Most of us are aware of the impacts the global tourism industry has on the environment. However we often overlook the simple fact that flying with heavy travel luggage means more fuel for the journey.
In the same way that we exercise to get fit or eat a healthy diet to maintain our wellbeing, so too can we transform the way we travel to ensure we’re conscious of the carbon footprint we leave behind.
As individual travellers, there are steps we can all take to reduce our environmental impact and contribute to a greener future for both the industry and the planet, starting with our travel luggage.
To help with this, we’ve collated a few of our top travel luggage packing tips for a more sustainable adventure:
Pack your travel luggage essentials only
Firstly, set aside some time to check the weather forecast for your destination and to write a checklist of essentials.
Less is more when it comes to sustainable suitcases, so the golden rule is to pack minimally. The heavier your luggage, the more weight the aircraft must carry, which contributes to higher levels of fuel consumption and in turn, a larger carbon footprint.
When it comes to packing lightly and sustainably, there’s no need to compromise on comfort or style – trust me, I understand the importance of having ample Instagram-worthy outfits at the ready. Instead, it’s more about being organised and understanding how your belongings can impact the environment.
Pack things you know you’ll need and will get lots of use out of, so there’s less chance you’ll need to make fast-fashion purchases while you’re away. Giving yourself time to pack, as opposed to throwing things in your case as the cab pulls up out the front will help reduce unnecessary pieces.
Swap your toiletries for non-toxic, cruelty-free alternatives
By choosing low-packaging options, not only are you reducing the amount of potential waste but also stealing back space from those half-empty, bulky containers we often carry on holiday.
The most iconic travel toiletry, trusty old sunscreen, is unfortunately not very kind to the environment. One of the ingredients commonly used in household brands, oxybenzone, is toxic to our ocean and coral reefs ecosystems, including marine life.
The good news is that there are plenty of brands that are conscious of protecting both the environment and our skin. While I recommend doing your own research because some natural sunscreens expire quickly and might not be strong enough for your purposes, one of my favourite products is Little Urchin Natural Sunscreen.
Cleansing wipes are a travel necessity – they’re handy for a quick refresh on the plane, cleaning ice cream off kids’ faces, and mopping up spilt cocktails – but it’s important to pay attention to the brand you purchase. Wotnot Face Wipes are my go-to, as they’re made from luxuriously soft 100% biodegradable cloth, so they break down quickly once you dispose of them.
Shampoo & conditioner
If you haven’t already used shampoo and conditioner blocks, made from natural ingredients, I’m about to change your hair-washing habits. Not only are they made from toxic-free ingredients, they’re also plastic-free, which is a huge win for the planet. I buy mine from Lush and they’re amazing.
Did you know you can get toothpaste tablets instead of the tubes? They’re plastic-free, don’t take up much space, and leave you just as minty fresh! Plus, don’t forget to swap your plastic toothbrush for an eco-friendlier bamboo alternative.
Take re-usable utensils and containers
Disposable cups and plastic water bottles are the two largest contributors to litter and landfill, while plastic straws are wreaking havoc on our global waterways. Do your bit for the environment and whenever you travel, pack a keep cup and reusable water bottle and a bamboo cutlery roll.
Ideally, the goal is to be able to refuse any disposable plastics during your travels. If you use straws, purchase some environmentally-friendly alternatives. I love Biome because they offer a range of bamboo, steel, glass and silicone alternatives.
If you think you’ll purchase takeaway throughout your travels, or like to carry your own snacks, take along some reusable steel containers – I swear by these Seed and Sprout food savers.
Read more: 6 Lifestyle Hacks For Going Plastic Free
Invest in solar powered chargers
Reduce your electricity consumption by purchasing portable solar powered chargers. You can buy battery packs for your phone that are powered by the sun, or you can spend a bit more and get a charging kit that will power your USB and battery devices – like this one from Kathmandu.
Don’t underestimate canvas totes
Humble canvas totes are light, versatile and an absolute must when travelling. They can carry your beach gear, souvenirs (remember to only buy responsibly sourced, made and packaged gifts), laundry or groceries… the options are endless.
Pre-pack meals for flights
Not only are in-flight meals usually unpalatable, they are notoriously terrible for plastic use and food waste. Fill your new sustainable containers with some delicious and nutritious snacks instead – you won’t regret it!
Ask your friends
Instead of buying brand new gear for your next camping, skiing, snorkelling or stand-up-paddleboard-yoga retreat, ask your family and friends to see if there is anything you can borrow. The bonus is that you don’t have to worry about trying to carve out space in the cupboards for things that will gather dust for most of the year.
It’s also worth borrowing if you need a suitcase, floppy hat, boots, camera, etc. If you don’t know anyone who has what you need, buying second hand is always a more sustainable option.
Need more inspiration?
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