Travelling is an amazing, exciting, and thrilling experience. We learn so much about ourselves along the way. Sadly, our travels can lead us to fall into bad habits and choose familiar convenience over conscious sustainability. There are many things we can do to reduce our environmental impact and still travel with style. Let’s cover the basics.
Just because you’re travelling, it doesn’t mean you need sacrifice your skin care, in fact the opposite is true. My skin care essentials are eye cream, face oil, moisturiser and sunscreen. My guess is that you’ve worked hard to figure out your own perfect skin care essentials. There’s no reason to leave these behind.
While it may be tempting to purchase travel-size products for your trip, it’s better to stick to the products that work for your skin. After all, you’ve spent time and money discovering these are your favourites. Siphon your daily necessities into eco-friendly bottles and tubs and re-use them each time you travel. This way you’ll reduce space and reduce the waste of buying ‘cheaper’ alternatives simply due to size.
I even take a little of my favourite face mask, May Lindstrom’s The Problem Solver with me on my travels. This powder face mask is very easy to travel with, place a small amount into a travel sized container and when its time to pamper yourself, mix it with equal parts water and have a DIY spa night. There is no better time to relax and indulge in your favourite face mask then when on holiday; after all, your skin may be in need of some TLC post-flight.
As an alternative to using disposable make up wipes, use an oil cleanser and reusable face cloth to remove make up and impurities. Simply run your face cloth under hot water and wring it out to naturally cleanse your face. Muslin cloths are my favourite and are very easy to clean while travelling. Just use a small amount of your shampoo or hotel soap, wash, and hang it up to dry ready for the next use.
Skin care is very important while in transit on the plane. Instead of layering moisturiser to fight off the infamous low humidity at 40,000 feet, dampen your face cloth under hot water and refresh your face, apply a face oil followed by your usual moisturising routine. This will help to prevent blocked pores and breakouts later on and help you to feel clean during your flight. Do this every 2-3 hours if you’re on a long haul, and notice the difference in how you look and feel!
Many full-service airlines provide disposable cotton towels in their bathrooms for all classes, while others only offer this in their Business and First Class bathrooms. Unfortunately, these cotton towels do not get washed or recycled, and produce excess waste. Instead of using these, be eco-conscious by bringing your own face cloth in your carry-on luggage. By placing it in a snap lock bag, once damp, it can be kept away from the rest of your carry on items.
You’ll need to bring along body wash and, depending on the length of your trip, shampoo and conditioner too. Often the go-to response is to purchase travel sized products or rely on hotel amenities which all contribute to increasing waste produced while travelling.
Consider buying an all-in-one cleanser for travel, such as Dr Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap. Alternatively, a solid soap can triple-up as a shampoo, conditioner and body soap in one. It creates less waste as you can bring back any remaining product and, with no risk of leakages, it’s much easier to pack. Just wait a little for the product to dry, pop it in a tin or snap-lock bag and you’re good to go!
Staying hydrated should be a daily goal and is more important while you’re travelling. Bacteria and dehydration can spoil an otherwise perfect holiday. Do some research and find out whether the tap water is drinkable at your destination and any stopovers. Bring a quality reusable bottle with you and fill up at the tap each time you’re going out to avoid purchasing plastic water bottles which are not only wasteful but often laden with toxins such as BPA, when you’re out and about.
Where tap water is not drinkable you can still do you part to reduce your plastic waste. Buy a 5L bottle of water at the local supermarket or convenience store and fill up your smaller re-usable bottle before you go out. This way you’ll be creating less plastic waste and save some money too.
Water poisoning often catches people during their stopovers, not their destination. The reason is simple: you research your destination but not always your stopover. You’ll also be tired and susceptible to illness after a long-haul flight (due to a weakened immune system) so be careful not to accept the kind offer of water from your first non-plane meal. Be aware of any water or ice in your drinks before you consume them.
Of course, there will be times where bottled water can’t be avoided. In these cases opt for buying a bottle you can reuse a few times before needing to recycle, or a bottle that is biodegradable. Glass bottles tend to be the safest for refilling.
Take note of the recycle symbol on bottles, plastics, tins, and glass products. If you see coloured bins, make it a game to figure out the language (or symbols) and recycle as necessary.
Bring a tote
Pack a tote or eco-bag and take it with you when you go shopping. Refuse plastic bags and place your purchases in your own bag and re-use each time you’re out. You’ll be surprised how many shopping bags we collect without noticing. While it might be possible to recycle these bags as garbage at home, it’s much more difficult to find a second use for these plastic bags while travelling.
Also, ask the cashier not to print your receipt unless it’s an expensive item that has a risk of malfunctioning, or if you might need proof for a travel insurance claim. An easy tip to remember is that you never want a receipt for anything consumable that you would never need to return (think coffee, food, etc). If you are travelling on business, take a photo of the receipt as soon as possible to store it in your expense system and recycle the paper.
Saving paper is easier than ever in our digital age:
- Check-in to your flight in advance and keep your boarding pass on your phone or tablet ready to go.
- Scan or take a photo of all of your travel documents (copy of your Passport, Visa, booking confirmations, Travel Insurance, etc.) and save as an offline electronic folder (e.g. Dropbox) in case of emergencies.
- Ask to have receipts to be emailed to you and refuse paper copies wherever possible (e.g. Hotel Receipts).
There are so many small things you can do to reduce your carbon emissions:
- Turn off the lights, air conditioning, fans or heaters when you’re not in the room.
- Set air conditioners a few degrees higher and heaters a few degrees lower to prevent appliances working as hard - the last few degrees consume more than half of the energy used!
- Try your best to do a full load of laundry and if you’re in a warmer climate, hang your clothes out to dry instead of using the dryer - its better for your clothes anyway!
- Changing towels and sheets in hotel rooms uses up approximately 40% of the hotel’s hot water consumption. Do as you would if you were still at home and ask housekeeping to skip a day or two in between changes.
Look into public transport at your destination in your planning phase. Note the bus, train, and ferry systems available and where (and how) you can purchase tickets conveniently to get around. If possible, avoid using private transportation for shorter trips - every little bit helps! Some countries have Uber Pool and Grab Share - two options for sharing a ride with someone else. You’ll save a few dollars but reduce two cars that would otherwise be half-full.
Road trips are a lot of fun while travelling. They give you an opportunity to see parts of the world otherwise unseen by most tourists. Choose an environmentally friendly car where you’ll get more kilometres from the same tank of petrol. Better yet, try out an electric car and make it an adventure!
Two great car hire options are Toyota Prius or Camry hybrid. For an all electric options try the Nissan Leaf.
We’re all still learning and getting better at having a positive environmental impact. These are just some easy ways to bring sustainable travelling onboard with you as you set off on your adventure.