Break out your luggage and let a giant smile spread across your face. You are going on vacation! Now for the fun (and daunting) part: packing your bag for the adventure of a lifetime. Follow our motto at Ecophiles – and travel far, travel light with these eco-friendly packing tips.
Many travel writers and industry professionals have tackled packing. Hop over to YouTube and you’ll find a host of videos on what and how to pack for a trip. Many of these guides miss the impact of what you pack, has on the destination you are traveling to. Being a responsible traveler and minimizing your carbon footprint starts long before you hand the airline steward your ticket. It often begins with researching and booking accommodations, activities, and experiences that incorporate sustainable principles. It also extends to what you pack.
If you are looking to be a conscious traveler and aren’t sure where to start, here are a few key suggestions for packing for a more eco-friendly trip.
The weight and amount of luggage you bring on a flight contributes to the overall weight of the plane and how much fuel it will burn, which in turn impacts the amount of CO2 emitted. Packing a smaller bag curbs the emissions output and will also make your life easier when carrying it around.
Consider how much you really need to bring and what you might be able to purchase upon your arrival. Plot out outfits you can mix and match ahead of time to keep your wardrobe to a minimum. Use packing cubes and reusable bottles for toiletries to help compartmentalize your belongings and create more space. You’ll probably be bringing a ton of goodies back for your friends and family, so make sure that you have enough room ahead of time to ensure that you won’t have to buy a second bag for the return trip.
Stay Hydrated With A Reusable Water Bottle
There are many benefits to bringing a water bottle with you on a trip. Cutting back on buying plastic water bottles is undoubtedly good for the environment. It’s also good for your wallet! Sure, it might only be a few dollars here and there but it adds up. You could use the money towards a meaningful experience, a unique souvenir, or a nice meal.
Drinking a lot of water also helps fight jet lag and fatigue, and carrying a reusable water bottle encourages more water consumption. If you are worried about the space and weight a bottle might take up, we recommend a collapsible bottle like this one from Vapur. Going somewhere where there might not be access to clean water? LifeStraw and Grayl have filtration water bottles that filter out bacteria and sediment.
Charge Up With Solar
It wasn’t long ago that we had to carry a crazy amount of cords to charge all of our electronics. Luckily, solar power has made charging devices much more streamlined. While not a perfect solution for giving your gadgets an energy boost, solar powered chargers can be really useful on long outdoor adventures where there’s no access to outlets. They also work well for daytime charging and short term needs.
Bring Bamboo Utensils
Grabbing food on the go? Instead of reaching for the plastic fork or spoon, bring reusable utensils. We recommend a set of Bamboo utensils like this one from To-Go Ware, which is 100% biodegradable. It comes with a fork, spoon, knife, and even chopsticks! The set comes with a carabiner that easily clips onto a backpack or daysack.
Wear Ethically-Made Clothing
Fast fashion is one of the largest industries in the world and, in turn, one of the biggest causes of pollution. Heavy-metal dyes from clothing often end up in rivers in Southeast Asia, where many factories are located. Large amounts of unused textiles and fabrics end up in landfills across the world.
Fast Fashion is also notorious for poor labour conditions, especially in developing nations. Purchasing clothing that is made from sustainable materials and/or made under ethical working conditions challenges the demand for fast fashion. The price of sustainably made clothing may at first seem high for some. However, these items last longer than many you would buy from a chain store. Consider buying gently-used clothing from consignment store if you can’t afford the alternative. Or even if you can! It’s a good idea to buy second-hand regardless since it cuts down consumption and reusing is even better than recycling.
Carry a Daypack or Tote
Buying groceries, souvenirs, or clothing while traveling? Take a day tote or backpack with you. Not only will it make your life easier by carrying all your purchases in one place, it makes saying no to a plastic bag a no-brainer. Plastic bags are one of the biggest culprits of ocean pollution. According to 1Bag at a Time, they are a source of dioxin and contribute to polluting our food chain. Eliminating litter is expensive, too. In the United States alone, it can cost up to $11 billion a year to clean up. One of those eco-friendly packing tips that makes a real impact.
Try eco-friendly toiletries
Remember those bamboo utensils we suggested? Why stop there? Bring a biodegradable, Bamboo Toothbrush, too! Purchasing eco-friendly toiletries is easier now than ever before. Many companies have started to sell organic and eco-conscious products. For example, Lush carries shampoo bars, soaps, lotions, and more that are organic and are 100% vegetarian.
Pack & Wear Reef-Safe Sunscreen
Ah, the ocean. Spending time in or near it can make us feel calmer and more creative! If we want to continue to enjoy the ocean, we have to respect and take care of it. Many of the ways we’ve already listed contribute to cleaner waters. Wearing bio-degradable and reef-safe sunscreen is another stellar way to have a more eco-friendly vacation. Between four and six thousand metric tons of sunscreen enter the ocean every year. Most brand name sunscreens carry chemicals that bleach coral reefs. You can tell if a product is reef-safe if it has zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in it. Avoid sunscreen that has active ingredients like paraben and
Bring your Favorite Stories Along on an Electronic Reading Device
It’s sad to say, but it’s time to say goodbye to the paperback book. We love a good book and the feeling of holding one in our hands, too. But it’s not a very eco-friendly way to travel. They take up space, are often heavy, and ultimately aren’t made in an eco-friendly way. Invest in a Kindle or other electronic reading device so that you can enjoy many books in one place.
Pack Outfits According to the Places You’re Visiting and Local Custom
How we dress is one of the oldest forms of self-expression. It often indicates what culture, sub-group, or gender we identify with. Different cultures take great pride in their clothing habits and it can be seen as rude and disrespectful if one disregards the local dress and customs. Unfortunately, it can even be dangerous for female travelers to wear revealing clothing in certain cultures. While dressing appropriately doesn’t have a direct impact on the environment, it fosters good-will between cultures and creates a more respect.
We hope these packing tips are useful! Happy travels.