Last Updated June 4, 2020 6/4/2020

10 Clever Ways to Reduce Waste While Traveling

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As those who wanderlust, we have an obligation to preserve the magic of each place we venture to or to inspire change for the better. The crystal clear lakes of Idaho, the pristine forests of Oregon, Maine’s turquoise waters laden with puffins and otters—simple steps can ensure these beautiful parts of the world are kept intact, as nature intended. What may seem like a small thing to us, is actually a big deal to the environment. Keep reading for tips on reducing waste when jetting off to your next destination. Let this be your inspiration, and continue coming up with your own ideas to travel responsibly.


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Get a Reusable Water Bottle Water Refill Station
Water Refill Station

Get a Reusable Water Bottle

One small but meaningful way to be an eco-tourist is to bring your own reusable water bottle. You can carry it through airport security while empty, then find a fill station. That’s around three dollars per bottle of water you would have purchased, which later would have ended up in the trash as well. An aluminum water bottle keeps on giving throughout the trip while keeping all of those plastic bottles out of landfills. Cities and parks are progressing rapidly, with many offering fill stations for convenience and environmental preservation.

Make Small Habit Changes at Hotels Hotel

Make Small Habit Changes at Hotels

You’ve seen the little cards in hotel bathrooms—please reuse your towels and use your sheets for a few days. It’s easy, and a big water and energy saver for hotels.  Kind of keep the same mentality when it comes to turning off lights, or making showers short and sweet. Some hotels have put other practices into place, like light switches that require a key card to be activated—so when you leave and take your key, the lights go out.

Reduce One Use Plastic shampoo, conditioner, lotion
shampoo, conditioner, lotion

Reduce One Use Plastic

Bring along reusable bottles filled with lotion and shampoo, and notify staff that those little courtesy bottles aren’t necessary. However, many states are banning single-use plastics anyway, especially these wee little bottles. New York alone estimates going through a staggering 27 million bottles in the hotel industry yearly, so they are one of the states making new initiatives. A lot of big chains and boutique hotels have switched to larger pump bottles of conditioner, shampoo and body wash fixed onto the shower wall. You can also purchase your own eco-friendly hygiene products.

Bring Totes Woman with a a reusable tote.
Woman with a a reusable tote.

Bring Totes

Shopping is an exciting part of exploring a new city. But if only purchasing a thing or two, skip the bag at check out, especially if single-use plastic. Bring a reusable tote, or buy one there to continue using at home. While on the shopping note, try to hit up local, homegrown joints that fuel the actual community rather than a big corporation. You’ll end up with things that are a bit more authentic, typically.

Skip To Go Packaging Cup of Coffee
Cup of Coffee

Skip To Go Packaging

Trying out that adorable coffee cafe down the street is a must. Take a little time and slow down—enjoy your java in a reusable mug instead of a to-go cup. Sure, dishes have to be washed, but less trash is a good thing. Less takeout, in general, also means less plastic utensils, napkins and forest stripping wooden chopsticks.

Visit Eco Friendly Restaurants Upbeet in Atlanta, Georgia
Credit: Upbeet
Upbeet in Atlanta, Georgia

Visit Eco Friendly Restaurants

Opt for restaurants that compost excess waste. Yeah Burger and Upbeet in Atlanta both have instructions as to what goes into compost bins and recycling. Bittercreek Ale House in Boise uses a unique method called vermiculture, where worms actually work to compost, right downstairs in the basement of the restaurant. It’s extremely efficient and likely to take off at many more establishments.

Skip the Car Bike Rental
Bike Rental

Skip the Car

Some destinations are extremely walkable or have great public transportation, which reduces emissions waste that could damage the environment. Boise has a walking path that runs parallel to the river, passing by restaurants, wineries and breweries. Cyclists and those on foot are welcome to use the scenic resource. Atlanta features something similar, called the Beltline, which connects major parts of the city.

Be Mindful of Waste toothpaste

Be Mindful of Waste

Anything you bring along that might be disposed of needs to be selected with special consideration. Choose items with compostable or sustainable packaging. Opt for no waste floss made from silk. Amazon sells variations that come with refillable glass containers, so that little plastic spools never end up being tossed.

Pack Less business traveler
business traveler

Pack Less

Packing minimal clothing means less to wash while on your adventure. Less washing means more water and energy saved. Get creative and use layering techniques to come up with several styles. Stay consistent with clothes worn when hiking or doing anything outside, so the other things you bring can stay fresh, and available for use multiple times. Need more tips? Check out our guide on how to pack like a pro.

Go Digital

Go Digital

One could argue an iPhone itself isn’t that “sustainable”, although there is some talk that the brand plans to start developing products with 100% renewable energy sometime soon. Regardless, loads of waste and paper can be saved by opting not to print boarding passes, event tickets, or other like things. Most big platforms, like Delta and Ticketmaster, allow customers to download a code to be scanned at the time of entry or check-in.

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