Low Waste Travel: The Journey
One of the biggest things about lowering your waste is being prepared, and though this sounds like a lot of work, it isn't. Small and simple things can be done to prepare yourself for a situation in which you would otherwise create trash, and this is exactly the same whilst travelling. Not only is it important to have your regular low waste essentials, whatever those are to you, but it is also good to have a couple extra things on hand, especially whilst flying, so these are a few things we bring around to create the least waste whilst travelling.
There are numerous items packaged in single use plastic on planes and one of them is blankets. Planes are cold, I think most can agree on that, AND if you are sleeping it's just nice to have something to snuggle under other than wearing layers. So we always bring a blanket or towel with us so that the we avoid the airlines blankets which are packaged in plastic and save them from using another plastic bag to wrap it for the next customer! We spoke to flight attendants and they've all said that if the plastic bag the blankets are in haven't been opened they simply save them for the next person. This one is one of the gorgeous turkish towels which we use for a whole host of things, but they are super soft so great for the plane (especially the sultan collection).
Another thing that is packaged in single use plastic on planes are headphones, so simply bring your own. Most of us own earphones/headphones and they can be tiny in your bag so it isn't a hassle to bring. Of course because of the plug you don't always hear it on both earpieces but this is totally liveable in comparison so the detriment that plastic does to our planet (to you know, be dramatic about it). Same as with the blankets, if not used the flight attendants will simply leave the unopened headphones for the next person saving a plastic bag!
Our first in this low waste travel series was on food whilst flying, but that focused specifically on airplane food. What it didn't mention is food whilst travelling generally, which includes before, after, and during a flight. Even though you have a meal on a flight, often times people (me) like to snack as well, out of a mixture of boredom and hunger. So, bring your own! This was on our way back to Hong Kong from Amsterdam, and I managed to get some package free berries from a local market and some granola from a bulk store, both light (I would be carrying my container anyways) and easy snacking items. I'm not going to give you snack ideas because I'm sure you know what you like, but bringing your own just makes sure that if you get in a situation where there aren't any loose options for you that you aren't left having to buy a packaged item.
This is also an easy way to make use of the containers you (probably should) otherwise be bringing, and after washing they can be used for other items along the way as well!
This one is obvious, bring a water bottle! But, what might not come straight to mind is filling up your water bottle before a flight. Most airports have water fountains now; it is best to fill up your water bottle using these instead of on the plane so that you can avoid using up water from the large plastic bottles the plane offers them in. This is obviously a small thing and doesn't make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things, but if you are able to do it you make a statement and push for airlines to be creative and reconsider the alternatives they may offer. I would also bring a small cup if you like to have other drinks on the plane to avoid any other single use items.
Finally, this isn't really an item but a habit - try and steer clear of all of the magazines wrapped up in single use plastic on the plane, and bring your own things to read if that is something you like doing. If you are in business class, refuse the freebies. Ultimately low waste travel comes down to a wee bit of a preparation and an awareness of where plastic enters throughout the journey and what you can do to avoid it. With summer coming to an end, I challenge you all to try to do a few of these things whilst travelling home, and update us!