Plastic-Free Travel: 5 Easy Ways To Travel Mindfully
It’s a well-known fact that going on holiday means switching off. Ok maybe not from our phones these days (how else would we showcase our #hotdoglegs to the world?!) but it’s certainly a good excuse to put our brains into sleep mode.
For most of us, visiting another country is the break we give ourselves from the ‘real world’ and all its problems, a time where we can treat ourselves to a week or two of blissfully unaware self-indulgence. Therefore, the phrase ‘mindful travel’ is one that can bring forth a certain amount of fear and even guilt. We all care about the world - of course we do! But we want to spend our holiday making life as easy as possible for ourselves, don’t we?
Well I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be scary or difficult. Making one or two tiny changes in our backpack or suitcase can mean a huge difference to the planet. It might sound over-dramatic but it’s completely true.
Plus, who wouldn’t want to come home not only well-rested, but happy and smug in the knowledge that they’ve done something good for the world? I certainly would.
With all of this in mind, here are my five easy ways to travel mindfully:
1. Invest in a re-usable water bottle
We’re all aware by now about the devastating effect that plastic waste is having on our oceans. Typically, a plastic bottle will take about 450 years to decompose. Yowza. Keeping hydrated is important; especially when we’re lounging in the sun all day or out and about adventuring in a hot country, but this doesn’t mean we have to buy a plastic bottle of water every few hours. Investing in a re-usable water bottle to pop in your day bag is the easiest way to be a mindful traveller with minimum effort. Even if you’re in a country where tap water is a no-go, most hotels/hostels will either have a water cooler or will top your bottle up for you in the kitchen. Plus, you can spend all the money you save on an extra cocktail! (straw free of course)
2. Bring a couple of foldaway shopping bags
You know the ones - they fold up into themselves or into their own little bag. You can get these beauties everywhere now and they’re small and light enough that they will hardly make a dent in your packing space OR weight allowance. Although we may not be food shopping on holiday, browsing a market in another country for gifts or souvenirs is the best sort of retail therapy. That is until our beautiful new purchase is thrust into a plastic bag. Did you know that 160,000 plastic bags are used around the world every single SECOND? Just think for a moment about how huge that number is. But the good news is we don’t need to be a part of this statistic with our gorgeous little re-usable shopping bags, and we can buy our fridge magnets and ornaments in the happy knowledge that we’ve kept another bag out of the ocean.
3. Lather up!
Hands up who gets a little thrill out of teeny travel toiletries? Ok so do I, but you know what gives me a bigger thrill? Not using them! I know - wild, but honestly these tiny bottles of shower gel and shampoo will be used a couple of times then chucked away which is such a waste and so unnecessary. However, there’s a lot to be said for the good old bar of soap. Waste free (if you buy one in a cardboard package) and it lasts for ages. You can buy handy little travel tins online or on the high street that a generic bar of soap will comfortably fit into.
If you want to really go for it, shampoo and conditioner bars are increasing in popularity and although take a bit of getting used to, work an absolute treat!
4. Don’t be a sucker
Plastic straws - the nemesis of the eco conscious traveller. They are the 8th most found ocean trash and once you start looking, you’ll notice they are EVERYWHERE. A lot of companies are now pledging to get rid of plastic straws and many have already replaced them with alternatives made of paper or bamboo. We can go one further though and arrive at our destination armed with our secret weapon - our own portable metal straw! These are easily obtainable and most come with a little brush to clean the inside with. I can vouch for the fact that saying ‘no straw please’ when ordering a drink on holiday then producing your own makes you feel pretty much like David Attenborough.
5. Do a five-minute beach clean
Now listen - I understand. When we’re away we want to find a sunny spot on the beach, whip out that book we’ve been meaning to read for ages and think about nothing. However, I find it increasingly difficult to concentrate on my book when I become aware of how much rubbish there is around me. I’m not saying we must organise a huge beach clean-up when we’re trying to relax on holiday, but just taking five minutes out of our day to have a quick scout around and pick up any trash that’s near us will make such a difference. I can bet other people will notice and hopefully it’ll give them pause for thought. They may even join in! Plus - it honestly makes you feel so good, which is what you’re trying to achieve on holiday right? Everyone’s a winner!
So, there we are. Five simple ways that make mindful travelling a piece of cake. Easy right? Go forth, spread the word and make the world a better place!
Jenny is an ocean loving plastic fighter who is trying to make a difference. She is happiest by the sea with a strong coffee and a dog to pet. You can read her blog at jennywrenny.blogspot.com