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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sources & further reading
- “The Grayl” - The Grayl
- “Drinksafe” - Drinksafe
- “SUAOKI 7W Solar Charger” - SUAOKI
- “Beat the Microbead” - Beat the Microbead
- “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 Toxicology
- “Best Reef Safe Sunscreens, Ocean & Eco Friendly Brands” - Snorkels and Finns
- “Take 3 for the sea” - Take 3 for the sea