Sustainable Travel Essentials

The must haves for your next trip

written byMatt Davies Co-Founder, Mossy Earth

Matt Davies

When roaming foreign lands, it’s all too easy to forget about living sustainably. So, we've drawn up a list of sustainable travel essentials that you should pack on your next trip.

Reusable Bottle, Cup & Cutlery

If you wish to stay hydrated and consume the daily recommended amount of water when travelling, you can easily accumulate 10 -15 bottles by the end of a two-week trip. Avoid using all this plastic by investing in a reusable bottle.

For those countries where the tap water is not advisable, get yourself a water purifier/bottle. Simple to use, lightweight, safe and can purify even the dirtiest of water sources. Personally, I use a Travel Tap Purifier bottle, by DrinkSafe for £43. It has an 800ml capacity and can purify up to 1600 litres of water before the auto-shutdown mechanism kicks in and the filter needs replacing. Duarte has been travelling with The Grayl bottle for 3 years now. He never got sick even with the dodgiest tap water and the bottle has paid itself back within just 6 months of travelling in the tropics. Duarte put this down as his no.1 sustainable travel essential.

Despite the simplicity of reusable cutlery, you’ll be surprised how much disposable plastic you avoid using, as well as how handy they become when buying prepared foods. I even use my trusty reusables on flights to avoid all the unnecessary single use plastics the air stewards hand out.

Travel Tap Water Purifier bottles. The no.1 sustainable travel essential.
Travel Tap Water Purifier bottles. The no.1 sustainable travel essential for our Co-Founder Duarte.

Portable Solar Charger

I always travel with a 7W foldable Suaoki solar charger. It is conveniently pocket sized (150mm x 430mm), light weight (1kg +/-) with highly efficient solar cells that convert at 22% and work even under low light.

I buckle my solar charger to my backpack when travelling and hang it from a window in the sun once at my accommodation. It’s not only free electricity, but it minimizes your carbon footprint, and it is extremely convenient when needing to simultaneously charge my camera gear, phone and laptop.

For me, of all sustainable travel essentials, this is first in my backpack.

A portable solar charger. A must have on a sustainable travel essentials list.
A portable solar charger. A must have on a sustainable travel essentials list.

Pack Microbead Free Products

Microbeads are tiny plastic balls found in some shower gels, shampoos and toothpastes that find their way into our water systems, polluting our marine life. Check the label before you purchase to avoid products containing polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Look for the ‘Zero’ label or compare products on this extensive list by Beat The Micro Bead.

Microbead free, organic toothpaste.
Microbead free, organic toothpaste.

The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.

Ross Perot

Toxic Free Sun Creams

If single use plastic, microbeads and microfibres weren’t detrimental enough to our oceans, it’s now chemical sun creams wanting to harm the environment in the form of coral bleaching and ocean acidification. Coral bleaching is the phenomenon whereby coral loses its colour and rejects symbiotic organisms, essentially killing the coral. In a 2015 study, researchers concluded that in addition to rising sea temperatures, chemicals found in sun creams such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene, 4-mehtylbenzylidene (4MBC) and Butyparaben are all contributing to coral bleaching. 100% natural and biodegradable sun creams and sun blocks containing zinc oxide, are believed to be better alternatives.

Here is a list of environmentally friendly sun creams available on the market in 2020. If you're heading somewhere hot be sure to make non-toxic sun lotions part of your sustainable travel essentials.

Toxic Free Sun Block is a sustainable travel essential if you're heading somewhere hot or sunny.
Toxic Free Sun Block is a sustainable travel essential if you're heading somewhere hot or sunny.

Take 3 for the Sea ...or more!

Take 3 for the sea is a beach cleaning initiative set up by www.take3.org to help reduce plastic waste on our shorelines. Their tag line is simple – Take 3 pieces of plastic litter when you leave the beach, waterway or …anywhere! Collecting three pieces of litter as you exit the surf won’t save the seas of plastic, but the message you are spreading to other beach users could. Alternatively, download the Tidal Revival App and reward yourself for each piece of plastic you remove.

This is more of a sustainable travel mindset than sustainable travel essentials but you get the drift.

A man collecting litter from his local beach.
Safety Hand

Travel Sustainably

Invest in a water purifier.
Pack a reusable bottle, cup and cutlery.
Charge your electronic devices with a portable solar panel.
Ensure your wash kit only contains microbead free and packaging free cosmetics.
Use toxic free sun creams and blocs.
Take 3 for the sea

Sources & further reading

Peer Reviewed Research Section
  1. The Grayl - The GraylExternal link
  2. Drinksafe - DrinksafeExternal link
  3. SUAOKI 7W Solar Charger - SUAOKIExternal link
  4. Beat the Microbead - Beat the MicrobeadExternal link
  5. Toxicopathological Effects of the Sunscreen UV Filter, Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3), on Coral Planulae and Cultured Primary Cells and Its Environmental Contamination in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands - Environmental Contamination and ToxicologyExternal linkIcon Peer Review
  6. Best Reef Safe Sunscreens, Ocean & Eco Friendly Brands - Snorkels and FinnsExternal link
  7. Take 3 for the sea - Take 3 for the seaExternal link

Continue reading about travel

see All Guides