9 Helpful Sustainable Travel Accessories for Your Next Trip

9 Helpful Sustainable Travel Accessories for Your Next Trip

Sustainable travel is more popular than ever. In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by VisitorsCoverage, 75% of travelers rated sustainability as ‘very important’ to their travels. And the good news is that becoming a sustainable or zero-waste traveler isn’t as hard as you might think.  

 Zero-waste travel is all about making choices that save natural resources and protect the places we visit. As the name suggests, it’s literally about leaving no waste behind. 

Remember, sustainable travel isn’t an all or nothing game. You don’t have to be a perfect zero-waste traveler to make a difference. As Anne-Marie Bonneau, better known as the Zero-waste Chef says, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”  

So, are you ready to give zero-waste travel a try? It all starts with packing the right accessories. Here’s our list of the top sustainable travel accessories you’ll need to make your next trip more sustainable.

1. Reusable Bags

Instead of plastic bags that harm the environment, pack a few reusable bags. These are really light and can fold into small pouches that won’t take up much space in your suitcase.

How do reusable bags help you practice zero-waste travel? Well, picture this: It’s a sunny day in the busy markets of Marrakech. Colorful carpets, the sweet and savory smell of spices, and stalls full of handmade crafts surround you.

While browsing, you notice a pretty painting, a bottle of argan oil, and a set of placemats.

You end up buying them all. When your shopping trip is over, you’ve got about a dozen plastic bags filled with souvenirs. When it’s time to leave Morocco, you pack the items in your suitcase. After that, you stuff the plastic bags in the hotel trash bin.

These plastic bags end up in a landfill that pollutes Morocco’s air. There are plenty of better ways to leave your mark on the places you visit! Reusable bags mean fewer bags for you to keep track of and less waste for you to leave behind.

Want to level up your green game? Not all bags marketed as eco-friendly or biodegradable really are. Make sure you do your research before you buy your bags. To be a truly zero-waste traveler you need to consider the entire life cycle of the product. Find out how much non-renewable energy was used and how much waste was created in the making of the bag. This CBC article lists cotton bags as one of the best choices for reusable bags. 

Good news: According to the Center for Biological Diversity, a leading conservation organization, as of 2018, 24 states, including Hawaii, have made local laws to cut down on plastic bags. 127 countries have made laws to limit plastic bags.

2. Eco-friendly Water Bottles

Whenever you can safely avoid it, don’t buy bottled water. Single-use plastic bottles hurt the planet.

Don’t reuse a single-use plastic water bottle. Single-use plastic collects bacteria that can make you sick.

Instead, pack a BPA-free reusable water bottle. It’s cheaper, easier, and better for you and the Earth.

Say you’re lounging on one of Bermuda‘s pink-sand beaches. You’re enjoying a sunbath when you realize how thirsty you are.

You head over to a food stand and buy a few water bottles. At the end of your beach day, you pack up your things but leave the empty water bottles behind. The plastic ends up in the garbage. It takes one plastic bottle 450 years to fully decompose.

Want to level up your green game? According to the EcoHub, a site dedicated to all things green, stainless steel water bottles are best for the environment.  

Good news: In 2024, the United Nations will enact a binding treaty to stop plastic pollution.

3. Sustainable Toiletry Containers

If you’re sensing a theme here, you’re not wrong. Reusable items are key to zero-waste travel. Instead of bringing full-size hair and skincare bottles, use smaller reusable ones with the right amount for your trip.

Imagine you’re flying home after an amazing time in the Amazon Rainforest.

On your way home from Brazil, you remember leaving your full-size bottles of shampoo and hairspray in the hotel bathroom. These single-use plastic items turn into waste. And now you have to buy new bottles when you get home.

When you pack reusable toiletry bottles, you don’t have to lug your full-size bottles. Also, you won’t have to use the small toiletries the hotel gives you. Plus, you won’t have to worry about liquid limits at the airports.

Want to level up your green game? According to the popular travel site Gravel, silicone-based bottles are the best for the environment. These have the added bonus of being squeezable so you can use every drop of product and keep your waste low. 

Good news: According to SchengenVisa News, a site dedicated to helping visitors to the Schengen Area of Europe, some hotel chains have started to do away with small single-use toiletry bottles in an effort to reduce waste. This is great news because, according to Gravel, though these bottles are small, most travelers only use 20% of the liquid in them, wasting the rest.  

4. Ocean-Safe Sunscreen

Anyone who spends time in the sun knows how important sunscreen is. But not every brand of sunscreen is as great for the environment as it is for you. If you’re looking at brands, make sure they say they’re ocean-safe and reef-safe. This way you can be sure that your sunscreen won’t hurt marine life.

Let’s say you’re enjoying the gentle waves in Bali. You put on your chemical sunscreen so you aren’t worried about the hot sun. Unfortunately, for the ocean you’re swimming in, the sunscreen isn’t so safe.

The sunscreen harms coral, breaks food chains, and damages and hurts fish. You might think that it’s okay to use sunscreen that isn’t safe for the ocean or reefs. After all, you’re just one person. But just think about the effect of millions of global travelers hitting the beaches each year wearing unsafe sunscreen.

Want to level up your green game? As sustainable travel continues to grow in popularity, more sunscreens are using words like ‘reef-friendly’, ‘ocean-friendly, or biodegradable. As a general rule, check out the ingredients listed on the back. If you see anything that looks like a chemical, or that you can’t easily pronounce, chances are it’s not as safe for marine life as it says it is. 

Good news: Tree Hugger, an influential site dedicated to sustainability, says that switching to reef-safe, biodegradable sunscreen can make a positive difference to marine life.

5. Zero-waste Snack Bags

When you’re sightseeing for the day, it’s always good to pack snacks. You never know when you might get hungry. Things like dried fruit, granola, or nuts are great walking-around foods.

Regular plastic baggies will hold these foods just fine, but they aren’t reusable. This means they’re likely to end up in the garbage. Instead, pack a few reusable snack bags, so you can satisfy your hunger without being wasteful.

Want to level up your green game? Think about traveling with stainless steel bento boxes. This container will have several divided sections for multiple snacks.  While these take up more space in your suitcase, they are more durable and even better for the environment than reusable bags. 

Good news: According to researchers at Penn State University, one reusable bag can save 22,000 bags.

6. Cloth Napkins & Reusable Cutlery

Pack a few cloth napkins, a reusable fork, a knife, and a spoon. That way you can have zero-waste meals wherever you go.

Imagine sitting in a charming French bistro in the heart of Paris. The smell of freshly baked croissants and strong coffee fills the air. When you bring along your reusable place setting, you can enjoy everything on the menu without adding to the waste.

Want to level up your green game? According to Mindset Eco, a leading eco lifestyle site, linen napkins are more eco-friendly than others because they’re made from flax seed. 

Good news: Extended Stay America, a leading travel site, has put together a list of things travelers can do to be more sustainable, including using reusable dining-ware. 

7. Solar-Powered Charger

Electricity uses up non-renewable energy. So when you’re packing you’ll want to look for electronics that don’t waste resources. A solar-powered charger can keep your phone and other devices charged all day long by using the sun for power.

Picture yourself strolling around Shanghai with a low phone battery. Instead of looking for power outlets, you can just charge your phone quickly by plugging it into a solar charger.

Want to Level up your green game? Calling all campers! Camping gives us a great opportunity to get out your solar-powered gear. Here are some other gadgets for your zero-waste outdoor adventures.  

Good news: If most of us use solar power, the United States could have a carbon-free electricity grid by 2035.

8. Travel-sized Compost Bins & Bags

Bring along a small compost bin or bag for food scraps if you’re camping or staying in places where you can compost. This way organic waste stays out of landfills and can actually help the environment.

Picture yourself scrambling eggs over a campfire as the sun comes up over the Rockies. You don’t have to throw your waste into the garbage. Instead, you can drop your eggshells and leftover crumbs in the compost bag or bin and compost them whenever you’re ready.

Want to level up your green game? If you’re new to composting, you can learn more about how to compost on the go at Honestly Modern, a notable eco lifestyle site

Good news: Reseachers at Indiana University say that soil mixed with compost can hold 2.5 times more water than soil without compost. This means that less water is needed to keep soil rich and rejuvenating. 

9. Travel-sized Eco Laundry Soap

Going on a longer trip? Bring some travel-sized eco-friendly laundry soap with you so you can wash your clothes. That way you can give your swimsuit a quick wash before taking a dip in the Atlantic. And it doesn’t hurt the planet.

Want to level up your green game? Think laundry sheets. According to Consumer Reports, in an eco-friendly battle between pods, powders and sheets, laundry sheets are the clear winners. And they’re great for travelers, as they’re light and take up very little space. 

Good news: The Environmental Protection Agency has compiled a list of products they call ‘safer choices’ when it comes to sustainability. Here’s a look at what they recommend for laundry detergents.

By adding these items to your suitcase you are on your way to becoming a responsible traveler. With green travel accessories like these, you can explore the world proudly, while protecting it for generations of travelers to come. Want more tips for sustainable travel? We’ve got you covered.

Eco-friendly Travel Tips to Keep In Mind When Buying Your Accessories

Being a zero-waste traveler can take a bit of a commitment but it can also be gratifying to know you’re doing things that reduce your carbon footprint. Because some brands misuse terms like ‘eco-friendly’ and even ‘biodegradable’ to sell their products, finding truly sustainable travel accessories takes a bit of legwork. Here are a few tips to help you evaluate a product’s sustainability before you buy it.  

Consider the entire lifecycle of the product: You’ll want to think about how the product was made, how many people will be using it, and where it will end up when you’re done using it. 

Material Selection: Choose products made from sustainable and biodegradable materials like bamboo, stainless steel, glass, or organic cotton. Avoid products with harmful chemicals or materials that don’t break down easily.

Packaging: Look for products with little to no plastic packaging. Brands that use recycled or recyclable packaging are a good choice.

Multi-Functionality: Choose products that serve multiple purposes. For example, a multipurpose soap can be used for body, hair, and laundry.

Durability: Invest in high-quality, durable products that will last a long time, reducing the need for replacements and further waste.

Compact and Lightweight: Choose compact and lightweight zero-waste products for travel to minimize your carbon footprint. These items are easier to carry and reduce transportation emissions.

Energy-Efficient: If your products require power, opt for energy-efficient options, such as solar-powered chargers or low-energy LED lanterns.

Local and Handmade: Support local artisans and craftspeople by purchasing zero-waste products made in the region you’re visiting. Handmade items often have a smaller carbon footprint.

Repairability: Prioritize products that are easy to repair or replace parts for. This extends the lifespan of the item and reduces waste.

Research Brands: Before buying, research and choose brands that have a strong commitment to sustainability and ethical practices. Look for certifications like Fair Trade or B Corp.

Do You Have Everything For Your Next Eco-Friendly Trip?

Here’s a handy packing checklist of travel items every eco-friendly traveler must take along on their adventures!

Remember that zero-waste travel isn’t just about the products you use but also about your habits. Always aim to reduce waste by packing consciously, reusing items whenever possible, and disposing of waste responsibly by recycling or composting when available.