For the eco-conscious traveler, there are many things to feel guilty about during travel. The ecological impact of tourism is sobering. Just the impact of air travel is enough to depress oneself if you really research it. However, we also know the positive impacts of travel to ourselves and to communities all over the world.
Over-tourism is the overcrowding caused by tourists in certain locations throughout the world which causes conflict with the local people. The easiest way to combat over-tourism is visiting during low seasons to lessen the impact of crowds. However, for some, like families with children in traditional school and those working jobs that are busier in some seasons versus others, your time to travel is restricted.
If you are unable to combat over-tourism through your travel dates, attempt to travel with companies who make an effort to offset the negative impacts of tourism by working with locals to determine itineraries that work for the people. Companies that really give back to the communities from which they profit. These companies talk the talk and walk the walk.
An example of such a company is The Travel Corporation (TTC) which has created the Treadright Foundation, an organization with the goal to make travel matter. There are many businesses in the travel industry making an effort to reduce their ecological impact by eliminating single use plastics, removing straws from their hotels and ships, and clean water initiatives to name a few. It is your job as a traveler to find the companies making a positive impact to support.
On World Tourism Day September 27, 2019, the Treadright Foundation invited the world to join in on its pledge to Make Travel Matter:
In an effort to participate in this pledge, Every Avenue Travel has put together this sustainable packing list for the eco-conscious traveler.
Sustainable Packing List
Baggage Made From Recyclable or Eco-Friendly Materials
The biggest item you take on vacation is your luggage, so choosing luggage that is made from recyclable or eco-friendly materials is an obvious choice for your sustainable packing list. This goes for all of your accessory bags as well like backpacks and toiletry bags. Do not trade out your current baggage for more environmentally friendly bags since that only creates more waste, but make sure you make better choices going forward.
Recyclable or Eco-Friendly Packing Tubes
Packing cubes are a frequent traveler’s best friend, allowing a traveler to organize and fit so much more in their luggage. This is especially important for those trying to only use a carry-on suitcase. Look for packing cubes made of eco-friendly or recycled materials.
Reusable Cups & Water Bottles
One of the easiest things you can do is bring your own water bottle. You can get it through airport security empty and many airports have filtered water fountains for you to refill your water bottle. If you are traveling to a country where drinking water is unsafe, you can buy a purifying water bottle with filter much like what extreme hikers use. If you do not trust that process, you can at least buy the larger bottles of waters for refilling your reusable water bottle since they use less plastic. Many hotels provide filtered water to guests, so you can also use your reusable water bottle this way.
You are unlikely to encounter automatically being given to-go cups in most countries, so there is not as big of a need to bring other types of reusable cups, but if you have the room, go ahead and pack – especially for children to avoid being given to-go cups with lids and straws.
Eight million tons of plastic flow into the ocean every year. That is a staggering number. Plastic straws are a small percentage of this, but it is something everybody can easily do without if they try. That is why there is such a huge emphasis on this item in environmental campaigns. While traveling and in your everyday life, please get in the habit of bringing along a reusable straw.
Shampoo & Conditioner Bars
Sure, lots of hotels provide little travel bottles for you, but that requires wasting a lot of plastic. Hotels are starting to make the change to refillable containers for toiletries, but this process is far from the norm. Shampoo and conditioner bars allow you to pack enough hair products for your entire trip since they can make it through security in your carry on bag. That is why shampoo and conditioner bars in metal tins should always be part of your sustainable packing list.
Reusable Shopping Bags
This will also save you money in a lot of countries since many have started charging for plastic bags. This sustainable packing list is not about saving money though. It is about doing the right thing for the environment, and not using plastic bags is the right thing.
Many of you probably use an electric toothbrush at home. When it is time to go on a trip, you run to the store to grab a cheap plastic toothbrush to take on your trip. It is a hard habit to break but reach for the bamboo toothbrush which is biodegradable. This will probably require planning ahead and ordering online.
Again, bamboo is biodegradable. When replacing your brush next time, reach for the bamboo hairbrush.
Read More: Plastic Oceans: The Epidemic That Is Ruining Our Oceans
In our every day lives, there are so many choices we can make that make less of an impact on the ecosystem from the type of sunscreen we buy to refillable pens. Ingredients and packaging affect our environment directly. Other things we should consider are whether an item is local or must it be transported from far away and whether the quality of an item will cause it to be replaced often.
All of these things should be considered when purchasing any item, so that will automatically factor into how sustainable your sustainable packing list really is. Our sustainable packing list is to help you fill in the gaps with travel-specific items to help reduce your ecological footprint.
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