We're in the midst of summer and can only imagine the number of holidays and adventures we will all be having over the next couple of months. Back in 2018, we wrote a post about the importance of taking some time off which you can read more of here. But, with it being estimated that 160,000 plastic bags and 20,000 plastic bottles are being bought EVERY SECOND, there are definite concerns about the impact our plastic consumption can have during these breaks abroad or at home.
Plastic pollution is certainly not limited to our home country. Whilst living a former life in the corporate world working for IMB, Clara recalls her trips to developing countries to help establish clean water, better healthcare, green energy, better schools, sustainable and vibrant cities and an empowered workforce. During a trip to Vietnam's capital, Ho Chi Minh City, around 10 years ago, Clara was shocked to discover the extent of plastic pollution in the rivers of the city. Further travelling has proved this was unfortunately not an isolated incident.
When travelling abroad, or even within the UK, we want to ensure that we are leaving the smallest possible environmental trace behind, especially when it comes to plastic pollution. We are all so acutely aware of the environmental damage plastic consumption is having on our planet but when we are taking some time to relax it can be so much more difficult to keep on top of.
Here are our top tips for keeping our plastic use to a minimum whilst taking time off this summer.
Pack your own toiletries
Tiny hotel toiletries often mean more plastic packaging. Avoid setting off airport security and opt for plastic free soaps, shampoos, conditioners and deodorants (coming soon to Cosy Cottage). Not only will you sail through security but you will be happy in the knowledge that your toiletries are as good for the environment as they are for your skin. The added bonus is that these soaps are perfectly compatible with exotic locations where additive-laden products might disagree with the plumbing!
Bring your own bamboo toothbrush
Each year in the US alone around 1 billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away. Opting for bamboo alternatives is a great option for your summer travels as they take as little as 6 months to biodegrade. You can also use it as a plastic free alternative to the one you may be offered on the plane.
Bring your own plane snacks
Steer clear of those heavily packaged (and overpriced) plane snacks by planning ahead and bringing your own along. You'll have a tasty snack at a cheaper price and all with limited plastic. Don't forget your beeswax wrap to carry it in!
Bring along reusable carrier bags for markets
Souvenirs and tasty treats are an essential part of many peoples holiday. Shopping at markets and small shops around the world can unearth a whole host of one-off gems and unique finds. As you would when going to the shops back home, don't forget to bring your reusable carrier bag to make sure there is no need for plastic bags and wraps.
Eat and Drink Local
Enjoying local cuisine is undoubtedly a big part of most trips. It is a great way to try something new and immerse yourself in culture. Another plus point is that it helps reduce your impact on plastic pollution. Imported foods tend to arrive wrapped heavily in plastic packaging. In some countries, this is left to the environment or is burned. It is a similar story in many cases which leads us onto our last point...
Bring a reusable water bottle
This one is something we are always encouraging to our friends and family back in the UK. In hotter climes, it is even more important that you stay hydrated and having water on the go in your backpack is a handy way to do this. However, it can be hard to find drinking water on the go. By taking a couple of large stainless steel bottles you can ensure you can top up when you find a cafe/hotel/restaurant with safe drinking water. In developing countries where tap water is unsafe to drink and finding clean water is more difficult, there are tools to add to your water to kill any nasties in the water.
For more ideas on making the switch to reduced plastic this year, take a look at this blog from January.