According to a AAA Travel survey, more than 100 million people in the United States alone will embark on some kind of trip this summer. That’s a whole lot of traveling! Taking a trip can be a great way to broaden your perspective and get some much needed relaxation time, but it can also be very wasteful.
Travel doesn’t have to involve so much waste though. There are some things you can do to be a zero waste traveler. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
Use up your perishable foods
If you’re heading off for a two week adventure across the world but your fridge is still full, you’re setting yourself up for a zero waste nightmare! If the food in your refrigerator spoils, not only will you be accidentally creating a lot of waste, but you’ll be creating a mess to clean up too.
Shop smart in the week leading up to your trip, and be sure to eat any perishable items before you go. If you have to, you can wrap and freeze some of the items in your fridge before you depart.
Do meal prep
If you’re about to head off on an epic, cross-country road trip, it can be tempting to go buy a bunch of food from the grocery store, like sandwiches and pre-prepared stuff. But these things are often wrapped up in single-use plastics that just create more waste. Instead, prep the foods you want to eat at home and store them in a cooler. This will help cut out the wastefulness of single-use plastic packaging.
Unplug your home
Before you leave, give your home a once-over and unplug anything that you won’t be using. Some electronics have what’s called a ‘phantom electric draw.’ This means they continue to use electricity, even when turned off. Phantom draw can account for up to 15% of your energy bill. You’ll be saving money AND the planet by unplugging!
Another pro tip: in the winter, set your thermostat to 50 degrees fahrenheit to save energy. This will help save a ton on your heating bill while you’re gone.
Say no to hotel amenities
Hotels like to offer lots of amenities to their customers – things like individually wrapped soaps, tiny shampoo bottles, and little plastic cups. It can be enticing to use these items. They’re such a convenience! But a lot of paper and plastic is used unnecessarily in the process.
When you’re staying at a hotel, be sure to bring your own soaps, toiletries, and reusable mugs and cups from home. This will help cut down on the waste you produce while you travel.
Book direct flights
Here’s something that might surprise you: planes use more fuel at takeoff and landing than during the flight itself. If you have a series of connecting flights, you’re actually increasing the amount of fuel needed to get you from point A to point B. When possible, try to find direct flights from one city to the next.
Pack only what you need
It’s easy to overpack when taking a trip someplace, but think hard about exactly what you’re going to be wearing and using while you’re away. The more weight you carry onto a plane, the more fuel that plane will expend getting you from place to place. For one person, the fuel might be negligible, but if everyone packed a bit lighter, a lot of fuel could be saved!
Once upon a time, travelers needed to carry sometimes pages of documentation about their itinerary. But these days, airlines have apps that you can use to show security and airline employees your tickets. Going paperless will help reduce a bit of waste while traveling.
Cover your footprint
According to one analysis, it would take about 20 trees to cover the carbon footprint of a flight from New York to Berlin. That’s not too bad, right? One way you could go about planting those trees is by picking up a couple items from the tentree store. We plant 10 trees for each item purchased! Not only will trees be planted, but you’ll be traveling in style too.