4 indispensables to pack when traveling green

Most of us like (if not love) to travel. Call it wanderlust, curiosity, love of exoticism or whatever you want really, there is something about emerging yourself if a new culture that it truly exhilarating. For me it already starts when I pack my bag. However, if you’re a greenie at home, it can sometimes be hard to keep the good eco-friendly habits while away and it’s even easier to create bad ones.

 

So here are my 3 indispensables to pack when traveling that will make your journey greener.

1. A water bottle.

Marine litter is such a problem that some experts are saying that in 2050, the ocean will have more plastic than fish.  So cutting on disposable plastic when possible is an excellent way to contribute to keeping litter OUT of marine areas . While traveling, chances are the most plastic you’ll consume will be the one from water bottles as instead of at home where you may drink tap water or use a filter, you won’t have that at hand.

Hence, a transportable water bottle! Usually used by athletes or while hiking, it’s an excellent solution to avoid buying couple of plastic bottles a day and contributing to global pollution! Indeed, if you’re in a country or a place where water is drinkable, all you have to do is fill it whenever you have the chance and there, you’re all set. If the destination however, does not have clean water available, you can either use purifying pills such as iodine that chemically sterilizes the water (can be found in pharmacies and purify any kind of water) or boil it and let it cool down. Moreover, in some hostels and hotels they sometimes have water fountain available for free or a small amount which allows you to fill your bottle just like you would from the tap.

Here are a few brands that sell super stylish bottles while giving back, totally worth a check!

  • Soma: a certified B Corporation, the brand offers super stylish bottles from post consumer waste and recycled materials that and a portion of every filter purchased provides water to people in need.
  • EarthLust: The stainless bottles are made from high quality food-grade steel and BPA-free polypropylene and coated with non-toxic paint! And the designs are absolutely gorgeous!
  • Yuhme: Made from sugarcane, each purchase gives 6 months of clean water to a person in Central African Republic!

2. A solar charging station

Not only is thisas eco friendly as possible (using the energy of the sun to charge your electronic devices? Thank you nature at its best!) it’s also super useful, if, like me, you keep forgetting to charge your phone/camera/computer (delete as appropriate) before leaving the hostel and find yourself at an amazing location, unable to capture any of it because your device is dead (speaking from experience).

Sounds complicated to use? Not at all. Chances are, unless you’re in Belgium in January or Honk Kong during a fog crisis, you’ll be able to get some luminosity and charge, even if not fully and fast, what you’re trying to charge.

Many brands are selling these little electronic revolutions and most are travel size fit (let me know how soon they become your traveling best buds!)

3.  A container to put your junk in

Now you’re thinking: “does she want me to carry a bin around while traveling?”.  Well… just kidding! A plastic jar or a cotton bag or anything really that is small enough to fit in your bag/suitcase but big enough to hold waste such as bottles cap, cigarettes butt if you smoke, sandwich wraps will do the trick. The goal is double.

 Photo from the queen of Zero Waste lifestyle @Lauren Singer

Photo from the queen of Zero Waste lifestyle @Lauren Singer

First, in many countries, outside capitals and big cities, the concepts of bins and public recollection of waste is very poor to nonexistent. Which means either carrying your junk around in your bag until you can dispose it or throwing it away in the streets or even worst nature. If the second option sounds horrific to you and you don’t want your bag to smell weird or be full of waste after only a few days, a small container is an excellent way to take care of your junk until you can dispose of it safely and appropriately.

It’s also a great way to realize how much we throw away! Actually gathering it at the same place and seeing it pile up as your trip goes by is a true wake up call to the issue of waste disposal and over consumption. If you have to empty the “recipient” each time you come across a bin, then, chances are you may be over consuming or this trip! In any case, it’s a great indicator and an easy way to challenge yourself to consume less next trip (fill half of the jar during the same period or empty the bag every two weeks instead of one etc.

4. Eco friendly cosmetics

I know, entering intimacy here. Plus, what does “eco friendly cosmetics” even mean: organic? Natural? Vegan?  All of it? All of these labels or callings are better than conventional cosmetics. But when traveling, especially to places where nature is still pristine and highly fragile, the ideal is biodegradable cosmetics that are made of mineral or natural components rather than chemicals. The idea is that if you’re washing your hair in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle or brushing your teeth in the African bush, what will be washed away by water does not containanything than could harm the nearby environment and further away that could be washed down in the ocean.

Sounds a bit extreme to you?  I’ve been to some places in Central America where they require you to only bring biodegradable products onto the property in order to protect the local environment. They explained that regular a regular use of products made of chemicals has the potential to weaken the soil and therefore the organic agriculture that grows on it as it more fragile than conventional farming, poison the local water sources and therefore the animals both pets and wildlife that depend on it and in the longer term put the  global ecosystem balance at risk. This really makes you think twice when buying your traveling products! (tip, check the components to see if they're mineral or chemical based and if they are biodegradable)

Moreover, I’ll talk about this more in detail in an upcoming post but chemicals based sun creams can have  disastrous effects on marine life and coral reefs causing extremely fast bleaching to corals all around the world.