People nowadays are very dependent on disposable items, especially when traveling. From single-use water bottles to take-out food containers, we all want disposable things to lighten our luggage. However, considering the population of tourists in a particular country every year, even a single person’s trash will add up to tons and tons of garbage which leaves a negative effect on the country we visit and on the world. It has come to a point where some countries are having a hard time keeping up with waste created by their tourists.
Likewise, even if the biggest contributors to waste are restaurants, airlines, and hotels, one person changing their habits can make a big difference in the long run. Whether you are just beginning to practice leaving an eco-friendly footprint or have been doing it for a long time, here are some of the advantages of going zero-waste while traveling.
Zero Waste Helps Reduce Harmful Emissions on Our Climate
According to the U.S. EPA, production and use of materials including packaging, food, and other products account for almost half of the earth’s greenhouse gas discharges. Reusing, reducing and recycling can help conserve energy used in producing these materials and help diminish carbon emissions.
At the rate we are going, there will come a time when our consumption will be greater than the supply available. Getting raw materials to create or manufacture new products requires a lot of energy and contributes to pollution – whether drilling for fuel, mining minerals, or felling trees. The sad part is, once these materials are produced for consumption, they will just be thrown in landfills and will be a complete and utter waste. Imagine all the resources spent just to have them added to a garbage heap in the end.
However, applying a zero-waste method saves natural resources and decreases pollution from extraction, production, and destruction. Reducing and recycling would mean less production of disposables and people using more long-lasting items. In addition, recycling reduces landfill waste and also gives manufacturers an alternative to raw materials in making new items.
Zero Waste Promotes Social Fairness and Shapes Communities
Do not underestimate your zero waste efforts in a foreign country, as it affects the community more than you will ever know.
By going zero waste when you travel, even in your small act, you can help uphold community health and support poor communities. This is where the saying “your trash is somebody’s treasure” comes in. Useful items or goods that are of little or no value to you can be re-distributed to people who are in need such as clothes and the like.
Also, by going zero-waste, you can help protect the health of the places you are visiting by reducing soil, water, and air pollution brought about by incinerators and landfills.
Zero Waste Travel – It is Worth Saving the Future for the Next Generation
Now that the advantages of zero waste have been laid down, what next? It is important to remember that going to zero waste is a process and a conscious effort. It is also a challenge, especially when you are traveling as it involves a lot of paper, plastic, and other disposable items that can take up a lot of room in your luggage.
While going zero waste cannot be achieved overnight, here are some tips that you can implement for starters.
We buy the most up-to-date and expensive smartphones and gadgets for a reason – to make our lives easier. But you can also use this to help save our environment, especially when traveling. Printed items like train and plane tickets, boarding passes, and the like can all be downloaded to your phone and save the paper.
Even travel itineraries and maps can be paperless as there are tons of applications you can install to help you with your vacation. Not only will you have to carry fewer items in your luggage, but you will also help reduce waste.
Bring Reusable Items
Avoid disposing of single-use items during your trip by bringing your reusable items like drinking bottles, utensils, tote bags, and the like. Some people also have the habit of buying disposable toiletries like toothbrushes, razors, and even undergarments. The extra luggage weight of bringing reusable toiletries to save the environment will be worth it.
Strengthen Your Cardio
Whenever possible, instead of taking a cab or a private car to a nearby restaurant or attraction, exercise your legs and walk. Not only will you reduce your carbon footprint, but walking will also benefit your overall health. Likewise, if going for a ride is unavoidable, opt for public transports or paid group tours to reduce the carbon footprint you leave behind.
Avoid Take Outs and the Drive-Thru
Visiting a drive-thru or ordering in would mean the use of disposable bags, food containers, drinking cups, and straws – that is a lot of waste for one meal. To help conserve our natural resources, you can opt to eat at restaurants while on vacation. When you are too tired to do so, you can just head down to your hotel’s cafeteria or cook your meals.
Whether you are at home or outside discovering the world, we must exert a conscious effort in preserving our resources and going zero-waste, not only for ourselves and the country we are visiting but for future generations as well.