Zero Waste Travelling Pt. 1

I LOVE to travel. Even though planes are the least environmentally friendly way to get around, the deep need I feel to constantly be planning trips and traveling far outweighs my desire to be greener.  Traveling renews my excitement about life and opens my eyes to the different ways people live and the different natural landscapes.  I have the travel bug and I don’t think it will ever go away! Much to the disappointment of my family and my wallet and sometimes my boyfriend when I talk about my desire to move to other countries.

Since I will never give up traveling and I will mostly have to use planes to get to the places I want to go, I’ve been thinking of other ways to reduce my environmental impact while traveling. I recently was put to the challenge with my recent trip to Jamaica.

This past winter (but really it’s still winter) in Boston was pretty heinous.  It snowed 110.6 inches breaking the all time snow record (haha climate change I see you). I needed to go somewhere warm.

On the plane ride in I brought all my own food onto the plane and brought myself and my mom a mason jar each to use for drinks on the plane.  

I love these planet wise sandwich bags. They’re lined with plastic (bpa free though) but I’ll use them for years and they’re a better seal than cloth bags so food stays fresh longer, more like a regular plastic ziploc.

I brought my own earphones so I didn’t have to take the earphones they gave me.  I refused cups, napkins and snacks.  Successful zero waste plane trip!

Something else to consider when flying is the impact of the weight you’re bringing.  Packing light is convenient because you won’t have a lot of stuff to lug around, but also for reducing fuel needed by the plane. I never check a bag if I don’t absolutely have to and try to pack only what I need into my travel pack.  I would post what pack I use but I forget what it’s called and REI doesn’t seem to carry it anymore which is a bummer because it’s amazing.

Due to my plane being delayed we actually missed our flight to Jamaica and had to spent 24 hours in Toronto. Which would be okay if the only things I had weren’t flip flops and Jean jacket and it wasn’t 45 degrees outside.  Nevertheless we decided to make the most of it.  I did a little research on zero waste shopping in Toronto while I was there and holy crap! There’s like 25 bulk shops in the city.  It’s a zero waster dream! In the St. Lawrence market I found two alone! One of them was a tea and coffee shop and another was a small shop with nuts, grains, dried fruit, and candy. Pretty standard, and I bought some pistachios in my cloth bag! I did buy tea in a plastic bag because I only had cloth bags and the tea would go bad since I wasn’t going to be home for a week and it’s humid in Jamaica.  I bought cheese in paper and bread in another cloth bag.  It was the best market and the best city for going zero waste!

Once we got to Jamaica there was only a couple of things that I could do to be green at the resort that were in my control.

  • Reduce food waste! Most of the food was buffet style and everyone was PILING their plates with food that they just ended up throwing away at the end.  I tried to get only food I thought I would eat and went back for seconds if I wanted more.  The overweight Americans there tended to go for a i-might-never-eat-again attitude.
  • Keeping the same towels for the whole week. There was a sign in the bathroom that suggested reusing your towels to help reduce energy use by the resort, and I appreciated that sign.  We used the same 4 towels for the whole week and I felt better about that.
  • Using a reusable cup and straw.  The joy of an all inclusive resort is that there are drinks available all the time.  A surprisingly large number of people bought the resorts mugs (they were like big coffee canteens) and used that all week instead of getting a new cup each time (though luckily the cups were washable plastic and not disposable cups). However they did give you a straw every time, so bringing a mason jar or reusable mug and a reusable straw is key at these places! I had my two stainless steel straws and brought along the brush to clean them.
  • Reusable cloth bags/planet wise bags for sneaking snacks out of the buffet. Essential.

And that’s pretty much all that was in my control.  Not my normal travel experience but excellent none the less, Jamaica is incredibly beautiful!

I also wanted to add my experience with the coral reefs there. Which weren’t coral reefs because there was about 5 healthy patches of coral along the whole section I saw.  There was sea glass and trash that washed up and it was another reminder of the impact that humans have on the oceans – dead coral! Though I did see an octopus and I’ll never be happier.

Any more suggestions for how to travel green are always welcome!!

Happy traveling!


3 thoughts on “Zero Waste Travelling Pt. 1

  1. Last time I travelled I put a pillow and blanket in my carry-on luggage rather than use their pathetic plastic-wrapped ones on the plane and I was sooo much more comfy! I find taking a water bottle on board good too, they always refill when I ask (but are often confused because my bottle is stainless steel and think I want boiling water!) It fits much more than a cup so I don’t need to get a refill every 5 minutes : )

    As for towels, the amount they give you it’s easy to keep them all for the whole stay, I find!


    • Yeah I always pack my neck pillow and wear a scarf to double as a blanket and it’s so much better than the plastic wrapped stuff they give you! I don’t understand why it needs to be wrapped!


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