Is sustainable travel possible? This is a much debated issue among environmentalists as traveling creates a huge carbon footprint. Many would say that to be eco friendly you shouldn’t travel at all, or at least not by plane anyway. But is that possible? Can zero waste plane travel tips work? Many zero wasters and environmentalists have hung up their plane traveling capes in hopes of reducing their impact on the planet. Although this may definitely reduce impact, is it practical? For many people the answer is no.
Many people have jobs where they have to travel on a regular basis. On the other hand, many also have families that live far away from them. Should these people quit their jobs and never visit their families again? What about seeing the world and experiencing new things? Should we all give up on our wanderlust? With traveling becoming much more accessible, people are able to now see the world and have wonderful new experiences. These experiences can inspire people to make changes, to see how things are done in other lands, and to be more appreciative of the things they have. So is stopping all plane travel really the answer?
I personally don’t believe that asking people to stop traveling is a practical solution. We can’t stop people or even expect them to stop visiting their families, working, and experiencing the joys of traveling. I myself love traveling. I’ve learned so much from my recent travels abroad and that trip inspired me and encouraged me to make many wonderful changes. So I believe in traveling, yet because it is so damaging to the environment we need to find more sustainable ways to travel. So to help you travel a little more sustainably, I’ve come up with 6 easy zero waste plane travel tips anyone can do to travel sustainably.
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Travel Tip 1: Bring Your Own Bottle
Now, likely you’ve heard the first of our zero waste plane travel tips before. “Bring your own bottle!” seems to be screamed from the rooftop by environmentalists everywhere, and for good reason! But this is a valuable step many forget when it comes to traveling by plane. Most of us are very familiar with the fact we cannot bring liquids on a plane, yet there is a loophole when it comes to bringing your own water bottle. Make sure your bottle is empty. You can bring an empty bottle through TSA no problem and fill it up with water afterwards! There are many water fountains set up past security where you can then fill up your bottle. I have even seen water refill stations made specifically for reusable bottles!
Can you bring metal bottles though airline security? Yes you can! My husband and I have brought our huge metal Hydroflasks, Yeti mugs, and Clean Canteen mugs through airline security multiple times with zero problems. As long as they are empty you should have absolutely no problems with taking them through security. If you want to check out what reusable bottles I use, I listed them below!
Travel Tip 2: Bring Your Own Snacks
Ah yes, food. When on flights, especially long flights, you are going to want to eat food. The food provided on planes not only costs money, but they also have lots of packaging! If you have ever seen a plane being loaded with food for the flight-the packaging is immense! Plus, the packaging you see with your food is only a small portion of all the packing it took to transport and ship that food. That sounds like a lot of waste to me! So to reduce your waste you can pack your own snacks and meals!
When traveling I love bringing my stasher bag and packing my food in it. Good zero waste snacks to bring on planes are trail mix, granola bars, cut fruits and veggies, and dried fruits. I especially love dried pineapple-YUM! The only thing you should be aware of is many places don’t allow you to bring seeds on the plane, so be mindful of that with your fruits that you have no seeds!
Travel Tip 3: Utensils
Speaking of food, don’t use those plastic utensils they provide with meals. Bring your own cutlery instead! TSA allows silver cutlery on flights but if that is something you are worried about you can always get bamboo utensils and I choose them over my silverware just to be safe-the less drama from TSA the better.
Travel Tip 4: Choose E-tickets
You have two options, print out a ticket or scan it electronically. Whenever possible always choose electronic! You never have to worry about losing it and it saves paper.
There are times where you won’t have a choice in the matter though. Recently, when my husband and I were waiting for our flight we were called up to the flight desk and given printed tickets. We had already had our electronic tickets and were checked in online, but unfortunately something went wrong and they simply gave us printed tickets instead. There’s nothing we could do and simply there was no point in attempting to give anyone grief about the matter so we kindly accepted out tickets and boarded the plane. If this happens to you remember that waste happens sometimes and just recycle the paper when you get the chance.
Travel Tip 5: Pack Light
This step is very important, yet it is often also one of the hardest! Planes burn more fuel the heavier they are, resulting in using more resources and producing more pollution. To combat this, simply pack lighter! Not only will this help the environment, but packing lighter has many benefits for you as well!
-You save money and time by not having a checked bag.
-It makes traveling much easier not having to lug around a bunch of luggage.
-You have less things to worry about losing.
-having less stuff helps you to focus your time on the many more important things on your trip!
If this step is something you are struggling with, I suggest you start with clothes and look into creating a minimalist wardrobe. Having a minimalist wardrobe will help you with packing because all of your clothes will be your favorite, will be practical, and will go together! You can look into how to create a minimalist wardrobe here.
Travel Tip 6: Carbon Offset
Did you know that in 2018 flights were responsible for 2.4% of the global energy related carbon emissions? That’s huge! Planes create a lot of carbon emissions and that’s one of the biggest reasons why flying is so unsustainable. Yet, did you know there are efforts you can take to offset your carbon emissions?
It’s called carbon offsetting. Here’s how it works: you donate money to a company or project that is reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere-therefor balancing out your carbon footprint! These projects often include planting trees (which of course reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere), better forest or farming management, and similar practices.
Some airlines have their own carbon offset program that you can donate to when purchasing your ticket, that way it is already calculated and easy! Yet, if you are purchasing your ticket and cannot find this option, you can calculate the carbon emission yourself and then donate the money. When searching for the right project to carbon offset make sure they are being truly transparent with you. The more transparency in a project, the more you can trust them. And don’t be afraid to ask questions! One good place where you can find reputable carbon offset programs is Green-e.
What Are Your Favorite Zero Waste Plane Travel Tips?
Now we know how to travel a little greener! In this article we learned six simple steps to help reduce our environmental impact while traveling by plane. Not all of these tips will seem to make a huge difference, yet every little bit helps! Which of these zero waste plane travel tips will you try next time you fly? What are some ways that you reduce waste while traveling? If you enjoyed this post don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter below and share this post with your friends!