While getting organised at home to decrease your use of plastic and waste in general is very attainable, I always seem to drop the ball when travelling. See how I dealt with it here.
Even though I have lived almost plastic free for years in my own home, somehow as soon as I break routine everything comes crumbling down. That is why for the past year I have been taking steps to decrease my waste and go Zero Waste when travelling! Honestly, it is also a Zero Buy, since I do not believe in buying more things when you are meant to be using and wasting less. So while there are many wonderful products targeted at zero wasters, I think what you can make at home from the overflowing amount of stuff is the best way!
Today, I am sharing my first installation of how to travel zero waste : airplane edition. So join me on my trip from Perth to Phnom Penh in the most zero waste way I can! Here are my top six tips to traveling by plane.
I have been excited to discover than now, several airlines and airports in the world allow you to check in online and use your phone to show an E-Ticket to board the plane! I therefore always encourage people to take this option if you can. It might just be one plane ticket, but its one less piece of single use paper out there!
On this trip however, despite checking in online, they still reprinted the same plane boarding pass and handed it to me. Damn, already lost my zero waste streak! To the next tip.
Bring your own food.
On many budget airlines, they only give you food if you ask and pay for it, so the better option is to prepare your own food! While Air Asia has signs everywhere saying that no outside food is allowed, I bring it anyway. I figure that if anyone challenges me, I will point out that none of their food is vegan. Hehe. So far, no steward or stewardess has mentioned anything to me. I have also created a list of snacks that are great airplane snacks.
Nuts are usually fuss free, give a large amount of energy and are easy to store in any reusable bag.
- Mandarins, Apples, pears, banana
WARNING : some countries do not allow you to bring food into their country, ie. Australia. So ensure you eat all of it before you land. When flying interstate in Australia, they are also extremely fussy about fruit. So make sure to eat it to spare you a hefty fine!
If you do not want to take any containers, like I didn’t, making sandwiches at home and then wrapping them in some sort of cloth, material or shirt. I cut up an old pair of shorts to create two cloth napkins, ideal for wiping your mouth or wrapping the remainder of your food.
- Reusable Containers
If the type of travel you are doing allows you space for reusable containers, I highly recommend in packing that into your carry on. This way you can have any food you want. Salad, potatoes, stirfry, fried rice or pasta ready for the flight! If you also want to cut up your fruit before hand, it also largely increases what type of fruit you can bring. This also means, that you must bring your own cutlery. Personally I have not yet found any cutlery or reusable containers that I would want to invest in, but these are a couple that I have been looking at : To Go Ware! In reality, I think I will wait until I stumble upon a set made locally at a market or something. There are is a huge selection available here.
Reusable Water Bottle
You must be sick and tired of hearing about the reusable bottle in various zero waste posts, however I was surprised to hear how many people did not realize you could bring your own water bottle onto a plane!! I understand that due to the liquid laws, the water bottle has to be empty, but most airports have stations where you can fill your bottle up with chilled water! If you are super ingenious, you can also bring a hot thermal bottle with a tea bag inside and fill it up at the hot water dispensers.
Or even, PRO TIP : The most budget of airlines will give you free hot water. Mostly because they cannot think of a reason to refuse. Thanks to Caitlin for showing me the way!
Now this is probably the biggest part of being zero waste, and that’s planning ahead. Just like if you want to eliminate plastic from your life at home you have to bring reusable bags, containers or pick the package free soaps. When travelling this suddenly expands to just about anything. Since I am flying to Cambodia during the rainy season, I had to consider these following things :
- Insect repellent
Insect repellent costs about 6$ per aerosol can and lasts about two days, making my own and bringing it along is a great way to save money. If you are curious about how I made a toxic free insect repellent : Check it out here!
- Hand Sanitiser
Since I already own hand sanitizer in Australia, why rebuy the same thing in Cambodia! Might as well just pack it in a smaller container and bring it along with me.
I am still getting the hang of the fact that you’re meant to change your toothbrush quite regularly. When I still used plastic toothbrushes I tried to hold onto them as long as possible to minimise waste. Now I use the Environmental Toothbrush which is Australian therefore has minimal shipping within Australia, is cheaper than most bamboo toothbrushes I have found and most importantly : is biodegradable. Check it out here.
Now this is another thing you do not want to have to rebuy if you already own it. On this trip, I took a leftover tube of toothpaste along with my zero waste toothpaste from Zero Waste Beauty Australia. My flavour of Eucalyptus and Lemon Myrtle is not the tastiest, however the clever packaging allows me to reuse the glass container when I am done with it!
- Bar of Soap and something to keep it in.
I finally figured out how to keep my hand soap in a zero waste manner (and a zero buy manner). I use the Qantas food bag I was provided on some earlier flight.
- Sunscreen (Make sure its reef friendly if you’re going diving or snorkelling!)
- Sewing Kit
- Several Versatile Reusable bags
In the video, I show all the different types of bags I own and the random places I got them from. Qantas meal, Singapore Airlines necessities pouch, hammock bag and a reusable bag I made myself. I highly recommend you check out one of my two videos on making bags out of clothes, it’s a quick and neat trick to eliminate an old shirt while gaining a handy bag.
Microfibre towel, shawl and or hankerchief.
Having some sort of material with you in your hand luggage always ends up being useful on a flight. Especially if it’s a long haul flight and you get cold like I do. I use my shawl/scarf/wrap thing as a blanket, an old pair of cut up shorts as a hanker chief to wipe up any spills and having a towel with you is always handy especially in a tropical destination.
Medication and Essentials
I also wanted to touch upon things like medication. Personally I am travelling to a remote location, so with me I am bringing a complete first aid kit. This has a variety of medications from painkillers, antibiotics, cold and flu and bandages. All of these things are individually wrapped, and single use. This is against the idea of Zero Waste! However, these things are vital to keep up my health and it needs to be said. Zero Waste does not truly mean zero waste, every living person creates waste wether they want to or not. It may be that bus ticket you bought, the credit card you lost, the textbook you needed, the calculator which broke or the drawing an excited child gave you. For me, going zero waste means being conscious of what you buy and use. It means you chose alternative options for overly packaged foods, clothes, you try buy second hand or remain happy with hand me downs.
Zero Waste is a journey, and thank you for joining me on it! We want to stop the plastic!
Note On Plane Waste :
A little bit of a side note on air plane food, through some research, I have found that many air planes have the exact number of meals as seats, and whether or not a person chose to eat their meal, the entire tray ends up in the trash. This raises the issue : would you eat it or just let it go straight to the trash? Some companies, such as British Airways, United Airlines, Virgin, Delta, Alaskan Airlines and Qantas are attempting to move towards recycling up to 70% of their waste.
Maybe by eating it you can take away any of the recyclable parts of the meal? Maybe that creates a little less food waste? Should people who try and be zero waste even fly?
All things to think about next time you are travelling. Thank you so much for taking the time to check out my top 6 tips to zero waste, hope you have learned something and I am excited to hear what ideas you have to decrease your waste!