Travelers have a love affair with the planet. Thats why they want to see it all. When I began traveling in the developing world, I was living and working off-the-grid in remote Alaska. I took the protocols and tools used in the wilderness and applied them to my traveling life. Whether in the most remote wilderness or the most populated metroplexes, these products are crucial for traveling sustainably.
- Reuseable bags :: In Asia it doesn’t take long to see plastic bags blocking the rivers and causing mass flooding. Eventually these bags end up floating in the oceans. Plastic bags are one of the top ocean-killing products around the world. Animals on land and in the ocean will smell leftover foods and often times eat the plastic bags making them sick or worse. Learn the phrase “no plastic” wherever you go, and refuse to take a bag with you. For more motivation watch this: Watch this Ted Talk by Melati and Isabel Wijsen, Balinese teenages who started a movement in Bali to ban plastic bags.
- Steri-pen :: Drinking tap water when traveling in developing nations can be downright scary and even lethal. Most travelers buy countless bottles of drinking water throughout their adventures. Ready for this? You can buy your own personal tiny little water purification system called a Steri-pen. From the rivers of Nepal to the faucets of India, I have tried and tested my Steri-pen. As effective as it is tiny, the Steri-pen is a game-changer in the world of traveling sustainably.
- Portable Water Filtration Straw :: Similar to the Steri-pen, this portable filteration straw is small and easy to use. In Alaska, I always kept a filtration Straw in my first aid kit incase my Steri-pen batteries ran out. At the end of your travels, this would make a lovely gift to give along your travels as well if you will be traveling to areas where clean drinking water is not available to the locals.
- Reuseable Bottle :: We could make an enture other continent from plastic bottles alone. Equally as disastrous as plastic bags, we have plastic bottles. If you plan on using the Steri-pen (mentioned above), a 1 Liter Nalgene water bottle is the perfect marriage for it. The steri-pen works with the same 1 liter amount of water. There are so many reusable tea and coffee cups, bottles, food containers. Pick yours and enjoy every sip of water, tea and coffee a little bit more.
- Re-useable utensils and straws :: Straws are almost always unnecessary and to Indians and Sri Lankas, utensils are unnecessary as well. Anti-straw campaigners have found plastic straws washing up by the millions. In Bali, you will find a straw served with nearly every coconut, soda and fruit juice. It adds up. Same for chopsticks, single use cups, plates … the list goes on and on.If you like to use utensils and straws, then bring your own bamboo utensils and straws. Check out these: Bamboo Utensils here
- Tiffin for take away :: Inspired from my travels through India, tiffins are a great way to move your food without all the single use packaging of styrofoam and plastic. I find tiffins the most useful when traveling in the first world where food is expensive. I fill mine with fruit and nuts for a snack while traveling all day. Grab food from the grocery store or a deli and enjoy it in a park or at the beach. Or my favorite, load up on poke at the grocery store in Hawaii and enjoy it after a long surf. The take away culture is a nasty one when it comes to the enviornment. In case you aren’t familiar with tiffins check this one out : here.
- Moon | Deva cup :: I have no idea how to gracefully move from the topic of food to feminine products, so I will awkwardly dive right in. The average woman uses roughly 11,000 tampons in her lifetime. The time it takes for a tampon or pad to degrade in a landfill is centuries longer than the lifespan of the woman who used it, particularly when wrapped in a plastic wrapper or bag. (read more here). I have been a happy moon cup user for nearly 10 years. In my opinion this is by far the healthiest and safest option for our bodies. Free from bleach and without the excessive drying effect of cotton, more importantly you can rid yourself from the risks of toxic shock syndrome. I cant help but add, that as a surfer it just works a hell of a lot better than any other option (and I have tried them all). The eco-friendly alternatives to disposable pads and tampons are: silicon menstrual cups, reusable pads (which I personally find difficult to travel with but great when home) and unbleached/organic cotton varieties of disposables (if you must). Find out everything you need to know: here.
- Solar Power Charger :: Dreaming of palm trees and crystal clear waters? Yes, I know you are. If you will be traveling to a sunny spot (which is basically everywhere besides the north pole in winter), then why not take advantage of the sun you are traveling to enjoy. Stay in your hammock or sun lounger a little longer and let your iphone charge up while you nap. Outlets are not always commonly available in certain parts of the world, but the sun is almost always available. Here.
- Universal Sink plug :: If you are a minimalist traveler like myself, you keep your pack small by carrying a few select articles of clothing. My personal routine is to wash my undies every morning, hang them to dry and wah lah .. less laundry, less water used, and less stink as well. see more here.
- Do a little research and stay at smaller homestays vs massive hotel chains :: Hundreds of hotels use up a large share of freshwater reserves, with each four-star room consuming 300 litres a day. In Bali alone, every year 700 hectares of land is lost to hotels, luxury housing for rich foreigners. Consider a smaller homestay or hotel. Stay closer to the beach versus staying somewhere with a large pool. Do a little research and support the local people and their businesses instead of large established hotel chains.
Be a more sustainable traveler by traveling on planes less, using public transportation more, walking and biking when possible. Be more thoughtful with your purchases. Think ahead of your needs so you can avoid single use plastic such as water bottles and plastic bags. Request the hotels not change your sheets everyday. Finally, grab a small (reusable) bag, throw in these 10 products and head off into the world as a much greener gypsy.
Thank you for taking the time to read these easy handy tips that all travelers should know about. Sending lots of love across all the greens and blues right to you!