Our earth is indeed beautiful. We travel thousands of kilometers to explore its exquisite beauty in blue seas, snow-clad peaks, and vast grasslands. We travel everywhere, collect memories but leave behind mounds of plastic in the form of bottles, bags, straws, and cutlery. We teach others to keep their surroundings clean but never hesitate to throw a plastic bottle on the road or at the beach. The results are alarming. Large volumes of plastic debris have collected in five giant patches in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. They are known as the 5 Gyres. We have created an entire parallel ocean out of plastic!
On an estimate, about 9000 disposed items of plastic are found in every square kilometer of land. This is not something to be proud of. Travelers all over the world are contributing to this debris more than before. Tourism, in its way, is far from being friendly towards ecology. Resorts built on natural landforms, huge gatherings of travelers, collections of plastic packing material, vehicular carbon emissions- all are continuously contributing towards choking our beloved Earth.
Sustainable travel is the need of the hour. In simple terms, it means, traveling in such a way so that tourism over a long period doesn’t negatively impact the environment. Tourists are supposed to collect happy memories and leave behind happier ones for the locals of the place they have visited. And plastic waste reduction tops the chart for Sustainability.
As we celebrate World Tourism Day today, let us explore 7 simple tips to reduce plastic waste while traveling to maintain sustainability.
Simple Tips To Reduce Plastic Waste
1. Carry reusable jute or canvas bag
You may need a bag during travel just for anything. You may use a tote to carry things, or pack a quick lunch or even for storing items from your shopping spree while traveling. Instead of deciding on the easier to get hold of plastic bags or totes, go in for big, sturdy jute or canvas bag. It is not only easy to carry but can be neatly folded and kept safely in your travel backpack. Besides, jute and canvas are eco-friendly materials for a bag, so arranging for such a bag will enhance its sale as well.
2. Travel with a reusable water bottle
Plastic water bottles are the easiest and the most hazardous means of creating plastic waste. It is always convenient to purchase a plastic water bottle on the go while traveling, and still easier to throw it or leave it behind. Plastic bottles take about 500 years to get decomposed, so you can estimate the amount of plastic footprint that can accumulate over the years.
We can always start with a simple step that would be ditching the plastic bottle. Carry a reusable metal or glass water bottle from home while traveling. They are not only easy to carry but you can fill them with water or beverages on the go. You can save plastic waste up to 25 plastic bottles for a week-long solo trip. The earth will surely thank you for that.
3. Say NO to plastic travel items
Our travel packing list has a large number of items on it. If you observe, most of them are made of plastic. Plastic bags, plates, spoons, cutlery, straws, covers, bottles, and still many more. To lighten our travel backpacks, we often choose plastic products that can be got easily anywhere. Little do we realize that as our bags lighten, the weight of the plastic debris on the earth increases.
A good idea would be to completely ditch these plastic items. You can pack Tupperware instead of choosing plastic packets to store food. Keep reusable bottles and avoid using plastic spoons and cutlery. Travel with your travel bowl or food containers.
It might appear tedious at first, running around and collecting stuff that is not made out of plastic. But remember that, you are carrying a big responsibility by being a conscious traveler.
Also Read: World Environment Day: 10 Small Ways to Save And Help Conserve The Planet Earth
4. Pack eco-friendly stuff
Once you have made up your mind to ditch plastic travel items, you can now go in for more eco-friendly stuff. Invest in bamboo, or reusable biodegradable straws to sip your drinks while on travel. Remember, after plastic bags, plastic straws top the charts of plastic waste in beach clean-ups.
You can also turn down plastic cutlery and carry a home cutlery kit or one made from bamboo or other reusable material. Go for recyclable paper plates and cups, Nowadays, recyclable bamboo or wooden toothbrushes and razors are also available in the markets, which you can include in your travel kit. Pack your toiletries like shampoo, soap, and lotions in leak-proof reusable bottles or form of bars, rather carrying n number of disposable plastic travel tubes.
5. Cut down on plastic waste
We are all aware of how to cut down plastic waste. But not always conscious enough to do that. As a conscious traveler, we need to be aware of our actions. Even if each of us can do a little to cut down on plastic wastes, it would be a great help. You can buy beverages in glass bottles or glasses or better still, reusable ones that you carry in your travel pack. Before you go ahead and purchase your next plastic every-day item, quickly check to see if you can find a biodegradable version of that item.
While shopping, choose local markets and use your jute bags to carry stuff. Try to manage your travel snacks. Instead of choosing plastic wrapper based processed food, you can opt for fruits or veggies, or homemade items, or food packed in paper or compostable material. Ditch the cling wrap.
Also Read: Top 10 Greenest Cities In The World
6. Pick up plastic bits while traveling
This will require a little extra effort from your side. I am sure, many among us, who are environment conscious, are already doing this. It is as simple as clearing plastic as you go. You will come across bits of plastics lying on hilltops or beaches or around yourself. Throw your garbage in dustbins; rather let it lie carelessly out in the open. You can leave your hiking trails much cleaner if you could just pick up the little bits of plastic lying here and there. I am responsible for my trash. Why should I pick someone else? You would say. Why should Mother earth suffer because of you then? If everyone can pick up little bits of plastic while traveling, we would leave behind a much cleaner environment.
7. Be a Responsible Traveler
Travelling can be an awesome experience. Don’t make it a nightmare for those behind you. Plastic consumption is more by choice and routine than by necessity. There are always options available, it’s just that we need to search around and choose the right alternatives. The lesser plastic material we carry while traveling, the lesser we will use and throw around. We know the slogan: Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Recycling needs will automatically spiral down if we can responsibly reduce plastic consumption and switch to reuse of eco-friendly products.
Sustainable travel is the responsibility of all of us. Here is hoping you would find these tips for reducing plastic waste for sustainable travel helpful and will put them in action.