It’s not so hard to avoid one-use plastic at home, but what about while traveling? Here’s how to take a plastic-free vacation.
As trash continues to build up on our planet, it’s more important than ever to cut down on waste. Plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose, and much of it is floating around in the ocean. Some parts of the Caribbean Sea are so clogged with trash, you can hardly see the water underneath. Plastic waste has already caused so much harm to sea life, the environment, and Caribbean tourism.
So before you head off to the sunny shores of the Caribbean islands (or wherever else you may go), pack a few extras in your bag. These items will help you drastically reduce the amount of plastic you use while on the go. You may even achieve a completely plastic waste free vacation!
Things you’ll need for a plastic-free vacation
Yes, things can get much more hectic on vacation than they do at home, since you’ll probably eat out and shop more than you normally would. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do your part and make some environmentally- conscious choices. Here are a few things to pack that will make avoiding one-use plastic and styrofoam much easier:
1. A portable water bottle
Since it’s not a good idea to drink the tap water in most countries in the Caribbean, you’ll be tempted to buy endless amounts of bottled water. Avoid this completely by bringing your own reusable bottle. Besides helping save the environment, bottles from brands like Klean Kanteen and Hydro Flask can also keep your beverages cold or hot.
If you can’t find a place to fill your bottle up with drinkable water, follow these instructions to make the tap water safe. Alternatively, you could buy a large water jug at the grocery store and use it to fill your reusable bottle each day. At the very least, if you must buy one-use water bottles, avoid bringing them to the beach, where they can be whisked away by the wind and end up in the ocean. Fill your reusable bottle with water from a plastic water bottle.
You can also bring your bottle or reusable cup with you to beach bars or restaurants that may provide beverages in plastic or styrofoam cups. There’s nothing wrong with asking your waiter to serve your beverage in your reusable cup.
2. A reusable straw
Straws are one of the worst culprits for sea turtle, dolphin, and seahorse deaths. You’ve probably seen heartbreaking pictures of sea animals that have mistaken them for food. Worst of all, it’s so easy for straws to end up on the beach during your vacation, since many beaches are lined with tempting snack shacks serving cold drinks. Many countries and US states have already banned them entirely, or at least created laws that prohibit restaurants from providing them unless a customer asks for one.
Reusable straws are cheap, super portable, and many come with tools to clean them effectively. So, what are you waiting for? Grab one off Amazon and stash it in your bag for when the need arises.
3. Reusable, lightweight utensils
Picnics on the beach are lovely, but not when they leave behind unwanted souvenirs. Bring your own reusable utensils in order to avoid buying plastic cutlery. Here’s one set made out of sturdy bamboo that comes with a handy carrying case.
You can also bring your own reusable plate if you think you’ll be eating at snack shacks that might make use of styrofoam plates.
4. A sturdy grocery bag (or two)
Reusable grocery bags will come in handy on your vacation, especially if you’re staying in a Caribbean villa with a full kitchen. Forgo plastic grocery bags and use a sturdy tote like Chicobags or these canvas tote bags from Amazon. They double as beach bags or a picnic tote!
5. A bamboo toothbrush
Plastic toothbrushes must be changed every 2-3 months. However, they last a lifetime once they’re thrown into the landfill. Break the cycle and get one of these awesome, sustainable bamboo brushes. The planet will thank you for it! At just $9 for a pack of 8, you’ll spend the same amount you would for regular plastic brushes.
6. Silicone shampoo bottles
Avoid buying those little plastic travel bottles and invest in a set of reusable silicone containers. They’re leak proof, TSA approved, and easy to refill. What more could you ask for?
Likewise, you can get reusable silicone travel containers for hand cream and other toiletries, like these cute pastel silicone jars from Amazon.
Other ways to take a plastic-free vacation
Besides packing the items above in your suitcase and using them to cut down on waste, here are a few other ways to achieve a completely plastic-free vacation:
- Don’t get take out. Eat your meals in the restaurant instead of taking them back to the hotel. Many establishments still stash food in wasteful styrofoam boxes.
- Find out how to say “I don’t need a plastic bag” or “I don’t need a straw” in the local language. That way, you can politely refuse plastic shopping bags, straws, and other one-use items.
- Don’t buy sunscreen in plastic bottles. Cover up with lightweight clothing or scarves instead. Or, purchase natural sunscreen in sustainable containers. Chemical-filled sunscreen destroys coral reefs, and the plastic bottles often end up in our oceans.
- Bring your own snacks for airplane rides. Those little packets they give out in planes are low-quality and create needless trash. Stash your own snacks in reusable containers like this one from To-Go Ware. Or, you can wrap things like sandwiches and cookies in a bandana.
Did you find these tips for a plastic-free vacation useful? We hope you do– the Caribbean will thank you for it! Let us know what tips and tricks you use to make your vacation environmentally friendly in the comment section below.
Main image source: Getty images
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