As travelers, it’s our job to make sure the places we visit remain just as beautiful and unpolluted for the next round of explorers. Many products we use on a daily basis but particularly those single-use and TSA–sized items we use when we travel, are made with harsh chemicals and excessive packing materials which are extremely harmful to the environment. Whether you’re headed on a trek in the Himalayas, a getaway somewhere tropical or just getting out of town for a night, here are some of our favorite eco-friendly products for traveling light, packing smart, and minimizing your carbon footprint.
First things first, before you even get started on packing, make a list on your phone or in your planner with everything you know you’ll need for your trip. After you’ve created the list, review it and get organized – this means thinking ahead about what you’re putting in your suitcase to make sure you don’t purchase non-eco-friendly products in a pinch. Definitely, take some reusable bags with you, these are perfect for shopping on the go, packing a picnic or just toting your stuff around, plus this will help you to avoid buying or using plastic bags once you arrive.
SKINCARE & HYGIENE
Now we’ll get to what goes in your bag. One of the biggest and easiest changes you can make is to stop using travel-sized and single-use products. These mini products are not only made in smaller quantities, which creates an enormous amount of extra waste, but their packaging often contains plastic. Instead, opt for reusable travel-sized containers like this flexible, silicone GoToob from HumanGear, which you can refill with your favorite products (plus, they’re completely BPA and PC-free). When you’re on the go, the last thing you want to forget is your toothpaste or deodorant, and these guys can often be the worst culprits when it comes to wasteful packaging. Enter Tom’s of Maine, a company making all-natural, eco-friendly and sustainable soaps, deodorants, toothpaste, added bonus: their products smell amazing.
Depending on your destination, you’re going to need some serious sun protection, and it’s hard to find a sunscreen that is safe for both you and the environment. Unfortunately, studies are showing that many sunscreens contain harsh chemicals which are dangerous to both humans and our surroundings. To give your skin and your habitat the best treatment and protection possible, try an organic, chemical-free sunscreen like this one from Badger which is non-greasy, long-wear and has biodegradable packaging (another thing you could pack in your GoToob).
HYDRATION, NUTRITION & COOKING
Traveling can make you thirsty and staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do to help your body. Rather than going for plastic water bottles which contain BPA and end up in our landfills, try a reusable, stainless steel water bottle. These bottles are insulated (meaning they’ll keep your drink hot or cold for hours), easy to clean, and won’t harm the environment.
One of the simplest ways to be more eco-friendly while traveling is to plan ahead. Have you ever boarded a plane or train, and realized you’re starving but didn’t pack any snacks? Don’t let this be an excuse to buy the overpriced and excessively packaged foods they serve onboard; instead, pack some small, easy-to-store items to bring with you for munching any time. The bulk food section at your local grocery store is a great place to start, or if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, try an energy bar with wholesome ingredients and minimal packaging.
If you plan to do a lot of your own cooking during the trip, a solar-powered camp stove not only harnesses the sun’s energy to help you whip up a delicious meal, but you’re sure to keep your food charcoal-free and keep waste to a minimum. Even if you plan to explore fine dining or eat out while traveling, packing some reusable utensils will help to keep you prepared as well as sidestep the polluting, plastic throwaways used in most places.
Bringing your electronics with you on your next big adventure? Make sure to keep your gear safe and protected from the elements with a sturdy case or a durable sleeve. When it comes to finding the perfect eco-friendly cover for your device, there are plenty of options ranging from eco-leather laptop sleeves to handmade, bamboo phone cases, so you’re sure to find something to fit your taste and your budget.
Now that your devices are covered and ready for travel, you’ll want to make sure they stay charged up, and nothing beats a portable solar charger. These mini solar panels will keep your favorite electronics charged while giving those carbon-emitting power plants a break.
Want to bring your music everywhere? We’re loving this portable Bluetooth speaker from House of Marley because not only is it earth-friendly but it sounds great, too. This speaker’s battery will last for 10 hours and is made from totally renewable materials like upcycled fabric and bamboo, so you can keep jamming guilt-free.
Clothing is another important factor to consider when traveling. You’ll want to choose items that are well-made, sustainable and can be versatile. An all-time favorite for any occasion is the Patagonia pullover. A dedication to protecting the environment and making clothes that last is forefront at Patagonia, and they’ll even repair worn garments for you. Also perfect for traveling, the super-soft, bamboo clothes from Yala Designs are just what you want to be wearing for a long journey, no matter the weather. Providing a variety of eco-conscious garments and travel accessories (all with minimal packaging), these items are an excellent addition to your suitcase.
Finally, where are you going to pack all of your amazing, eco-friendly travel products? Look no further than Osprey luggage and backpacks. Whether you’re just taking a carry-on or planning for a long trek, you’ll be able to find a well-made backpack or suitcase to fit your needs. Designed with the modern, eco-conscious traveler in mind, Osprey seeks to provide sustainably-made luggage for any occasion (and they will repair worn products, rather than replace them).