Most people, especially travellers, are aware that plastic is a huge problem in today's world. It's bad news for our health and the environment. When you're travelling it may not seem easy to avoid plastic as well as you may be able to do at home - it is everywhere! Fortunately, there are some really simple steps you can take to lessen your plastic footprint while you're on the road. Here are 5 to get you started:
1. Bring a reusable water bottle
Plastic water bottles are one of the worst overuses of plastics that travellers are guilty of making. It's important to keep hydrated when travelling and you get through a load of water. Plus, you want to avoid getting sick so bottled water seems safer. The solution? Bring a reusable water bottle. In many places you'll be able to refill with safe drinking water. If you don't think this is going to be possible, consider investing in a special filter bottle. You can get some really amazing filters now which cut out all contaminants, bacteria, pathogens and viruses, making virtually any water safe to drink. The best have recyclable filters.
2. Ditch plastic straws and carrier bags
There are very few incidences in which plastic straws are necessary for the general population. They are an example of a completely avoidable use of plastic yet are so commonplace they're often provided even if you haven't asked for one. It's easy to make a small impact by quitting plastic straws! Simply refuse straws if they are offered to you, and don't be afraid of making a friendly suggestion to any bars or restaurants you visit that are still using them.
To avoid needing plastic carrier bags, remember to pack a soft reusable bag - some of them fold up really small so are perfect for travel.
3. Avoid tacky souvenirs
Do you really need another plastic keyring or fridge magnet? Although they may have pictures or words of the place you're visiting on them, chances are they were made on the other side of the world in a factory with questionable working conditions! Instead, ask around for ideas of local, sustainable crafts that will make a unique, durable and low-impact momento of your time in a country.
Local tip: In Wales, we produce beautiful woollen tapestry, products, traditional love spoons (check for sustainable wood), and artisan slate products.
4. Research your recycling options
Prevention is always better than cure and recycling does use energy, so avoiding plastic as far as possible is the ideal. However, where plastic use isn't easily avoided, try to find out what recycling facilities are available. Ask around - a local, a tourism information officer or a hotel concierge. Even if there aren't facilities available, simply asking the question can be powerful. Imagine the impact if every hotel guest asked about a hotel's recycling facilities!
5. Do a 5 minute beach clean
So maybe you're on holiday and just want to relax, but how good does it feel to leave somewhere a little bit better than when you arrived? To be part of the solution and not the problem. Our oceans are teeming with plastics, harmful to marine wildlife, and to our health, as plastic particles have been found to get in to the food chain. Beaches and shorelines see marine litter from hundreds to thousands of miles away wash up every day, endangering shore animals and seabirds in the process. It can seem like an overwhelming problem but just taking 5 minutes to pick up a few pieces of plastic while you're at the coast is a positive step. You may inspire others who see you doing it too. Again, imagine if everyone who visited did this!
Do you have any tips for reducing your plastic use while travelling? Please share your ideas with everyone by commenting below.
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Image Courtesy of Keattikorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net