Yve Ramírez, AKA La Ecocosmopolita, author of the book “Vida residuo cero” and founder of the online shop Usar y Reusar, tells us how to travel more sustainably and without generating any waste. And it's not so difficult!
“When we travel, we are guests in the destination and we should behave better than we do at home." I love these words by La Ecocosmopolita because I think they really hit the nail on the head about why the zero-waste travel philosophy is so important. For sure, when we go on holiday we want to relax and forget all about rules, but by being just a little more organised you can travel much more sustainably. Here are a few tips on how to do it.
Carry on reading if...
… honestly, if you like travelling, this will interest you. Nowadays, everyone knows that waste is a very serious issue with a major impact on nature. As La Ecocosmopolita says, “As consumers, we're part of the problem but we can be part of the solution as well."
La Ecocosmopolita's checklist for travelling more sustainably.
- There's no need to print out your bookings. If you're travelling by plane, check in online and carry your boarding pass on your phone. As for the hotel, you'll only need your booking details and ID.
- Use a digital guide. Why buy a printed guidebook that you'll probably only use once and will have to cart around with you for the entire trip?
- Forget about the hotel amenities. Travel with your own personal care products. You can take shampoo, soap and other products in solid form - they're not only lighter that way but more sustainable as well.
- ALWAYS take reusable bottles. That way, you won't have to buy bottled water. More and more airport have drinking fountains, so if you're travelling by plane you can fill up your bottle once you've passed through security.
- And if you do have to buy a bottle of water, try and make it a big one! If the water at your destination is poor quality, buy a big container of water and leave at the place where you're staying so that you can fill up your reusable bottles every day.
- Put some cloth bags in your case. Use large ones for groceries and small ones to buy bread, pasta, nuts, fruit and vegetables, etc. without any waste.
- Take a few reusable containers, cutlery, picnic plates, etc. Use them to buy takeaways or fresh products without any plastic.
- Find out if there are any bulk shops on your route. You may be in for a surprise! Municipal markets and traditional shops are a bulk shopper's paradise. Find out the ones near you and their opening times and use them. Still not got into bulk shopping? Find out everything you need to know here.
- If you can't avoid containers, at least avoid plastic. Glass, tin, paper and cardboard containers are better.
- Avoid fast-food places. They usually serve the food on disposable materials. Plus, you'll avoid junk food as well!
- Order drinks without straws (unless you need them because of health problems). There's no point wasting plastic for just a few minutes' use when it remains on the planet for decades or centuries.
- Find out about the waste collection systems at your destination. Then separate the waste you produce accordingly so that it can be recycled correctly.
And above all…
Avoid all disposable plastic and disposables in general: straws, cups, plates, cutlery. Single-use bags, especially plastic ones, and drinks in plastic bottles. It might seem like an enormous effort but it's simply a question of having the correct alternatives to hand.
One last tip?
Every time you're on the point of buying something during your trip, ask yourself whether you're really going to use it, whether the origin is sustainable and what impact it will have on the planet when you no longer use it. Does it contribute to a fairer and healthier planet? Are you buying directly from a local craftsman or woman? Then it's a great souvenir!
Want to find out more...?
If you travel to a nature area and find some rubbish, you could spend a little time leaving it better than you found it. The #5Minutesbeachcleanup challenge asks just that: spend five minutes picking up any waste you find in your path. If that seems too much, pick up three (#coge3) pieces of waste and dispose of them in the correct containers. And if you want to do more, join the #trashchallenge: take a photograph of a place littered with rubbish, clean it all up and then take another photograph to show the difference and encourage others to do the same.