How to travel plastic free
We all are pretty aware that plastic is a problem. We consume it in mass quantities on a daily basis, flooding our waterways, landfills and oceans with unnecessary waste. While sometimes plastic is required, there are still many ways to avoid using it and to cut down on your carbon footprint. If you have travel coming up and you want to be more green, cutting down on plastic is a good way to go. Here are some facts about why plastic is bad and why it should be avoided where possible and what you can do to help.
Facts about plastic waste
73% of beach litter worldwide is made up of plastics
Have you ever been to a beautiful beach in an exotic place and its shores are littered with garbage? Buckets, lighters, sandals, rope, fishing gear - these are all things that do not belong in our waters or on our beaches, but yet we see them all the time.
Plastic kills millions of seabirds every year
Seabirds directly consume plastic or they consume fish that have consumed plastics, which then settles in their stomachs and kills them. It’s also said that 90% of birds and fish have plastic particles in their stomachs at all times.
We consume plastic all the time without knowing it
There is this pesky thing called microplastic: small particles of plastic that are found in fish and other food that we ingest on a daily basis. One study showed the average person may consume up to 70,000 microplastics each year.
Plastic production has doubled in the past 50 years
While we think to think we’ve become more progressive over time, we have not in regards to plastic. Plastic overtakes landfills and contributes to pollution and waste all over the world way more than it ever has.
More than half the plastic we use is single use
Most plastic we use is often for single use - things like plastic bags, takeaway containers and straws. It seems so wasteful for such a short-term use to end up in our landfills and oceans for centuries.
More than 1 million plastic bags are used every minute around the world
If 1 million bags are used every minute globally, then that means there are potentially over a billion plastic bags used all over the world on a daily basis. That's a lot of plastic that could easily be avoided.
Every piece of plastic ever made still exists
Aside from the small amount of plastic that has been incinerated, every single piece ever made still exists in some way. Even if it’s broken down and seemingly disappeared, it still exists, scattered all over the world as microplastics.
10 million straws are used daily around the world
It’s said that there is an average of 10 million plastic straws used around the world on a daily basis. In Australia alone, it’s estimated that pubs contribute 540 million straws to landfills each year.
These are just a few of the facts about plastic and plastic waste. The amount of plastic used worldwide is almost impossible to think about. Millions of tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans every year, and more in landfills. We are surrounded by it, consumed by it and we are a slave to it. But now, it’s time to change.
Tips to travel plastic free
If you’re heading out on an adventure, you may be craving the desire to do so as green as possible. One of the best ways to be green is to travel plastic free. By cutting down on your own plastic usage wherever you go, you will cut down on the number of plastics that end up in the oceans, rivers and landfills worldwide.
Use shampoo bars
Shampoo and conditioner bars are the newest invention on the market that is paving the way to a plastic-free life. While these can be used at home, they are a particularly great addition when it comes to travelling. They are small, compact and eco-friendly. Shampoo bars cut down on plastic usage they are often made plastic free without plastic wrapping, and also give you a lot more washes than a traditional shampoo bottle! This means less buying, less consuming and of course, less plastic. You can purchase a metal tin to put them in for travel, making them a great addition to your travel kit.
Avoid single-use plastic
Single-use plastics are a huge contributor to plastic waste. If it’s used once and then throw away, it is considered single-use. Think plastic bags, straws, take-away containers, disposable cutlery, cellophane, plastic cups, water bottles, produce bags, and more. Every single type of single-use plastic is replaceable with something that is reusable and eco-friendly. Say 'no' to the plastic bag or forgo the straw - this minor change can make a lasting impact on the world and the waste that goes into it.
Bring a water bottle with you to refill
Bottled water is a big contributor to world waste. Australia is a hot country, and people need to stay hydrated, which is why bottled water is such a problem here. So why not bring your own bottle? By carrying a reusable water bottle, you can cut down on your own plastic consumption hugely. And there really isn’t an excuse for not doing so.... you can purchase reusable water bottles that are collapsible and concealable, meaning you can pretty much take it with you wherever you go.
There is a reusable option for almost everything out there. If you’re at the store, opt to choose a reusable bag, even if it means spending a little extra. Pack your lunch in reusable plastic containers. Carry cutlery with you if you know you’re going to a BBQ or somewhere else with plastic forks and knives. Always choose reusable when you can and cut down on the use of disposable plastic items.
Bring your own straw
Since so many single-use plastic straws are used daily, you can help get this number down by bringing your own straw! You can purchase reusable metal straws from stores all over Australia (and online) that can be used over and over again. If you’re going to the pub, bring your own along and you can use it all night long. Most bartenders are happy to give it a rinse for you to stow away when you’re done, making it an easy and single way to cut back on plastics.
Avoid fast fashion
If you have travel coming up and are purchasing new clothes for the occasion, do some research into the brand first. Opt to go for brands that use sustainable fabrics and avoid the use of plastic. Generally ‘fast fashion’ brands are designed and made for short term use and often go for unsustainable fabrics. They are designed for trends and the ‘right now’ look rather than focusing on long-term use and wear. They are cheap in cost and quality and are not a sustainable way to spend money nor invest in good clothing.
Pick up trash
While picking up trash on your travels may not seem like the best use of time, it’s going to make a big difference to the world around you. If you’ve travelled to a beautiful place that you love, you would not want to see it covered in rubbish. Search for a beach cleanup, or organize one with you and your friends and make the beaches of the world a little better today than they were yesterday. Every little bit makes a difference and you will walk away feeling great while the world around you looks a little better!
Things to avoid
We’ve made a list of things you can avoid on a daily basis that will cut down on your plastic usage while you’re travelling.
- Produce bags - when grocery shopping, opt to not use the produce bag. They are unnecessary and are thrown away as soon as you get back to your hotel or hostel.
- Toiletries - While toiletries are important, try to avoid purchasing products that have plastic. Opt for a bar of soap over body wash, and grab some shampoo bars over bottled shampoo.
- Plastic bags and straws - Bring along reusable straws and bags wherever you go so you’re prepared!
- Chewing gum - Opt for mints over chewing gum. Most gum is made with plastic - which is not the only kind of gross, but also not sustainable or good for the planet.
- Foods wrapped in plastic - Purchase produce, nuts, breads, meat or fish that is wrapped in paper or not wrapped at all. For things such as nuts, bring your own glass container to fill up.
- Shower caps - It’s the little things that count! If you use a shower cap when you’re travelling, bring your own along with you and don’t use the one you find at the hotel or hostel. Waterproof cotton is the best.
There are plenty of things you can do while travelling to avoid using plastic. Stay conscious of your plastic consumption and aware of what you use on a daily basis. Always ask yourself if it's necessary and how you can make your life a little more reusable and plastic free and enjoy your travels all over the world with a lighter carbon footprint.