1. Reusable cutlery, container and bags
No journey is complete without a cheeky food stop on the go…but polystyrene and plastic takeout containers and single-use, splintering cutlery is no good for anyone, especially the environment! You can’t always guarantee that a company will happily put their food in your own container, but it’s no extra effort to have one with you anyway. It’s also an option to make your own food as part of your journey prep, which is undoubtedly cheaper and probably healthier too!
2. Drinks cup (and straw)
In a similar vein, a reusable drinks cup is an absolute must! Almost all major chain, and most independents, now accept reusable cups, and might even offer a discounted price for using one. It’s not just for hot drinks either, but cold ones too, which often come with a plastic cup, lid AND straw! I’m currently nagging my dad, who drives hundreds of miles a week for work, to stick to this one, as he alone must go through dozens of coffee cups.
3. Water bottle
Staying hydrated is really important, especially if you’re driving for long periods or travelling to hot countries. A reusable water bottle doesn’t have to cost a fortune – the fancy stainless steel ones can cost £14 but mine was just £2.50. Even a reusable plastic bottle is better than a single use one! I’ve also found that lots of places are happy to refill it for you, and some airports and motorway services even have refill stations. Since finding out about the Refill app, which maps the places near you which will fill your water bottle for you for free, I’ve noticed the sticker on several restaurants and cafes such as Wetherspoons.
Taking a water bottle through an airport is when lots of people shrug their shoulders and buy plastic after going through security, but I’ve flown with my metal bottle several times. Remember, liquids are prohibited, but bottles are not. Just drink then contents and ask the cabin crew to refill your bottle for you. I take mine everywhere; it’s especially useful in hot countries as it’s insulated so my water stays cool. It’s currently on the table next to me so I stay hydrated in this heat.
4. Sustainable toiletries
I’m talking about a bamboo toothbrush, shampoo and soap bars, and toothpaste and deodorant in glass jars. At home I use an electric toothbrush, and I used to have a plastic manual one for going away. After wearing out my old one, however, my mum and I both bought bamboo toothbrushes for Barcelona and that’s now what we use when we go away. They’re so light and easy to transport there’s really no reason not to try one. I also haven’t looked back since switching to a shampoo bar. It’ll take a couple of goes to get the conditioner right, but I’ve discovered my hair doesn’t actually need conditioning as much as I thought – whether that was always the case or just an advantage of changing shampoo I don’t know. Ultimately there’s no reason why your entire toiletry bag can’t be plastic free.
I don’t wear much makeup so I’m still working through all the products I already own, but some easy swaps are a face wash bar, moisturiser in a jar, and a reusable cloth to remove makeup instead of wipes. As for the products themselves, brands such as ZAO and Fat and the Moon make sustainable makeup products that I need to try!
6. Minimalist capsule wardrobe
Looking at the bigger picture, many people are reducing their wardrobes and curating more minimalist clothing. I have definitely cut down on the amount of clothing I buy and once back home I’m going to sort through my old clothes and donate some, but I’m far from a capsule wardrobe. The idea of zero waste isn’t actually about hoarding things, but simply not buying unnecessary products.
The amount of waste produced at festivals is, in one word, shocking. Thankfully, many low waste swaps can also make festival life easier. Try for example bringing your own sustainable toilet paper, and use reusable containers for food so you don’t have to cram your empty cardboard trays into overflowing bins. A face cloth is super easy to rinse out and hang over your tent to dry, and cuts down on how much waste you have to take to the campsite bins.