavily on buying from companies that use recycled plastic, can be returned after being used, and has done what they can to ensure they source the freshest and non-planet-harming ingredients. We usually buy our skincare stuff from Lush since a lot of the products are vegan. You can return 5 tubs at any Lush store to get a free face mask. We don't always buy from there though because it can be quite expensive. If you go to any health food store, chances are they'll have bars of soap that have no plastic packaging. We have tried using bar soap shampoo and conditioner and the brands we used didn't work well for us. We're still on the lookout! But for now, Lush has been our saviour.
We also use a butterfly safety razor knife for shaving. This is a great product that gives you a super close shave without the use of plastic. We got one with a long handle so it's easier to grip and the blades open from the bottom end with a twist, so that way it's more secure. There's a lot of videos out there on Youtube so I recommend doing your research to try and find the one that works well for you. Some airlines don't allow the razor blades to be stored in your carry on, so make sure you ask the airlines beforehand. You can pick up the blades practically anywhere and they're so cheap. We usually change them out after the 6th use.
Bamboo toothbrushes are huge in the zero waste movement, but the bristles themselves aren't actually compostable. You need to cut that end off since it's made from a synthetic material (usually nylon). There are ones that are compostable 100% because they use boar's hair for the bristles, but we are vegan and don't support that. Toothy tabs from Lush are amazing as well for travel. It won't count as a liquid, so that saves you space for your limited liquid toiletries space. Tongue scrapers are great to have and can last you a long time, depending on how well you take care of it. Dental floss usually is made with beeswax and will come in plastic packaging, but there are many brands out there that carry floss that's vegan and stored in paper packaging. Usually any vegan or health food store will have a vegan floss option.
We like to save money when traveling by cooking a lot of meals at home. One way reduce waste is chopping everything from scratch and never buying produce that is in plastic packaging. A lot of grocery stores sell bell pepper or apples in these plastic containers, which is super unnecessary. Remember that produce is grown outside and there is a lot of dirts, bugs, and possibly dirty hands touching your food before purchasing it. Either way, you're going to have to rinse your veggies and fruit before consumption.
For pasta or stir frys, we always buy sauce that comes in glass. Sometimes it's a bit more expensive, but usually these products are a lot tastier anyways! We buy canned beans since we can't bulk cook and store in a fridge. Thankfully canned products are great for recycling. To be honest, we don't really use our reusable straw that often. It has become a huge trend, but we only use it when drinking juice or smoothies. Our reusable spork was bought at REI for a camping trip, but now we take it wherever we go. Sometimes if we get food to go we'll just ask for it to not come with a plastic lid or cutlery, so that way we save a little bit of single use plastic that would end up in landfill.
The reusable bag from Baggu is also really handy for travel. It can carry a heavy amount of weight and is great for when you're grocery shopping or just shopping in general for souvenirs.
Check out our fancy video on the items listed above! （＾ｖ＾）