12 Simple Ways to Reduce Plastic Whilst Travelling

“There are so many sequences that every single one of us have been involved in, even in the most peripheral way, where we have seen tragedies happen because of the plastic in the ocean,”

-David Attenborough

Photo by Dustin Haney on Unsplash

When I went to see seals on the coast of England this winter, I was disappointed by the amount of plastic around, even in the part fenced off to humans. The BBC’s Blue Planet 2 highlighted the impact which plastic is having on the ocean (it’s seriously worth a watch). For me, there was no scene more heartbreaking than the whale and it’s calf. The mother was carrying around her dead calf long after it died. It was believed to be poisoned by her plastic-polluted milk.

It seems like our oceans are slowly turning into a plastic smoothie. You only need to watch the video of a straw being removed from a turtle to get a glimpse of the damage it’s causing to wildlife. There are 150 million tonnes of plastic estimated to be in the ocean. It doesn’t biodegrade, it just breaks up into tiny particles which the fish mistake for food. It ends up in their diet, and the fish who eat them, and even ends up in the seafood people eat.

With plastic pollution becoming a hot issue, I wanted to write a post to challenge you to cut down on plastic whilst you travel. It’s not always easy to cut down on plastic pollution. There are still some things I am working on myself but, as the saying goes, every little helps and I’ve listed some simple ways you can do so below.

It may not be possible to do them all, but on your next trip, why not try a couple?

1. Shampoo and Conditioning Bars

Someone washing their hair

Photo by Seth Doyle on Unsplash

Rather than taking liquid toiletries in plastic bottles, many of them can be bought in solid form. I buy shampoo and conditioner bars from Lush and they smell INCREDIBLE. I keep them in a metal container which can be cleaned and replaced with another bar once finished with. You can also buy deodorant bars.

2. Clothes

Shoes and clothes

Photo by Vanessa Serpas on Unsplash

When an online shopping order arrived last week, I was disappointed to find each item wrapped in an individual bag. The shoes even had a hanger… why?! (I tweeted and emailed the company to share my disappointment). I’m now going to try and make sure my clothes are from companies that use as little plastic as possible. One which I’ve just ordered from is Batoko, a swimwear brand based in England. The swimwear they create is 100% recycled from plastic bottles and other plastic waste and the designs are beautiful!.

3. Toothbrushes

A pink toothbrush

So many plastic toothbrushes are wasted each year, 1 billion, to be exact, in the US (I’m not sure about the UK figure). I buy bamboo toothbrushes and the great thing about them is, once they’re finished with, they can be buried/thrown in the garden where they’ll biodegrade.

4. Beach Clean

Waves crashing against the sand

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

If visiting a beach, why not take your own bag and pick up some plastic? Anything we can do to prevent plastic entering the ocean can surely make a difference. My friend, Lani, did a solo beach clean in Southend and encountered many other people doing the same thing! See her video to find out more about it here.

5. Straws

Smoothie and a straw

Photo by Osha Key on Unsplash

Like plastic toothbrushes, the amount of straws wasted is atrocious. You only have to watch the video of a straw being removed from a turtle (also mentioned above) to understand how severe the problem is. Try carrying around a bamboo or metal straw and reusing it. If you decide you don’t want your bamboo straw anymore, it can be thrown into the wilderness where it will eventually biodegrade. Another tip is to learn how to say ‘no straws please’ in the local language to avoid your drinks coming out with plastic straws.

6. Cutlery

A table with a plate and vase

Photo by Stella de Smit on Unsplash

Okay, so you must think that I’m obsessed with bamboo by now (maybe I am, it grows back so quickly!). My friend Lani, who I mentioned above, bought me a bamboo spork and now it’s going to come on every trip with me. No more plastic, throw-away cutlery and it’s so cute too!

7. Bags

A girl holding a bag

Photo by Soragrit Wongsa on Unsplash

If you take your own canvas bags, you can use these at local shops rather than taking away a plastic carrier bag. In the UK, you now have to pay 5p for a bag which encourages people to bring their own shopping bags but they don’t do this in many other countries to my knowledge.

8. Research Accommodation

Inside a hotel room

Photo by Man Pan on Unsplash

Rather than going for the best deal you can find, doing a bit of research into how hotels reduce their plastic use could make a big difference. One thing to question is whether they use single-use plastics during their breakfasts. Something else to look out for is accommodation that recycles, sources local ingredients and refills their shampoos rather than providing mini ones for each room. There are also more and more eco-hotels popping up now which are worth considering.

9. Water Bottle

Using a reusable water bottle

Photo by Kate Joie on Unsplash

Research whether the water is drinkable (as in, you can drink it without making yourself sick). If so then you can fill up your bottle each day without needing to buy drinks in plastic bottles. If the water is not drinkable and you only want to drink mineral water, buy the biggest bottle you can from a local shop and use that to fill up your own water bottle. Another thing I do is boil tap water in the room and refill my bottle with that once it’s cool.

10. Bottle Tops

Plastic bottle on a table

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

If you do end up buying plastic bottles whilst you’re away, or you see someone else drinking one, save the bottle top to take home with you. Lush (this is NOT a sponsored post!) have a scheme where you can take in bottle tops (e.g. milk, coke) which you have saved and they will melt them down to reuse for their surfaces. I collect them at my school and have already saved 4 large bags of bottle tops.

11. Security Bags

A plane in an airport

Photo by Marcus Zymmer on Unsplash

Most airports ask us to put our liquids in a small plastic bag. I have a plastic bag which I reuse every time whilst going through security rather than picking up a new one each time.

12. Take Action

Girl jumping in the sunset

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

As well as changing your own behaviour, you can also spread the message both online and in person. There are many social media campaigns like #plasticfree and #fortheoceans. There’s also the hashtag: #uselessplastic for if your disappointed with a particular company’s use of plastic. I used this for when I was disappointed with my online shopping delivery and I also emailed the company.

There you have it. I’d love to hear the of any other ways we can reduce plastic whilst travelling in the comments.

Be a part of the solution, not the pollution.

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18 Comments

  1. May 5, 2018 / 7:48 am

    A topic close to my heart. I once traveled to a remote peninsula in Costa Rica to see some wildlife and I was disturbed by the amount of plastic brought in by the surf and washed up on the otherwise pristine beach.

    If nothing else, as travelers we should not be contributing to the amount of plastic that litters the world. Thanks for the Lush tip! I love the brand, but never heard about their bottle top collecting campaign.

    • May 5, 2018 / 12:17 pm

      Same!!! My wake-up call was in Nicaragua, where I learnt how bad plastic can damage turtles (I will link a blog post about it on my name in case you’re interested because I think it’s quite similar to this one, minus all the amazing advise). I had always been aware plastic is bad but I never had such an urge to REDUCE as I had there. I’m not looking back, I now always try to buy package free things, use a bamboo toothbrush and a metal bottle and I’m trying to make as many lifestyle changes as I can to protect the planet.
      Thank you Tasha for this awesome post!! ♥♥

      • tashasoyster
        Author
        May 20, 2018 / 11:03 am

        Alba I’d love to see your post about how plastic damages turtles. YES for bamboo toothbrushes and reusable bottles! I’m the same. I also question any company that uses too much plastic. Thanks so much! 😀

    • tashasoyster
      Author
      May 20, 2018 / 11:01 am

      It’s such a shock to see the impact we are having on wildlife but also important that we do. Thank you, glad you found it helpful 🙂

  2. May 5, 2018 / 8:12 am

    Loved reading your article. Pollution is a serious concern and i feel so sad everytime i sea heaps of garbage.thanks for sharing the tips atleast we can make little contribution from our side.

    • tashasoyster
      Author
      May 20, 2018 / 11:04 am

      Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. I do too, going to try and take part in some organised beach cleans in future.

  3. May 5, 2018 / 3:25 pm

    Great article – I already use shampoo bars from Lush, but I was unaware that there were deodorant bars too! I’m proud to say that I also re-use the plastic security bag – I saw a poster in Italy which detailed just how long plastic takes to degrade, and it was staggering. It’s definitely something we should all be more aware of!

    • tashasoyster
      Author
      May 20, 2018 / 11:05 am

      I use the sunflower deodorant and it’s great. I tend to keep it in an airtight container or it can go hard. I’m glad the awareness for plastic pollution is spreading 🙂

  4. May 5, 2018 / 6:27 pm

    That’s such an important topic! I love the idea of a bamboo toothbrush, can you recommend any? I also have a bamboo straw that I brought back from Indonesia but my only concern is the way of properly cleaning it, as I often drink thick juice/veggie smoothies. For now I just don’t use straws at all 😉

    • tashasoyster
      Author
      May 20, 2018 / 11:07 am

      I agree about it being an important topic. I bought a pack of bamboo toothbrushes from Amazon so I’d recommend those 🙂 I also bought my bamboo straws from there. I like drinking fruit juice and smoothies through a straw.

  5. May 6, 2018 / 2:58 am

    SO glad you’re talking about this! Been trying to use less plastic. Thanks a lot! Definitely sharing this. Everyone should know about these things and plastic’s consequences.

    • tashasoyster
      Author
      May 20, 2018 / 11:07 am

      Thanks so much for sharing 🙂 I agree, plastic pollution is such an important topic and many people are unaware of the damage it can do.

  6. May 6, 2018 / 4:52 am

    Plastic waste is certainly an issue that needs to be resolved now. Thank you for sharing these helpful suggestions. I love LUSH and will need to start buying the shampoo and conditioner from them now. We have been fortunate to stay at some eco-friendly hotels recently that have truly been trying to help reduce waste. One hotel we stayed at in Dublin did not give me a to go cup for my coffee because they did not want to give out plastic cups. Absolutely love the initiative from you and others.

    • tashasoyster
      Author
      May 20, 2018 / 11:09 am

      I agree that it needs to be resolved now. I also love LUSH! And I love the effort they make to reuse and recycle things. I’d love to know more about your eco-hotel!

  7. May 6, 2018 / 7:12 am

    Lovely article and great bit of advice about the bottle tops for Lush, something I never knew! As a Dive Instructor it pains me to see all the plastic in the ocean everyday, I hope people will become more aware!

    • tashasoyster
      Author
      May 20, 2018 / 11:10 am

      I bet you see loads of plastic each time you dive! Such a shame. Fingers crossed things improve soon.

  8. May 10, 2018 / 5:31 am

    This article is related to everyone, whether interested or not but you will have to read once this article and follow the rules so our nature will return gift to us. Thanks for sharing about reduce plastic while traveling. I will share this post to everyone.

    • tashasoyster
      Author
      May 20, 2018 / 11:11 am

      Thanks so much for sharing 🙂 hopefully more people will start to take action.

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