Travellers picking up beach plastic (Shutterstock)
List Words : Team Wanderlust | 18 September 2019

The best ways to avoid plastics on your travels

From organising sunset beach walks and finding free watering spots, to salvaging fabrics for use in your travel gear – here are your top tips for avoiding plastics on the road...

Make sure your travel gear is plastic-free

Refillable water bottles are good for the environment (Dreamstime)

Refillable water bottles are good for the environment (Dreamstime)

“In Nepal, I saw lorry loads of plastic bottles being tipped off the side of the road into ravines, so I bought a Water-to-Go filter bottle.

It filters any non-saltwater to make it safe to drink; I haven’t thrown away another plastic bottle since.

I also use Friendly Soaps’ Travel Soap – it’s antibacterial, antiseptic, deodorising and keeps the bugs at bay. They’re packaged in recycled cardboard boxes, too.”

- Sue Bungard

I use stainless steel water bottles and straws; bamboo coffee cups and toothbrushes are great, too. 

I also make tote bags from upcycled fabric; they fold flat for packing, can be carried in a pocket or handbag and weigh almost nothing.

Lastly, you can get travel-size toiletries from The Body Shop, and not only will they take their plastic containers back for recycling, they also give out vouchers if you return enough!”

- Linda Gemesi

“Only use natural-fibre clothes so when you wash them they don’t release microplastics.

Don’t buy equipment online, either – it saves on extensive plastic packaging.”

- Katherine Raines

“I use a lot of contact lenses when travelling and always save the cases.

They come in to send back to the company I get them from. They have a recycle scheme, which is really useful and no hassle at all.”

- James Strickle

Clean up your destination

Khao Lak Beach, Thailand (Shutterstock)

Khao Lak Beach, Thailand (Shutterstock)

“While in Khao Lak, Thailand, we stayed in
a beach hotel.

After seeing the plastic bottles and bags littering the beach, we organised a sunset walk to pick up as much as we could.

We enjoyed the walk and the hotel liked the idea so much that they organised more.”

- John Bolton

“When I was in Tajikistan, I used public transport – tightly packed shared minibuses – and told other passengers (often locals) that throwing water bottles out of the window is wrong, as the plastics are carried away by wind and river, spoiling the desert-like landscape.

I showed them my reusable water bottle, too. It was never easy to explain, but sometimes the driver supported me and we agreed that it all came down to ‘old habits die hard’. I do hope that some people will have changed their mind.”

- Helga Boom

Or visit one that's already cleaning up...

Giraffes in Kenya (Dreamstime)

Giraffes in Kenya (Dreamstime)

“To avoid single-use water bottles while travelling, I use a great app called RefillMyBottle.

I used it while travelling in Bali, but it’s available in more than nine countries.

The app locates clean water refill stations, where you can fill your reusable water bottle for free (or a small fee), saving on plastic consumption.”

- Hannah Matthews

“Do some research and visit
places that are becoming more eco-aware and boycott those that aren’t.

Kenya is a great example; they have totally banned plastic bags, and you can even be fined for using one.

Many safaris and hotels supply branded reusable bottles and serve water in glass jugs so you can fill up your bottle.

If Kenya can do it, then why not the rest of the world?”

- Amanda Sidlow

Eat right - no plastic needed

Bring your own chopsticks in Japan (Shutterstock)

Bring your own chopsticks in Japan (Shutterstock)

“Always take reusable cutlery to replace all those plastic ones you get through on your trip.

On a recent trip to Japan, we took our own chopsticks. It’s estimated that 24 billion a year are used in Japan, and many are plastic.

Take your own – it takes up next to no room in your bag, and Japanese restaurant staff seemed genuinely impressed by it!”

- Gonzalo Dominguez

“When I travel, I love to buy fresh, unpackaged produce from farms and markets.

Not only does this cut down on plastic use, you get a much more authentic experience of the country and its culture, too!”

- Rebekah Nairn

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