Is it possible to Zero Waste travel? Well…yes and no.
If you read this post, you will understand that Zero Waste does not literally mean zero waste. Currently, with the state of our economy (linear), it is impossible not to produce any amount of trash; waste happens, and always remember that it is okay.
Transportation and the tourism industry are major contributors to pollution and climate change. Other than biking and walking, vehicle transportation methods generate large amounts of carbon emissions due to the burning of fossil fuels; air travel contributing the most to air pollution. The tourism industry generates an abundance of waste each year due to food, entertainment, accommodation, construction, etc.
Fortunately, it is possible to lessen your trash output while wandering about. On the other hand, traveling and tourism will indeed generate waste. So, yes you can maintain your Zero Waste lifestyle and essentially “Zero Waste travel”, but to an extent. Moreover, you will most likely produce more trash and leave a bigger carbon footprint than you normally do. Do not let that ruin your experience. Have fun and simply do what you can to avoid waste and offset those carbon emissions. I believe Zero Waste travel means to continue your daily efforts by bringing your own and refusing what you can while on the road, in the air, or boating across the sea.
We Need Travel
Although transportation and the tourism industry are major contributors to air and land pollution, I believe it to be a necessary part of our lives. Some may see my traveling as hypocritical. I advocate for Zero Waste and living life with less trash, yet I dive into tourism and transportation being fully aware of the carbon emissions and waste that will come of it. I understand the irony, but it is what it is. No person, action, or thing is perfect!
Our current world is high tech and fast paced. We are fortunate enough to wake up in New York City and fall asleep in Vienna. What an amazing opportunity… I say take it if you can. Additionally, I do advocate for maintaining your Zero Waste lifestyle while traveling. Being on vacation does not mean you should forget about life and all its responsibilities. I think you should continue your Zero Waste habits and spread the word on Zero Waste wherever you travel to.
Zero Waste Travel Tips
Quick Tips List:
- Bring Your Own
- Download your plane ticket on your phone
- Plan your route thoroughly
- Purchase Carbon Offsets
- Bring snacks for the ride
- Shop at grocery stores or farmers markets to avoid fast food and excess packaging
- Shower less, walk more
Just like you would do on your non-traveling days, bring your own: water bottle, napkin, bags, utensils, coffee cup, hygiene products, etc. Click here to see what I took on my trip to Iceland! To put it simply, do what you can. I try and continue my normal daily routine and habits.
Other than carbon emissions, the tourism industry generates a lot of waste. Likewise, disposables are a key factor in waste the tourism industries puts out. Every hotel room has those complimentary travel size hygiene products. Vending machines with plastic wrapped food and plastic bottled beverages are abundant. We get food to-go, flyers handed to us, receipts with most purchases, trinkets to bring home to the family, etc.
Simply by bringing your own and refusing what you can, you are cutting out a large amount of that waste! Will that offset carbon emissions? No, unfortunately. However, every effort helps no matter how small. You can purchase offsets to lessen the blow. Click here to see how you can purchase carbon offsets and contribute to the fight against climate change. I also believe that thorough planning can help cut out some carbon emissions; know what route you have to take, carpool, walk as much as possible, rent a bike, etc. If you plan, you should not get lost. Therefore, you will not spend more gas trying to find your way.
Do Not Beat Yourself Up
Go travel. Do not avoid opportunities and experiences because you feel like you are being hypocritical or like you are single-handedly destroying the environment with your carbon footprint. None of that is accurate. Again, no person, thing, or action is perfect. Zero Waste is not about creating ZERO waste and completely avoiding a footprint on this planet. We all leave footprints. Zero Waste is about being mindful, conscious, and aware; making daily efforts, spreading the word, avoiding single-use, and consuming less.
Tourism is also not evil. Tourists are the heart of the tourism industry. The industry is pretty harsh on the environment, but it could be more sustainable and eco-friendly with our help and our individual efforts. For example, the more we avoid complimentary hotel room products, the less they will need to buy which means the less manufacturers will need to create. Also, as tourists, we can help maintain the land by making efforts like staying on sidewalks, paying attention to directions, not feeding wild animals, cleaning up after ourselves, and not trekking wherever we please. If a sign says to stay on the path, then stay on the path!
Please feel free to contact me with any Zero Waste related questions/comments/tips/experiences, etc! Do not forget to share this post on your social media page! Let’s be friends on Facebook, Instagram , Twitter , and YouTube too!