I had a chat with a friend the other day and he asked me: “What can I do to reduce my waste when I’m travelling? I’m flying in a month, what would you do? Where do I start?”
I was very happy that he asked; This is the perfect topic for anyone who is about to board on a plane and wants to be more mindful about leaving no trash behind. The ugly truth is that flying can’t be zero waste, at least for now… but did you know that you can reduce your waste while boarding that next flight?
Here’s how with 6 easy steps that you can take right away!
1. Go paperless: Don’t print your boarding pass
This might be obvious but I still see people lining up at the check-in counters with their paper boarding passes. Most, if not all of the airlines are offering E-tickets (Electronic tickets), downloadable via email or through the airline’s phone apps; Easy-peasy! We all own a smartphone in this digital era, making it easier than ever to go green. Of course, some airlines will print a boarding pass while checking-in, but at least you’ve avoided printing it twice.
2. Be prepared: Dress warmly for the flight
Dress warm, especially on long flights! I always bring a hoodie, a pair of socks and a big scarf that I can use as a blanket. You can then avoid using the airline blanket wrapped in single-use plastic: It’ll be one less plastic package used but every little bit counts, especially if we all do it. If you’re sensitive to the cold, you can bring your own travel set that includes a blanket in addition to a neck pillow and eye mask.
3. Bring Your Own Headphones
Most of us own a pair of headphones nowadays; The ones that came with our smartphone or the ones that we bought with better sound quality. Well, you can bring them with you on your next flight- it’s a new concept: BYOH, Bring Your Own Headphones, similar to the BYOB. I guess we all know that one.
So why should you BYOH? To avoid using the airlines headphones, usually wrapped in single-use plastic. And let’s be honest, the sound quality will be way better with your own headphones anyway.
4. Choose reusable Travel Utensils
We’ve all been in that situation when you’ve been asked to drink your entire water bottle before going through airport security or just tossing it if you aren’t that thirsty… Well, we usually toss it and it’s such a waste: A waste of water, a waste of money and one more plastic bottle in the recycling chain, if it ever gets recycled…but that’s a different story for another time.
Here we go, going back to the BYOB concept: Bring Your Own (water) Bottle!
You have many options out there: You have the insulated water bottle that keeps your drink fresh in the summer and hot in the winter. Or there’s the stainless steel bottle, the glass bottle, the bottle with a fruit-infuser compartment, the BPA-Free sports water bottle or even the bottle with a built-in filter that purifies the water. You can find them at your nearby supermarket or at your favorite sports store.
You can then refill your reusable water bottle at a water fountain beyond the security checkpoint: Most international airports do have water fountains. Another option would be to politely ask for water at one of the airport coffee-shops or bars. They rarely say no!
You can also bring your own reusable bamboo cutlery sets of forks, spoons and knives to avoid using the airlines plastic cutlery wrapped in (once again) single-use plastic. And don’t forget your reusable stainless steel straw, instead of sipping your drink out of a single-use plastic straw on board the plane AND at your destination.
You can also think of packing a snack to escape the single-use plastic-wrapped food items on the plane; You can call the airline ahead of time to let them know that you don’t want any meals on your next flight. This really is a very personal choice and depends on each and every one of us but I wanted to mention that you can bring food such as sandwiches, pastries or nuts among others as long as it’s not a liquid; Just make sure to check the food regulations in the destination country beforehand.
5. Go trash-free with your Toiletries
The best option is to bring solid body hygiene products. Solid usually means no packaging which is good if you want to be trash-free. You do also have timeless soap bars such as the famous “Savon de Marseille”, solid shampoo, solid deodorant, and even solid toothpaste. As I’m currently in France, I personally use this solid shampoo from Lamazuna and I’m very happy with it; they do have different ones according to your hair type. I plan to try their solid deodorant and toothpaste soon.
If you’re outside of France, I’m pretty sure you can find solid products at your local organic shop or at a Lush cosmetics store near you. You can also check out our Conscious Brands Directory for the best of zero-waste skincare brands in Asia, or Skincare Co for solid shampoo and ZeroYet100 for solid deodorant.
If you’re not ready to go solid yet, you still can stick to your refillable travel size items- just refill at a bulk shop once you’ve arrived at your destination if you need to (and if possible).
6. Break free from Duty-Free
Duty-free shopping can be tempting but it’s not waste-free: Duty-free items are sealed in a special single-use plastic bag for security purposes. You can’t get round this rule so break free from Duty-free! Do good to your wallet and to the planet.
And on that note, I wish you a safe Zero Waste flight and don’t forget to download the LeaveNoTrash Travel checklist. You can also check out our checklist for planning a greener holiday, and how you can offset the carbon footprint of your next flight. Which #LittleGreenStep will you be taking today?