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Homepage / Travel tips for a waste-free journey

Travel tips for a waste-free journey


Are you planning to travel soon for a holiday, conference, or meeting?

There are few simple steps that you can take to make your journey more environmentally friendly and avoid unnecessary waste!  It’s not about perfection; it’s about making better choices.

I do not know about you, but I often find myself packing the night before my trip, and often realising I do not have any hygiene products below 100 ml that can go in my carry-on luggage. Often I decide to directly purchase the overpriced mini-versions of conventional hygiene products, which will be eventually thrown away at the end of the trip. Next time? All over again. So much waste! With a little planning we can push ourselves to modify these little habits, reduce waste and save money. So what are the items you should consider packing for your next trip?


  1. Reusable water bottle; This is your must-have item! I have one at home, in the office, for the gym, for travelling, and next to my night stand table. Infinite possibilities are available, including stainless steel and collapsible bottles. Most of the airports now have drinkable water re-filling stations, so no excuses for not having one!
  2. Reusable coffee mug; If you are a coffee junkie (or a PhD student trying to write-up your thesis), and you buy coffee at every corner, you will soon realise how many cups per day make their way into the bin, sadly the lids are non-recyclable, and also the cups can be hard to recycle (paper cups can’t be recycled because they’re actually coated in plastic. That’s why they’re able to hold liquid without leaking). Nowadays several chains offer discounts if you bring your own cup! You can choose among many, I recommend the bamboo option which is also fully compostable, however you can also find some very good alternatives in glass or stainless steel.
  3. Reusable clear toiletries bag: How many times do we go to the airport and grab a handful of those Ziploc plastic bags? Needless to say, they are hardly reusable and often break or leak. Unfortunately I haven’t spotted a plastic free option yet (if you do please let me know), but it is still worth to have a look at some more sturdy option that can be used multiple times!
  4. Cutlery to go: This is a new item I added to my travel list, and it is a must have to be prepared for the unprepared! When travelling we often indulge in last minutes lunch/snacks, or eventually our flight is delayed and we need something in our stomach before hitting the road… unfortunately chains and restaurants that provide ‘to-go’ options are still heavily relying on single-use plastic. This makes me feel both sad and guilty, but do not fear! There are plenty of options out there, including bamboo, foldable, wood, and metal cutlery; you name it!
  5. Soap, shampoo, conditioner, and deodorant bars: This was a revolutionary addition to my travel kit, and it also drastically reduced the item that needs to go in the clear toiletries bag. Soap bars, shampoo bars, conditioner bars, and even deodorant bars are absolutely fantastic! A number of different companies offer a selection of plastic-free items which are good quality, effective, long lasting and easy to carry. A must try!
  6. Tooth-powder/tooth-paste: Tooth-paste is the most annoying item, I used to buy the little 15-30 ml containers and halfway through the holiday I had to buy additional ones or a larger one that will never end up being entirely used. Using tooth-powder is absolutely a different experience (less foam, less minty), but I found a large number of benefits and now it became part of my travel kit! Lately I found myself making my own powder and experimenting flavours which is super fun! However if you are not super crafty you can easily purchase it online. There are also other options available such as chewable toothpaste tablets (in glass or recyclable containers) which aren’t liquid or paste, so they can be carried on planes without taking up room.
  7. Reusable containers and a cotton tote-bag: because you never know what you are going to need whilst travelling!


Going zero waste in one day is not going to happen, however as Robert Swan (first person to walk to both Poles!) said, “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it”. With that said, we can all take baby steps to ensure we become responsible consumers, able to think about the life-cycle of the product(s) we purchase (how is it made? where is it coming from? Will it be recycled?) We need to constantly remind ourselves that our actions do have consequences and an impact on the planet “The people who make the biggest difference are the ones who do the little things consistently.”

If you are hungry for learning and desiring to constantly challenge and enrich yourself there are plenty of sources you can use, find my favourites below:


Sabrina Cipullo

Written By: Cranfield University

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