July 12, 2023

Is zero waste travel an impossible dream?

Is zero waste travel an impossible dream?

Being able to travel the world is a big dream for many of us.  We want to jet off and see amazing places, but do we have to abandon our zero-waste lifestyle to do so?

When you think about travelling, you might think about all those tiny containers of shampoo or the many bottles of water you are going to need to buy.  But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways around the difficulties.

Zero-waste travel, or something very close to it, is achievable with some preparation and planning.  However, you might have to be prepared to make some changes.

What makes zero waste travelling a challenge?

There are many elements to consider when travelling.  You must think about how much luggage you can take, what you are going to need in whatever countries you are going to and the experiences you want to have.

In many parts of the world there is not the same drive to reduce waste.  They may have limited facilities for waste management or be largely dependent on plastics still or both.

Language barriers can add further challenge.  Do you know how to say, “No straw please!” in ANY other language?

On top of that, what do you do if you have no other choices?  Water is the best example of this.  If you can’t drink tap water what do you do other than buy bottled water in plastic bottles?

How to avoid waste when travelling

Planning and preparation are your biggest weapons in the fight against waste and they will work for you when travelling too.

Before you leave, think about all the different ways that waste creeps into your life back home and write a list of the steps you can take when away to reduce this.

Items you can take to minimise waste

To help you, here are a list of items that you can take with you on your travels to help maintain your zero-waste lifestyle:

Shopping bag

Many countries around the world are reducing the distribution of plastic bags.  Therefore, it makes sense for you to take a tote bag for all your purchases.

Water bottle

If the tap water where you are going is drinkable, then you can easily fill up a water bottle to take out with you instead.

Even if you can’t drink tap water, it will be less wasteful to buy bigger containers of water and pour them in your bottle than to buy smaller ones on the go.

Shampoo bars

I recommend using shampoo bars anyway as they are a great zero waste solution for looking after your hair.  In addition to this they are the perfect accompaniment to your travels.

Without any of the plastic waste that comes with normal shampoo this is a simple switch.  Plus, you can take it through airports without the restrictions you would have with liquids.

Bar soap

As with shampoo, there are many great body wash and face washing options available in bar form.  Made from wonderful natural ingredients, you’ll be reducing the number of toxic products that you use on your body as well as reducing your waste.


Taking your own bamboo or reusable cutlery with you is a fantastic way to avoid waste when purchasing food.  Eating around the world is a big part of the travelling experience but many times they come with disposable plastic cutlery.  Take your own and avoid this problem.

 Bamboo is also lightweight making it the perfect choice for a reusable cutlery set.  Purchase yourself a beautiful set and take it with you when you head out.

Bamboo is a fantastically sustainable material.  It grows rapidly and is produced with small amounts of water, no pesticides and absorbs huge amounts of carbon dioxide in the process.

Bamboo toothbrushes

Not a zero-waste suggestion but a far more sustainable option than the alternatives.  Bamboo toothbrushes are far better for the environment and they’re light too.

Food container

One way to avoid food packaging is to take some containers with you.  You can use these for buying fresh produce (head to the markets rather than the shops) or for putting your takeaway food in.

They are also great for preventing food waste as you can use them for storing leftover food.  You’ll be able to save last night’s street food and turn it into tomorrow’s lunch.

Water purifiers

You have several options here if you want to be able to drink tap water as you travel.  Do your research and find the best option for you.

Whatever you choose, this is going to be a great way to reduce your reliance on bottled water whilst remaining healthy.

Moon cup

A menstrual cup is a brilliant zero waste product, but also a must-have for any menstruating person on the road.  No waste and no hunting for tampons in the middle of the night.

Zero-waste travel is possible

It might be challenging but it is possible to travel far and wide without generating lots of waste.  Think ahead, find solutions and take those reusables on the road.

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