Summer Challenge- 5 Ways to Green Your Travel Routine
Summertime. It's the season we hold in our minds in the highest esteem as we curse and freeze our way through the dark days of winter. The days are longer, children have flooded the public during daytime hours, the boob and butt crack sweat is flowing, and many people take time out for some much needed vacation.
Travel is often a hard time to keep up with an eco-friendly routine, mostly because we are plain out of our routine when we travel. There are so many other things to think about and pack that we just want the trip to be as effortless as possible. My challenge for you, if you choose to accept it, is to be mindful of how we can all help out the Earth as we go enjoy her summertime splendor. Here are some tips from me on how I try to keep it green during travel, and also one of my recent travel fails!
1.) Bring a reusable water bottle and reusable coffee cup
I have water anxiety when I travel. If I'm going to be out all day during my vacation, I always want to make sure I have my water bottle with me, but I hate buying multiple plastic bottles because a.) plastic bottles and b.) you never know if you are going to have the opportunity to recycle them. I also have a third level of thinking about water- I hate drinking tap water because of all the nasties lurking in there. Here is an article from NRDC about contaminants in tap water. This phobia of tap water led me to a green travel "fail" during my recent trip to Asheville.
The AirBnB we were staying didn't have any kind of water filtration system, just a plain 'ole faucet. I had my reusable bottle with me but this led to a conundrum- is it worse to drink from the tap or purchase water in a plastic bottle for my drinking water? Also, I know, I KNOW that bottled water has been found to be basically like tap water. But my OCD about water contaminants won out, and I did purchase a large jug of (supposed) spring water to fill my water bottle for the rest of the trip. My only condolence to myself was that I purchased a really large jug instead of multiple smaller water bottles. If you are concerned about filtered water like me, it might be a good investment to get a water bottle that filters your water for you! Here is an article from HuffPost that ranks some of the top water filtering bottles on Amazon. Note: a lot of these bottle are made of plastic, but you would still be making a more eco-friendly choice with these than purchasing countless plastic water bottles or other drinks from a store or gas station.
If you are a coffee drinker, then I think bringing along a reusable mug would be a great idea for making your travel routine more green. On my most recent road trip, we stopped at a Pilot gas station. Their coffee set up was pretty impressive! Everything was self serve and digital, and there was an option to use your own mug! They even had organic coffee! I was very impressed. You can also bring your reusable mug to coffee shops. Some places have self serve regular coffee, and I bet most baristas would have no problem pouring the drink into your mug if you ask! This saves the to-go mug and cup. If you think about the little things like takeaway mugs, plastic lids, coffee stirrers, and straws- these items get used for such a short amount of time, and if they are plastic, they will be around FOREVER! It's crazy. Definitely an incentive for me to bring my own cups when I think about these things.
(My favorite water bottle and travel mug, ready to hit the open road!)
2.) Bring easy to pack reusable bags
I don't know how many times my lightweight, foldable reusable bags have come in handy while traveling. (You can find something similar here). I stash one bag in my small purse, and I have another one in my favorite travel backpack. From the random grocery or drug store purchase, or to hold my water bottle and a sweater while I'm walking around, these bags have come in clutch time and time again. Do NOT forget your reusable bags!
(This bag folds up and lives in my travel backpack!)
3.) Find ONE set of travel bottles you like and stick to them!
I don't know if you're anything like me, but once upon a time, every time I went on a trip, I would purchase a new set of travel size plastic bottles, a new zipper case to carry them in, plus all of the tiny products that I needed. By the time the end of the first trip came around and the next one arrived, I somehow lost all the mini bottles and would start all over.
Now I have my system set. I still use a lot of plastic bottles for my products, but I am using the same ones over and over. I pare down my routine to make sure that all the products can fit in my carry on liquids bag. I have acquired a few small jars and containers that fit all of my needs, and I try to pour the products I have at home in the containers instead of buying mini stuff every time. (It's hard not to, it's so tempting!). If you are needing a new set of travel bottles and can't reuse the ones you already have, here are some awesome looking bottles that are made of silicone and easy to fill and clean.
4.) Pack as much food as you can
Whenever I travel, snacks are always on my mind. It might be the fact that I am a picky, plant based eater, but I am always looking ahead on how I can bring snacks wherever I go. Packing for the car is a bit easier. Pack a cooler with healthy options like cut up veggies, sandwiches, fruit, water, hummus, and chips and crackers in Tupperware containers. I also recommend hitting up the bulk section of your grocery store (bring your own Ziplock to save a bag here, too!), and getting some awesome snacks from the bulk section. This will help cut down on having to buy snacks with plastic packaging while on the road. And let's be honest, it will probably be a hell of a lot healthier if you pack it yourself.
BYOSnacks is still possible with air travel. I go for a classic almond butter and jelly sandwich on wheat bread, packed in a Tupperware or a plastic bag that I will wash out when I get to my destination and reuse later. I usually bring an apple, other snacks I might have at home, essentials like chocolate bark, and easy things that aren't liquid or don't need to stay cold. I never have trouble bringing anything through security.
As always, don't forget your reusable water bottle! You can fill it up in the terminal, and it will save you from buying water, or wasting a plastic cup and straw with airplane drinks!
5.) Go eco with your sunscreen
I don't know if you've heard, but there's some nasty stuff hiding in popular sunscreens. Like to the point where experts are debating if it's sunscreen that's causing cancer instead of over exposure to the sun, due to the harmful ingredients absorbing into the skin. More studies are being done, but I'm going to stay ahead of the curve and stick with a more natural sunscreen! Here is the Environmental Working Group's take on the matter.
In addition to possible harmful effects to human bodies, the chemicals in sunscreens are harming our oceans! The chemicals get absorbed by fish, dolphins, the coral reefs, and algae. The chemicals have been shown to impact our ocean habitat, to the point where the National Ocean Service recommends using sunscreens without certain ingredients as a protective measure to our oceans and water ways.
Bonus points if you can find a reef safe, natural sunscreen that's also not packaged in plastic! It's pretty hard, but a co-worker just recently recommended the brand Sand Cloud to me. I have been using it and liking it so far! It absorbs decently well, smells nice and gives me the protection I need. I will definitely reuse the container after I am finished, too! Just a warning, it is kind of pricey and in a small container, so I stick to using this when I just need to use a small amount for a shorter time outside.
If I was going to be at the ocean/pool or outside all day and needed a larger amount to re-apply to my whole body, I would probably search for a different brand in a larger bottle. I also always have my face and chest covered with a wide brimmed hat, and I take frequent breaks into the shade to avoid sunburn.
(Here is the Sand Cloud Sunscreen)
Are you ready to take the Summer Travel Challenge? Do you have any other eco friendly travel tips that you swear by? Comment below or snap a pic and tag me in your Instagram story- @busybodywellness. I will share it to my story to spread the word about the little things we can do to create less waste while we enjoy our badass Earth and all the cool things to do and see! Nature rules!!!