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This summer, families will be touring their towns, states, country, and beyond to take advantage of lighter work schedules and summer break from school. While traveling is a great way to teach children about people, places, and things, it is also a great opportunity to teach children about the footprints they leave behind, and not just the ones in the sand. Check out these tips for zero waste travel, while empowering your children to take care of their environment and its inhabitants!
Cut Out Single-Use Plastic & Bring Your Own Food
Stopping at a fast-food restaurant or gas station to purchase lunch may be easier on your schedule, but the only ‘easy’ part of the process of buying a sandwich in a plastic case, or a soda with a plastic lid and straw, is the five seconds it’s going to take for you to eat it.
Plastic is a long-lasting and useful tool when used appropriately, but wrapping a sandwich does not require a long-lasting or sturdy material, especially when it is going to be tossed in the bin anyway. A bottle of water may come in handy while you are on-the-go, but did you know it takes an estimated 450 years for that ONE bottle to break down into microplastics? That 450 years does not mean that the bottle’s life is over, it just turns into a different type of plastic.
The earth cannot digest plastic, and our marine life and oceans are paying the price. If you want to aim for zero waste travel this summer, start by eliminating single use plastics from your packing and shopping lists.
By preparing and bringing your own food along on your excursions this summer, not only will you have more control over what you are fueling your body with, but you will also play a major role in the healing of our planet.
When it comes time to prepare and store your food, check out these alternatives to single use plastics:
1.Replace sandwich bags with reusable bags made from recycled materials, or biodegradable containers.
2. Prepare individual beverage containers for each person in your travel party.
3. Bring utensils from home, and do not use plastic cutlery! Or, if you don’t want to break up your at-home forks and knives, you can purchase green utensil sets. For example, bamboo utensil sets like these can replace single-use plastic utensils, and can be easily stored in a purse or bag.
4. Using collapsible food storage containers can save your travel space while saving the earth.
5. Disposable cups with straws are not the only beverage container that adds to the earth’s health issues. Sometimes, coffee cups are made from Styrofoam, another major environmental threat, and often have plastic lids. Before reaching for that cup of java at the airport or gas station, consider investing in a reusable insulated travel mug. Besides, some companies charge less for a refill, so it’s a win-win!
Zero Waste Travel Toiletries
Zero waste does not stop at the sandwich bags and water bottles, but it carries over into your daily hygiene products as well.
To begin a zero waste mindset when it comes to your daily hygiene products, consider how much of each item you actually use on a daily basis. Many shampoo and conditioner bottles have enough product to last anywhere between two weeks and a month, depending on your hair care routine, and 3 ounces of gel? That’s more than enough for a quick trip to Grandma’s house!
Check out these zero waste travel toiletry ideas to achieve green travel goals this summer.
6. Bring a bar of soap instead of body wash. It’s 2019, and bar soap has come a long way since Ralphie had to hold it in his mouth after saying “fudge”. Wrap it in a cloth and store it, and you’re ready to go. Plus, you won’t have to worry about any liquids spilling into your luggage!
Plus, if you have time to experiment in order to find the right bar, some bar soaps can double as a shampoo.
7. Ladies, instead of worrying about leaks or tampons while traveling, it may be time to try something new. Menstrual cups are not exactly what we learned about in middle school health class, but they have gained momentum as a more comfortable and greener approach to periods.
8. If you are susceptible to regional or seasonal allergies, you may end up going through quite a few facial tissues. Bring along some handkerchiefs instead of using packs of tissues to save green and go green, too!
9. Mouthwash contains ingredients that cannot be swallowed, so why should we be spitting it down our drains or into our earth? If you want to make sure your zero waste travel is serious, then consider making a batch of home-made antibacterial mouthwash. Not only will you know exactly what went into it, but you will be keeping harmful chemicals out of your family’s bodies and out of the earth, too.
10. Going au-naturale does not mean you have to smell like the wild. There are several deodorants on the market that do not contain harmful chemicals, and whose packaging is biodegradable, like this one. Or, if you would like to kick deodorant to the curb once and for all, the salt crystal may be for you. Proven to be effective in neutralizing unpleasant odors, salt crystals can last for years before they need to be replaced, and they are completely natural.
Other Zero Waste Travel Considerations
- If your family is taking a road trip this summer, consider planning out gas stops ahead of time. Not only will this help your vehicle’s fuel economy, but this will also aid in scheduling zero waste travel meal time.
- If you are flying, carry an empty, refillable water bottle onto the plane, as well as a reusable hot-beverage cup. This will save money, and eliminate the need for single-use plastics, and empty containers can make it through security at the gate.
- Shopping trips often mean LOTS of extra bags and extra waste. Take along small, rolled-up canvas bags (or reusable shopping bags) and deny the plastic bag at check out.
- An empty mason jar has SO MANY uses! In a pinch, it can work as a trash bin. It can be used as a beverage container, or it can even hold leftovers instead of taking home plastic or Styrofoam containers. It is washable, sturdy, and it can close tightly.
Travel is not always easy, and traveling with children has its own league of challenges. Add in a goal of zero waste travel and it can seem daunting. With a little preparation, along with mindfulness of your family’s needs and schedule, going green during summer travels is not only a possibility, but it can even help lessen the stress of summer adventures. Less stress + less waste = more quality time with the family, and that is priceless.
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