We prefer our waves to be plastic-free too | Photography by @islameraliphoto - India

Every minute, one million plastic bottles are bought globally, while up to five trillion plastic bags are used annually. What's even more alarming is that over half of all plastic is intended for single-use purposes, eventually finding its way into landfills, obstructing waterways, or polluting our oceans. 

Approximately 8 million tons of plastic enter the oceans annually. Yep, 8 million.

Plastic free from the top down must be the way forward, and while this is a staggering problem and can feel a bit, well, overwhelming, we can take action as individuals and limit our own impact. Starting with how we choose to move around the world.

Read on for tips about how to avoid single-use plastic on your travels.

How To Pack For Your Trip

Make a zero-waste kit and keep it in your hand luggage.

  1. Bottle: Invest in a good metal water bottle.
  2. Coffee Cup: Take a reusable coffee cup on flights. Wine works perfectly well in a coffee cup.
  3. Straw: Metal or bamboo straw
  4. Cutlery for the plane: Bamboo, you might get asked questions if you take your metal butter knife on the plane.
  5. Toiletries: Refill old containers with the shampoo etc. you have at home already. Better still use solid/bar versions.
  6. Toothbrush: Try a bamboo toothbrush (take it home after your trip, give it a wash and use it to clean the sink once it’s dead).
  7. Flight pack: Take your own headphones, eye-mask and blanket for flights (and say no when they offer them).
  8. Tote Bag: A reusable bag, useful for all your shopping/dirty clothes/pants needs.

And for checked luggage:

  1. Utensils: In your checked luggage you can pack your favourite cutlery, and if you have one, a Leatherman tool comes in handy. It has scissors, a few blades, screwdriver, and many other useful parts. 
  2. Tupperware: When is tupperware not useful? If space is an issue, pack one decent-sized one and stuff it with other things from this list.

Choose airlines that are reducing their plastic waste if possible. And avoid plane food and all the plastic nonsense they give you by being prepared. Make yourself some energy bars, cut up some carrot sticks, whizz up some hummus, make some sandwiches – and put it all in your reusable tupperware (you will also find this tupperware useful on your travels at some point).

Re-use and look after the plastic bag you need for airport security. There’s no getting around it, but you can use this bag over and over again. For years.

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Check out the UN's tips for becoming a Zero-Waste Champion, and find out how you can actively make a difference in your life, on your travels and in your local area.

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Reducing our impact on the beautiful spaces we visit is possible | Photography by @tobybutlerphoto - Portugal

How To Avoid Single Use Plastic While You Are Away

  1. Use soap not shower gel - no plastic bottles for you.
  2. Take your reusable fabric bag for shopping and learn how to say you don’t want a bag (or a straw) in the local language - you’ll get bonus points for trying, too. If you come to see us in Portugal, learn these two phrases: “Sem palha, por favor.” (Without straw, please.) “Não saco, por favor.” (No bag, please.)
  3. Water: If you are traveling somewhere you do not want to drink the water, bring a purifying UV light or filter, so you are not reliant on bottled water. Alternatively, you can use a kettle at the accommodation to boil tap water.
  4. Data & calls: If you are getting a sim card, this is unavoidable plastic! If you go back to that country often, tape the sim card into the back page of your passport with the phone number, so you can reuse it.  Or, if you have a phone that is compatible, how about an eSim? Check out Airolo to see if it will work for you.

Thanks to Plastic Free Mermaid for the last three - check out her website for tips on how to live plastic free >>

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