Can you believe it?! Yesterday was the last day of Plastic Free July! We’ve had an enlightening plastic-free month, confronting plastic in our daily lives and figuring out fun and fulfilling ways to avoid it. If you’re new to this series, check out our previous posts on Going Plastic Free at Home, and Plastic-Free Self Care Tips.
One important thing we’ve learned this month while doing Plastic Free July is that if you want to be successful, planning ahead is essential. This becomes even more important if you’re on the go or traveling – we know you don’t want to get stuck having to buy needlessly plastic-wrapped food or drinks at the last minute. This list of tips will help ensure that you’re well prepared and ready to live a plastic-free life even in the busiest of times!
Here’s an easy and effective way to reduce your single-use plastic consumption – skip the disposable coffee cups, straws, and drink bottles! Easy steps include keeping your reusable coffee mug at hand (any café will be happy to fill it up), purchasing a metal straw you can carry with you and always having a reusable water bottle. We love Keep Cups for coffee and Klean Kanteen as travel bottles, but you’ll find a lot of different options on the market.
If you desperately need to purchase a drink, try to get it in a glass bottle so you can keep it for other uses afterward or recycle it. If glass is not possible, go for an aluminum can and recycle it. Glass and aluminum are infinitely recyclable, meaning that they can be re-created into the same item again and again. Plastic, on the other hand, is downgraded into lesser quality materials every time it’s recycled.
If you find yourself without your reusable mug but needing caffeine (we’ve been there!), try to avoid the plastic lid, and find out if the cup is recyclable. Did you know that if you buy coffee in a disposable cup three times a week that’s 156 cups of coffee that end up in a landfill in only one year!?
Hot tip: say no to drink stirrers at your local coffee shop and suggest they switch to un-cooked pasta noodles as stir sticks as a way to create less waste :)
Cutlery & Tupperware
Rather than opting for convenience and grabbing that plastic fork to eat your lunch, try to think ahead and pack cutlery with you. It’s much easier than it sounds! Invest in some bamboo or metal cutlery – this great set comes in a case that’s easy to fit in your bag, purse or briefcase. Most takeaway restaurants will be happy to put salads or sandwiches into your own Tupperware container, look at purchasing metal and tin re-usable containers which are more durable and long-lasting than plastic. If you need some inspiration for bringing your reusables to cafes and restaurants, check out our good friend Ethically Kate – she’s never afraid to bring her own tools!
If you’re a professional snacker like me, it can seem daunting trying to not buy a granola bar or snack while you’re on the move. A great way to avoid the plastic packaging on snacks is to meal and snack prep for the week so you don’t have to buy food while on-the-go. Most stores have a bulk section, which will help if you want to make your own trailmix or granola bars.
Take-Out & Delivery
This one is tricky as there really isn’t much you can do to avoid the delivery person using plastic. If you live close to the restaurant try to walk to pick up your food. Otherwise, when putting in your order request that the restaurant leaves out the plastic cutlery and bags.
Finally, a great tip is to leave some cloth bags in your car. This will help you if you are in a bind and for some reason need a bag but don’t want to be stuck with using plastic. Did you know that 102 billion plastic bags are used by Americans every year! That’s an enormous amount of plastic used for no reason really.
If you’re having a busy week and need to stay prepared, assemble your own little plastic-free bag for your car or backpack. This bag would house all the essential items you need with you to stay plastic-free - like a reusable bag, cutlery, coffee cup, fruits or pre-made snacks, and a water bottle.
While traveling try to avoid the hair products provided by hotels, these small product bottles are one of the most common plastic waste items found in the ocean! Instead, pack your own shower products in reusable leak-proof bottles like these ones.
You could also use bars of soap, shampoo, and conditioner and save them in metal tins. Check out our last Plastic Free July post for more tips and product suggestions.
This is a tough one, usually the meals offered on airplanes are wrapped in LOTS of plastic. In order to avoid this, plan ahead and bring pre-made snacks and food with you. We love bringing sandwiches, fruit and trail mix, it leaves us feeling much better than the salty airplane food anyways! Be sure to find out before-hand if customs will let you bring food through as different countries have varying regulations. Bring your reusable water bottle but make sure it’s empty before you go through customs, most airports and airplanes have places to refill your bottle.
Try to shop at local markets while you’re traveling. This is a great way to get to know the area you’re staying in while eating fresh local produce and avoiding plastic. Bring your re-usable cloth bag and have fun testing out the local cuisine. If you’re buying street food, make sure you avoid the plastic containers that it comes in! Travel with your own food box or re-usable bowl so you’re prepared for anything.
Stop Buying Travel-Sized Products
Although it may seem convenient and save you extra space in your suitcase don’t buy travel sized products. The product is usually so small that after a few uses you will simply be throwing it out again. Instead opt for something like the shampoo bars we discussed in the last Plastic Free July post.
We hope these tips are helpful! If/when you forget your reusables, don’t beat yourself up – one of the best parts of Plastic Free July is learning where you encounter single-use plastics in different parts of your life. Planning ahead and being plastic-free on the go will be that much easier!
Make sure to share this blog with your family and friends and join us in being part of a plastic-free future!