Earth Day (and everyday) ways to reduce plastic when travelling

bottle Earth Day (and everyday) ways to reduce plastic when travelling Sasha Gayer
Approx read: 3 mins

Earth Day is 22 April. This year’s theme: Planet vs Plastics.

How can you reduce plastic waste when travelling?

Grab your reusable water bottle and let’s get started!

Reusable water bottle

Good news! Hydration stations are cropping up in airports all over the world. LAX, San Francisco and Schipol have banned single-use plastic water bottles. Forgot? Airports never miss an opportunity for a sale. Reusable water bottles abound in duty-free. You might not even have to chug or dump your drinking water at security, as high tech scanners are eliminating the need for the 100 ml rule.

spork Earth Day (and everyday) ways to reduce plastic when travelling Sasha Gayer


There’s no need to buy a fancy matching set of reusable utensils, which might even be made out of the p-word. Rummage around your cutlery drawer for lightweight eating implements or pick up some at a thrift shop. (Remember, no sharp knives unless you want to donate them to airport security) Got any chopsticks lurking in the junk drawer? Perfect.


Bar soap and shampoo keep your toiletry kit light. Skip travel size items – fill reusable containers. Not a fan of tablets, I squeeze some toothpaste into a container with a screw-top lid. A washcloth works great for removing makeup.

Pack smart

Reduce waste and save money by avoiding checked luggage. Go for lightweight, versatile outer layers that you can wear more than once. Check the weather before packing rain gear. Don’t wrap checked bags in plastic.

A cotton handkerchief always comes in handy. So lightweight and easy to wash, I always bring a few. Perfect for sticky fingers, a sweaty brow, a runny nose, or tears of joy from your effort to save the planet.


Durable luggage can be pricey. There’s a good chance that not all of your close friends are joining you on your trip. Why not borrow a bag instead of buying one?

If your friends don’t trust you with a carry-on bag, reconsider your life choices. And invest in luggage that’s durable.

In the air

Bring your own headphones for better sound quality and no plastic baggie waste. Skip the plastic-wrapped blanket and wear a jumper or a scarf.

Bring your own responsibly packaged snacks. For longer flights, use your reusable utensils to saw through that rubbery chicken or go for something you can get to your face with your chopsticks.

At the hotel

Resist the urge to pocket hotel bathroom goodies. Skip the mini bar and head out for refreshments. Load up at a local supermarket for snacks to avoid single-use packaging and sample regional food.

Your eco-conscious accommodation probably has a recycling policy. Ask the front desk for advice on sorting details.

empty Earth Day (and everyday) ways to reduce plastic when travelling Sasha Gayer

Out and about

Pick up at least one piece of litter each outing and dispose of it responsibly. Some countries have a bottle and can deposit system, so those empties you see near a bin may be left out as a gift for someone down on their luck. I usually go for dry things that flutter and fit in my pocket: candy wrappers or crisp packets. It’s a nice thing to do and that little break helps you pay more attention to your surroundings.

If you’re travelling around Earth Day, a fantastic way to meet locals and practise your language skills is a neighbourhood or beach cleanup. These should be free or at most, charge a nominal fee for supplies. Avoid paying big bucks for a beach cleanup, the kind that comes with a T shirt and photo op. Hustlers have been known to wait until do-gooders are out of site, then dump the trash back onto the beach for the next round of suckers.


Buy local, eco-friendly souvenirs. Supermarkets and drug stores are great places to pick up inexpensive souvenirs that punch above their weight. Regional condiments, sweets, hot sauces, teas, and hand cremes beat tacky fridge magnets made in China any day. Learn how to say ‘no bag, please’ in the local language. Instead, tuck your treasures into a reusable shopping bag, which could also be a great souvenir.

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