When it comes to packing for a holiday or extended trip, some of us leave it to the last minute, while others are super organised suitcase geniuses.
If we want to travel sustainably, we want to be don’t need to be Marie Kondo, but a little preparation can go a long way. Putting some thought into what you take with you will not only reduce your impact on the planet — it’ll also make things way more convenient as you bounce around the country or globe.
Here’s a list of how to pack when travelling sustainably:
- Forget the mini shampoo bottles
Cute and ridiculous as they are, the tiny bottles of shampoo/conditioner/deodorant/toothpaste are wasteful. You’re never going to use those bottles again. Also, nobody needs toothpaste that tiny. It’s a much better idea to de-cant your existing products into any cosmetic containers (or even a SunButter tin!) you have lying around at home. You can also fill up containers at most bulk food shops.
To avoid plastic use altogether, make the switch the toothpaste tablets or powder (like this one from Dirty Hippie), deodorant bars or paste (like these from Ethique or Woohoo), shampoo bars (like the Dindi ones) and soap bars (like Cedar + Stone’s). . Or, Viva La Body make an eco-friendly travel pack that contains everything you need and looks like a delicious box of cakes!
- Carry a shopping bag with you
Tote bags are an excellent thing to travel with because they roll up small in your bag and will come in handy in all sorts of ways — for groceries, laundry and market days, for example. As a bonus, they look way cooler than plastic bags (yuck!).
- Bring your reusable coffee cup
Even though we definitely advocate for sitting down and watching the world go by as you drink your coffee on-site, having a reusable cup on you means you won’t get caught out when on the run. Also, they come in handy as wine vessels at impromptu picnics. And here’s a real insider’s tip: if you BYO cup on planes, the flight attendants give you way more gin and tonic.
- Invest in a bamboo cutlery set and straw
This is a goodie. Having a cutlery set and straw on your person means that when you’re at a festival or enjoying some take away while perched riverside —perhaps with a new French lover — you can kindly tell the food vendor to hold the plastic. You can actually grab both from our mates at The Other Straw.
- Grab some period underwear or a menstrual cup
Clearly this one only applies to certain segments of the population, but Australian women alone contribute 18 thousand metric tonnes of sanitary items to landfill each year (hey, it’s not exactly our fault, but we can do better) so we’re big fans of period undies (like these from Modibodi) and menstrual cups (like this one from JuJu). Obviously both require washing facilities, so you might want to have a couple of spares up your sleeve. These alternatives to pads and tampons are also ideal for long plane flights.
- Take your reusable water bottle
A must. Stainless steel bottles (like Earthbottles) are the best because they have the ability to keep your drinks cool for 24 hours or hot for 12, meaning they’ll serve you just as well on a voyage into the Saharan desert as they would on a Siberian winter adventure. Hot tip: Take an empty stainless steel bottle with you as you go through security at the airport, and then fill it up before you get on the plane.
- Get yourself a SteriPEN
SteriPENs are particularly good if camping, hiking or travelling to those parts of the world where the water quality isn’t great. They can be used in bottles or cups of water and clear out 99.99% of parasites, bacteria and even viruses in 90 seconds. A no-brainer!
- Pack a Turkish towel or pashmina
This is actually more about comfort and practicality than anything else. Large wrap-style, rectangular pieces of fabric are literally everything when you’re travelling: scarf, beach towel, bath towel, blanket, yoga mat, picnic rug, shelter for the night… Name one thing they can’t do!
- Don’t forget your SunButter!
Pretty much regardless of where you’re going, you’ll need sun protection. You can slip, slop, slap on some SunButter without worrying that you’re contributing to the world’s plastic problem, or putting harmful chemicals into our precious waterways, or absorbing nasties through your skin. Plus, it comes in a cute little tin that can be reused afterwards, and our new and improved formula is super good at holding its shape even in extreme heat. It’s a win-win…win-win-win situation!