I read a statistic the other day that made me so, so sad. By 2050, there will be more plastic bottles in the ocean than fish.
The more I travel, the more aware I become of the impact that I’m having on the places I visit and the planet as a whole.
Everywhere we go we create an obscene amount of waste. On our 6-month trip around Asia, we threw away hundreds of bottles of water and plastic bags from shops that we carted around until we could find what seemed like a suitable place to dispose of them.
I swam in oceans surrounded by garbage because there is no organized waste management, because there’s nowhere for it to go. I saw first hand what tourism is doing to impact the environment and I felt so embarrassed, so angry with myself for not doing my part to reduce it.
So I decided to change that. I decided to do some research and invest in products that would make me a better, greener traveler. I want to travel sustainably and make sure that I am not adding to the problem (in fact I’d like to do the complete opposite!).
These are some products that I have personally tested and love. They are environmentally conscious, they reduce the amount of waste not only while you’re traveling, but while you’re home, too. It might not seem like you alone can make a difference, but imagine if we all made small changes to reduce the waste in the world?
There are a few different Lifestraw varieties, but the LifeStraw Go is perfect for what I need. It has a built-in filter that cleans the water as you drink it through the straw. It eliminates 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites which makes basically any type of water you find along your travels, safe to drink. Each filter lasts for 1,000 liters which is an absurd amount of water. On a really thirst day I drink about 3 liters. That’s almost a year of water (333 days). You can buy filter refills, it’s BPA free, and for every bottle that you buy a child in a developing country gets clean drinking water for an entire school year.
I was slow to the Diva Cup party, but it was one of the best things I bought for my travels. I can’t imagine how many tampons I would have had to pack for five months (because there definitely aren’t any to be found in rural Laos). It also means nothing to dispose of along the way. It’s super easy to use and so tiny it hardly takes up any space in my bag.
I love these. Did you know that plastic utensils aren’t biodegradable? These To-Go Ware RePEaT Reusable Utensils are made of bamboo, they’re easy to clean, and they come in a carry case that’s made of recycled plastic. You get a fork, knife, spoon, and chopsticks and you never have to throw away plastic utensils ever again.
Reusable Tote Bag
I use these types of bags all.the.time. I use them when I go to the grocery store, when I go on a road trip, or when I’m on the road as an extra tote bag. It’s amazing how many chances I find to use these bags. Buying some souvenirs, waters at the convenience store, snacks at a market – skip the plastic bag that will probably end up on the roadside and use a reusable tote. This pack of FINEX Reusable Shopping Totes comes with five that roll up into themselves so they take up no space at all. Even better, head to your local grocery store and pick up some of those 99¢ reusable bags and roll them up into your luggage before leaving home.
Did you know that there’s a chemical in many sunscreens that is killing coral? I didn’t either. As a newly certified diver I feel like I owe it to the underwater world to keep my skin free of things that are ruining the very beauty I’m going down there to see. The chemical that seems to be the biggest trouble maker is called oxybenzone. Turns out it’s not so good for us either! Try looking for sunscreens that have mineral blockers like zinc-oxide instead. Badger Sport and SPF Rx are good ones that I’ve tried in the past.
I know this all seems like a lot, like everything that we do has possible repercussions. It’s not meant to scare you or guilt you into buying expensive products, but it’s something I feel passionately about and I think if more people realized what simple changes we could all make, we could do a bit better for this planet. Even if you choose to change just one of your habits while traveling it can make a huge difference in the long run.
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