Zero Waste Tips for Travel

While traveling we sometimes alter our daily habits for convenience or out of a simple lack of knowing alternatives on the road. Hopefully these tips can help you navigate your next trip with a Zero Waste mindset.


Refusing helps curb the demand for and production of products and, like many of the waste reduction “R” words, can help keep the Earth’s natural resources in place. Before travelling, prepare in a way that negates the need for free promotional goods, samples, flyers, and restaurant disposables such as paper napkins and place mats, plastic utensils, straws, etc.

Reduce and Reuse:

  • Carry

    • a compact reusable shopping bag

    • a small cloth bag (for produce or baked goods so as to avoid disposable bags)

    • a handkerchief or cloth napkin (to wipe mouth and hands so as to avoid paper towels)

    • a stainless thermos

    • reusable utensils (careful not to bring metal utensils on an airplane!)

    • packed lunches and other meals for your time on the road (and pack them in reusable containers)

  • Use

    • baking soda as toothbrushing powder and deodorant

    • a bar of soap as shampoo and body/facial cleanser

    • Thieves oil as natural hand sanitizer

    • a smartphone, if you have one, to reduce a need to print many items such as boarding passes

  • Choose

    • restaurants that offer washable utensils

    • stores that have bulk foods

      • The Bulk Locator app identifies locations that offer bulk items, in the US and Canada. If the app comes up with nothing in your vicinity, look for farmers’ markets and health food stores

  • Travel by train when you can

    • trains leave a smaller carbon footprint than driving or flying

  • When traveling by air

    • bring your own meal (in a reusable container) and eat before boarding

    • pack your own earbuds, instead of accepting the ones offered from the airline

    • carry your own wrap or blanket (the airline’s is wrapped in plastic)

    • pack your own reusable cup or water bottle for the flight attendant to fill with beverages

  • Bottled water:

    • bring a reusable water bottle to fill at water fountains, bottle-filling stations, and in-flight

    • only resort to bottled water if the local water poses a health danger

  • Leftovers:

    • best to avoid while traveling, since most times leftover food goes to waste

    • when eating out, order small amounts at a time, ordering more as needed

    • if bread is left in a basket, take it with you (via your cloth bag or other reusable container)