8 Essential Items for Travelers Who Hate Creating Plastic Waste

While traveling, even habitually eco-conscious folks can find themselves at the mercy of a sickening amount of plastic in an innocent attempt to cover their basic needs like food and clean water.

Plastic has become an all too pervasively present material in our daily lives that we don’t even notice how much we are surrounded by it all the time

This is a serious problem and you can be a part of the solution.

Globally, plastic production has increased aggressively, from 2.3 million tons in 1950, to almost 500 million tons per day.

Unfortunately, the cheap, convenient, and durable-enough-for-the-moment material is brought to us at the cost of our healththe health of our oceans, our wildlife, our bodies, and our planet. 

It never biodegrades; the sun just breaks it down into teeny, tiny particles that get eaten by microbes and plankton, then sea creatures, then eventually— us humans . 

This phenomenon is having a detrimental impact on our oceans, marine life, global food security, and coastal cultures.

Refuse single use. Travel sustainably.

This is your call to action.

Please do not ignore this global threat that affects everyone and everything that you’ve ever known and everything living creature that will ever be on this Earth.

Here are my favorite products and habits that help me refuse single-use plastic. They can help you be prepared to travel #plasticfree and leave a positive impact on the places you explore!

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Sea to Summit X-Seal and Go Set

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Experiencing street food while traveling (and trying new eats with your peeps in your home town) is an incredible part of life that no one wants to miss out on! Unfortunately, in this single-use culture we live in, eating out without being prepared is relentlessly and atrociously hurting our ocean.

These containers come in three sizes ( the kit above includes a medium and large). The small (not included in this kit) and medium size are small enough to fit in my fanny pack. Anyone else about that fanny life? 

The large size is perfect for a full sized take-away meal. 

Usually, I have my red medium sized container on me. It’s great for taking home leftovers and spontaneous street food & coffee (because way too many restaurants have served me a coffee or smoothie in a plastic cup…why though?!).

So if you are only looking to buy one, this would be my recommendation.

Collapsible + leak-proof.

I used to travel with a more classic style food container which meant having to carry around a backpack just to keep the damn thing with me. In all honesty, I did not like always having a pack on my back so sometime I would find myself hungry and without my #plasticfree but bulky food box.

I’m all about being gentle with yourself, but this led to me supporting single-use plastic and styrofoam way more than I could consciously stomach. 

These have been the biggest game changer in reducing my single-use trash. These are permanently attached to my person for the rest of my wild and adventuring years.

Most days it gets filled with curry or some kind of veggie stir-fry leftovers and thrown into my purse along with my laptop aka lifeline for my lifestyle. Shoutout to my digital nomads that feel me on this one.

I trust these. Since these containers seal, they are perfect for picnics and taking snacks on the plane.

The price for the X-Seal & Go’s are a little steep but I can honestly say that I regret nothing. The threading on the seal has never failed me. I can’t speak on the performance for other brands that offer similar items at a cheaper price but I can stand behind these.

Reusable Utensil Kit

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If you want to go really minimal, just bring a spork + straw, and call it a day. BOOM!

But if you’re like me and really enjoy eating with chopsticks and need to be prepared to eat soup any day, in any weather, then investing a gorgeous bamboo utensil kit like this one will serve all your tasty adventure needs. 

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The collection of straws I picked up in about 30 seconds on the beach in Da Nang, Vietnam. I knew there was a serious plastic problem worldwide but this experience really threw it in my face.

Check of Precious Plastic, Da Nang to see how you can get involved and be a part of the solution.In the US and UK alone, over 550 million plastic straws are thrown away every day.

I can only imagine what that number looks like in Asia where you are given a straw with everything including a bottle of water or beer. Excuse me while I roll my eyes so far back in my head I can watch my brain being annoyed. 

These bamboo utensils are gorgeous, lightweight, come with a pipe cleaner for your straws, and most importantly they are #notplastic

This product comes with two sets so you can leave one in your bag and one in your car or bike pannier.

Rule #1: Always be ready to eat!

Water Bottle

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We use 20 million plastic water bottles a day. It takes 3L of water to create a 1L plastic bottle

It’s important that we recognize the consequences plastic bottles have on our ocean, and as a result our health, and create change.

The good news is: change starts with you

Let’s pretend like these gloves are NOT made of plastic. You ALMOST had it nailed, wonderfully intentioned stock photo.

Depending on what part of the world you find yourself in, being able to find a water refill station could be easily accessible or a total mission.

Be best prepared by:

  • Bring your water bottle from home.
  • Ask locals where to find filtered water stations (Google Translate in your friend).
  • Ask Google where to find filtered water stations. 

I prefer stainless steel bottles since they are more rugged than glass because #adventurelife.

Hydroflasks are great because these vacuum-sealed, double walled containers insulate your ice cold water for up to 24 hours and hot beverages for up to 12 hours. Yes, please!

Stay hydrated, my friends!

Microfiber Towel

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microfiber towel is a must for every gear savvy traveler and outdoor adventurer. They absorb around 8x their weight in water, pack down very tiny, and dry so fast it just doesn’t make sense.

Microfiber towels are great for beach and waterfall adventures since they won’t take up all the real estate inside your day pack and weigh next to nothing. 

These bad girls also double as a yoga mat towel.

Have you ever attended a yoga class at a climbing or circus hostel somewhere around the world where the yoga mats looked like they haven’t been cleaned since 1985 and make you want to avoid chaturangas like you just might catch a disease to the face? Yeah, I’ve been there, done that too.

Throw one of these down over the disturbing but generously provided mats and enjoy your flow. Afterwards, you can wash it in the sink with some Dr. Bronner’s soap, hang it up, and it will be dry in about 30 minutes and ready for your adventure to the ocean or epic post-climbing shower.

Packable, quick drying, sand repellent, and made from recycled plastic bottles.

These are the only travel towels that I have found that are made from something other than virgin plastic material.

Each Evolve towel is made from recycled polyester that is equivalent to 20 plastic bottles.

“Aside from reducing landfill, the production of recycled polyester has significant environmental advantages over virgin polyester. rPET uses 90% less water, 70%  less energy, and releases 75% less carbon than virgin fibre production.”- Evolve Travel Goods.

Also, more space in my day pack is always welcome! How else am I going to fit my watercolors, camera, journal, sun protection, water, and snacks on snacks on snacks if my towel is taking up 90% of my pack?

The quick dry element to these towels is revolutionary. No one likes the wet towel funk lingering in their pack for days after an adventure.

Toiletry Tubes

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Fill these GooTubes with reef-safe sunblock and some Dr. Bronner’s soap and you are all set for your big adventure! Dr. Bronner’s castile soap is good for just about everything.

Washing your clothes, reusable utensils, hair, body, face, your cat, just don’t brush your teeth with it (I’ve actually heard people recommend this before).

Spoiler alert: it tastes like soap and I absolutely do not recommend it. Refuse single-use plastic toiletries at your accommodations.

These GooTubes are TSA approved, come in a 3-pack, are BPA-free, and made with a food-grade silicone.

These little guys now have LoopLocks which prevent accidental openings or leaks and can be hung from a backpack or shower hook.

Packable Tote

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One of my favorite things to do in a new culture is going to the local farmer’s markets. Don’t get caught up finding yourself in a market and completely infatuated with the vibrant flowers and juicy, exotic fruits without a bag!

Be ready for anything and always keep a small packable tote on you. #nomoreplasticbags

Best collapsable tote bag

Worldwide, over 1 trillion plastic bags are discarded every year.

Live in Asia for a while and tell me if you think this number is grossly underestimated because I certainly do.

These packable tote bags are made from 100% cotton. #notaplasticreusablebag

These are awesome because they pack down so tiny they can easily fit into any backpack, purse, motorbike trunk, or fanny pack (no judgement!) so you will never find yourself at the mercy of the infamous plastic bag. 

Hey girl, is that a cotton tote poking out from under your sweater or are you just happy to see me?

Collapsable Day Pack

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For those adventure heads that are traveling by motorbike or bicycle, a collapsable backpack may be more your speed. I love my little daypack that folds into a pouch smaller than my fist.

Backpacks are especially great for the body if you will be filling them up with a significant load.

Unlike a tote, backpacks distribute the weight evenly from left to right across your body reducing risks of a posture imbalance (more serious than it sounds) or flaring up an old injury.

It packs very small and can easily fit into a purse, fanny pack, pocket, or bike pannier. I’ve owned a few over the years and the Flash 18 from REI has definitely been my favorite!

Menstrual Cup

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Tampons are not as easily accessible all over the world as you may think they are. I’ve heard horror stories and watched friends desperately search for a box of tampons in an epic foreign big city scavenger hunt. 

Unfamiliar city, bleeding vagina, language barrier, and all the other little things that make the smallest task into a full blown mission that comes with navigating a new city and a new culture.

Personally, I’ve been using menstrual cups for basically my entire adult life so I don’t know this struggle first-hand, but I’ve seen it happen to friends too many times. 

Menstrual cups are good for the environment

If you haven’t already tried a menstrual cup, do yourself a favor and join the club already!

Deplastify your period, girl! #plasticfreeperiod

It’s estimated that a woman will experience an average of 450 periods in her lifetime. Considering that about 50% of the population is made up of women, I’m sure you can see how this all adds up very quickly.

Single-use period products are created from upwards of 90% plastics and are not recyclable. Unfortunately, their fate lies in landfills, incinerators, and the Big Blue. Period plastics are the fifth most common type of waste found on beaches, according to an EU report.

Menstrual cups are better for your health, your wallet, your adventures, your comfort, and are far kinder to the environment than disposable products. I’ve been using a DivaCup since 2011 and I will never go back to tampons.Team Cup all the way!

Check out this post about why menstrual cups are game changers for every menstruating woman. They are amazing and I’m completely obsessed.

Travel can be a profound life experience that expands our perspective of humanity and this planet we all share as our one and only home.

It can also be, and usually is, an extremely waste producing and environmentally damaging industry. Plastic is most often used to provide sightseers with containers for food, drinks, and shopping bags.

Travel gives us so much.

Let’s give back by transforming travel culture and having a positive impact on the places we visit. 

Let’s change the attitude and acceptance towards single-use items while showing how simple it is to travel with reusable gear when living our best lives.

Refuse single-use. Travel sustainably.

P.S. What are some your favorite sustainable products that you love to travel with? Let me know in the comments down below! 

Pin For Later | 8 Essential Items for Travelers Who Hate Creating Plastic Waste

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must have travel gear for travelers who hate creating plastic waste
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