How to build the ultimate traveller’s Zero Waste kit

It’s Plastic Free July! And though it may be a buzz-kill, we want to address the plastic pollution that continues to emerge in our oceans, on our beaches and beyond, and how you can play a role in its demise.

In her new hands-on book, A Zero Waste Life in Thirty Days, Anita Vandyke shares an alarming truth: around the world, 500 billion single-use plastic bags are used every year. That tallies up to a startling million bags being purchased and thrown away at any given minute, into our oceans, our forests and beyond.

It's a plastic world
Anyone else feel stifled in this plastic world? Photo: Velizar Ivanov/Unsplash

Now, here’s the part where everything looks a bit brighter: as travellers, we have several inexpensive (and often free) ways to limit our waste both abroad and at home. By carrying with us a lightweight array of reusable objects, we can reduce the negative impact we have on this beautiful planet.

Read also: The top eco-sustainable luxury resorts in Southeast Asia

The basics: Eating

What you need
When it comes to living a plastic-free life on the go, there are a few simple reusable objects that’ll dramatically limit a person’s waste output: a metal straw, water bottle, takeaway container, cloth napkin, and portable utensils. (As an extra precaution, keep a few handy tote bags or fabric pouches just in case you buy any snacks along the way.)

Where can you get them?
All of these can be found locally, or online, and will fit neatly into most bags, ready to spring into action at any restaurant, airport or hawker-filled street market.

Read also: Everything you should know about eco-sustainable tourism

The basics: In the bathroom

One of the most overlooked places for plastic waste while travelling is the hotel bathroom. If you’re like us, those cute little plastic-wrapped toiletries once provided a perfect way for us to pack less – but is it worth it when you consider that most plastic, even if it’s recycled, ends up in a landfill?

By swapping out your disposable toiletries with reusable containers and sustainable brands, a Zero Waste Toiletry kit can replace even the most advanced skincare routines.

What you need
A few common alternatives include a bamboo toothbrush, a safety razor, a wooden comb/brush, silk floss, a solid bar of soap (in a portable metal case), and an all-natural toothpaste and deodorant (in a glass or cardboard container). These Zero Waste swaps won’t take up too much space in a suitcase, and the planet will definitely appreciate it.

Three fast rules

#1 Be prepared
For anyone considering a Zero Waste (or Low Impact) lifestyle, think ahead and be prepared; waste happens when we least expect it.

#2 Stay mindful
As long as we’re staying mindful of our actions, and doing the best we can to limit our impact on the Earth, then we’re achieving that goal.

#3 Start small
It’s easy to look at Zero Waste Instagram accounts and feel intimidated, but we don’t have to be Instagram-perfect in order to be doing our best. The best Zero Waste lifestyle is saving the Earth one step at a time.

Brent Taalur

Our very own Wasteless Wanderer with a passion for all things reusable. When he’s not flipping through one of the 300 books currently on his reading list, he can be found exploring vintage bookstores and his favourite street markets. Once a fashion journalist in New York City and Paris, he now devotes most of his time to writing and advocating for Zero Waste in Kuala Lumpur and across Asia.

  1. Since I am also very interested in this topic and I would love to start my first step. Thanks for the advice.
    However, it would be very lovely if you can recommend brands and products in particular for us to purchase, both retail stores and websites.
    That will be very helpful for starters.

    1. Thanks Ian, glad it was helpful! We’ll be publishing an article with store and brand recommendations very soon, stay tuned.

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