Zero Waste Traveling Tips

Sep, 12, 2018

Living a zero waste life may be a challenge when you are home and in your routine, but is it doable when you get out of your comfort zone?  Traveling poses more of a challenge. My family travel every summer to Sweden since it’s where I come from. Sure, the very best zero waste option would be never to travel by flying anywhere; but for most, this is not an option, so you then have to do the very best you can to reduce your impact. Here is what my family and I do to reduce our carbon footprint while traveling.

If you care about the environment and need to travel, here are options for reducing your individual carbon footprint:

Buy a carbon offset program from the airline: Many airlines today offer carbon offset programs. They are carbon calculators designed to alleviate the impact of greenhouse gas emissions that result from the use of fossil fuels from your flight by making tax-deductible charitable contributions to a variety of independently reviewed and certified environmental projects focused on forest conservation, renewable energy and avoided deforestation.After you book your flight, you will be given the option to calculate your emissions and offset your carbon, or you simply can visit the airline’s carbon offset website. Enter either your itinerary information or a dollar amount that you’d like to contribute.

Refuse a meal on the plane and bring your own: Most of the meals on a flight are packaged in lots of plastic. In my opinion, they are not even that good, so a greener option is to give them a heads up that you will refuse your meal and bring your own food instead. We always do this, so I pack homemade food in plastic-free bento boxes from Lunchbot.

Supply your own water bottle: Almost all airports these days have water bottle refill stations. This is an easy way to fill up your water bottles before your flight to avoid plastic cups onboard.

Bring a coffee cup: We always bring a reusable coffee cup and get our java to go before flying. Sometimes, if you talk nicely, flight attendants will even give you coffee in them☺

Napkins: A cloth napkin is light and easy to bring, and can be used instead of any paper napkins.

Bring your own cutlery: Skip plastic cutlery and bring your own reusable ones.

Mason jars:Mason jars with lids are amazing and can be used for so much: as a wine glass on plane or train, for ice coffee (instead of plastic) at coffee shops, as food storage, or even as a composter.

Cloth shopping bag: This is great for carrying groceries, not only for going to a farmer’s market and grocery stores, but also for going to the beach.

Cloth produce bags: For buying fruits and veggies or stocking up on bulk food when opportunity presents itself.

Stay in Airbnb or apartment: Or try HomeExchange.com to exchange homes with another family. This is how we like to travel because we can cook our own food and prepare snacks to take with us when we’re out. This saves money and lots of waste from eating in restaurants. Usually, these homes come with a washing machine, so you can do your own laundry. To make it a green laundry, I always bring soap nuts. Bonus: Our kids generally feel a bit more relaxed in a home rather than in a hotel, and they have more space to move around and play.

Supply your own shampoo, soap and lotion: We bring shampoo bars and soap bars that come zero waste.

Bring active charcoal for water filters: Instead of buying bottled water, we bring active charcoal for filtering water, They are inexpensive and light to pack.

Use public transportation: If the place where you’re staying has public transportation, make sure to use it to the fullest, instead of renting a car or using a taxi to get around. Moreover, if the place is fairly small, use this opportunity to go on meaningful walks with your kids. On the other hand, wandering around on a bike will double the fun while significantly minimizing your carbon footprint.

Pack lightly and properly: The less stuff you bring with you, the smaller your carbon footprint will be. Just think about the cost of transporting your luggage, and the resources necessary to wash and iron your clothes during your travels. Even if your child is still a baby, you can be more practical with the packing of essentials. For example, there are various eco-friendly luggage bags available that can make your packing a lot easier.

It’s a fact that most people pack too much, and there is nothing more annoying than lugging around too many big, heavy suitcases when traveling, especially for a family of five. We usually pack clothes for one week and try to pack clothes that can be mixed, so there are more possibilities for changes and matches. Also, think layers for cooler days and nights. Of course, for longer trips I bring soap nuts so I can wash clothes.

Experience vs. material goods: Before the trip, make sure to have a long, yet purposeful and engaging conversation with your kids. Explain that traveling is all about the experience and family bonding, not about shopping for material things. Taking the time to encourage your kids to value the experience of travel more than anything else not only will help you stay green on your vacations but also will definitely make your children’s life more fulfilling.

Use electronic tickets for flight, transportation, events, etc.

Bring your own headphones for inflight entertainment.

Renta bike to get around, or walk whenever possible: There is no more fun way to see a city than walking or biking through it, in my opinion. These days, most cities have easy access bikes for rent.

Decline daily fresh towels and sheets if staying in a hotel.

Return plastic key to hotels.

Say no to disposable items: Usually on flights and in hotels, you tend to receive a lot of small, individually packaged items like warm towels, snacks, toothbrushes and shampoos. Most of them are either made of or packed in plastic, so I have a habit of saying no to disposable goods.

Don’t buy new magazines, books and newspapers for travel: Instead, borrow books from the library, buy used magazines, or download books onto your phone or IPad.

Decline newspapers offered on flights.

Decline plastic wrapped blankets.

Find a local farmers’ market or organic grocery store at your location: I just absolutely love visiting farmers’ markets in different cities and countries. And eating local foods is a fun experience.

The food we bring when traveling include:

  • Homemade raw granola with berries in a mason jar
  • Nuts
  • Crackers
  • Avocado
  • Bento box with salad, sandwich
  • Cold noodle salad
  • Quinoa salad
  • Hummus
  • Raw veggies and crackers to dip

Most important, don’t let your zero waste lifestyle take away from enjoying your trip. Bon Voyage!

September 10, 2018
September 13, 2018

Fredrika Syren

Fredrica Syren, the author and founder of Green-Mom.com, was born in Sweden. Her mother was a classically trained chef who introduced her to many eclectic flavors and skills at a young age. Her mom’s passion for the outdoors and gardening planted the seed for her own love of nature and healthy eating. She received a degree in journalism and has worked as a print, Internet and broadcasting journalist for many years with big businesses within Europe and the United States. After her mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she with pre-cancer, Fredrica changed her career to become a full time yoga teacher and activist. A longtime world traveler, foodie and career woman, she was exposed to many facets of life, but nothing inspired her more than becoming a mom. After her first-born, Fredrica began a food blog focusing on local, seasonal, organic & vegetarian dishes. Years of food blogging developed into the cookbook Yummy in My Tummy, Healthy Cooking for the Whole Family. Upon the arrival of her second child, Fredrica founded Green-Mom.com. Her vision was to establish a site providing insight about gardening, home and personal care, baby & child, and of course food & nutrition. Green-Mom.com hosts many talented writers shedding light on ways to incorporate eco-friendly and nutritious practices for busy families. She is an advocate for organic, local and sustainable businesses. Fredrica hopes to inspire social change through her lifestyle, passion and business. Fredrica lives with her husband James Harker-Syren and their three children in San Diego, CA.

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Hello there! My name is Fredrika and I’m a Sweden native living in San Diego, California with my husband James and our three children. I’m an environmental writer and have been sharing my family’s journey of living zero-waste since we shifted our lifestyle back in 2016.

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