Going plastic-free – it’s the GOOD way to travel

Angela Nielsen
Jul 23, 2023

It is near impossible to go anywhere in the world without finding traces of plastic, and given that only 9% of all plastic ever produced is estimated to have been recycled it is no wonder. From the once unspoiled Arctic Circle to the most remote islands in the Pacific there is evidence of humans’ love of plastic and poor efforts to dispose of it appropriately.

Particularly concerning is the amount of plastic found in our seas and the awful consequences on our wildlife that scientists continue to discover. A recent article by IDIVEBLUE estimates that the ocean contains 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic. According to the University of Queensland, more than 50% of sea turtles have eaten plastic debris, while a study by scientists from The National University of Ireland, Galway found that over 70% of deep water fish have plastic particles inside them. A study published in the journal PNAS estimates that a staggering 90% of seabirds have likely ingested some plastics. These animals are mistaking small pieces of plastic for food, which are not only full of toxic chemicals but can clog their intestines, causing them to starve.

The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish if we continue on this path of producing more and more plastics and failing to dispose of them correctly.

This is an issue the whole world needs to be addressing urgently. Thankfully it seems many countries, businesses and individuals are becoming more conscious of the amount of single use plastics they are respectively producing and consuming and finding ways to minimise waste.

Here at GOOD Travel we strongly encourage our travellers to be mindful of their environmental footprint, and reducing their consumption of single use plastics is a key way to do this.

Even if you are consciously trying to reduce waste on a daily basis, it is particularly easy while travelling to fall into the trap of using more single-use plastic items than you normally would. Plastic is undeniably convenient when you are away from home and only need things for a short time. Think of all those little shampoo and body wash bottles at hotels – they’re so cute, and who doesn’t like complimentary stuff right? But are they really necessary? Let’s be honest, the products in them are often not that great, so really what is the appeal?

And what about when you’re on the plane, or dining out at street food stalls, or visiting local markets? The disposable cutlery, chop sticks, polystyrene and plastic takeaway containers, straws, cups, bags… how often do you find yourself using these items to be thrown away after one use? What if next time you whipped out your own set of reusable cutlery or chop sticks, straws and drink bottle? Or if you said no to a plastic bag and popped your new purchase into your own reusable bag? How satisfying would that be - knowing the waste you have just avoided?

We have ideas galore for ways you can reduce waste while travelling. Here are our top tips:

  • Airlines go through a ridiculous amount of disposable plastic cups quenching the thirst of their passengers. Bring a reusable cup on the plane and pass it to the flight attendant when you ask for a drink. We love this collapsible pocket cup that can be used for both hot and cold drinks from No!W.
  • Bring your own utensils on board so that you don’t need to open the plastic-packaged cutlery provided. While you may have trouble getting a knife and fork through today’s super strict airport security, how about your own chopsticks and spoon?
  • Have you ever stopped to think about how much plastic waste comes from airlines providing headphones packaged in plastic? And the headphones aren’t even any good! Save yourself the frustration of not being able to hear half the conversations in your in-flight movie by bringing your own quality headphones on board and avoid the plastic waste.
  • Remember how your grandma was so fond of handkerchiefs? Well, granny was on to something because they are so much better for the environment than going through countless wipes, tissues and napkins. Keep a handful of hankies close at hand while travelling and just remember to wash them when you get the chance!
  • Tote bags are in so don’t forget to pack a few in your suitcase on your next holiday. Old or young, male or female – tote bags totally rock for any kind of shopping excursion and you’ll be able to say no to all those single-use plastic bags offered to you everywhere you shop.
  • Wet bags are also a great alternative to plastic bags. Made from water-repellent fabric they can be very useful for carrying wet clothes, dirty shoes or your used reusable dishes. Just wash the bags after each use and they’re good to go again! 
  • Absolutely do not forget your reusable water bottle! Even if you’re travelling to a place where the tap water is not safe, just make sure to fill your bottle up whenever you come across filtered or boiled water.
  • Did you know that every plastic toothbrush ever made still exists today? When stocking up your toiletry bag for your next holiday go for a toothbrush that is biodegradable, like the Big Little Brush through Twice as GOOD. Not only will you be avoiding plastic but you’ll also be supporting remote Indigenous communities in Australia as well as the educational aspirations of children in rural Tanzania!
  • Fill up travel-sized reusable bottles with your favourite shampoo, conditioner and body wash at home and say no to the little bottles at your hotel. Or better still, use products from companies trying to avoid plastic altogether such as Ethique who have developed an entirely plastic-free solid beauty product range with 100% compostable packaging.
  • Please please say no to straws! While it may be a fun way to drink your cocktails,they are not necessary and detrimental to the environment. If you feel that straws are unavoidable for certain drinks – say a fresh coconut, then how about investing in your own stainless-steel straw like these ones from No!W? You’ll be sure to impress the bartender with your preparedness!
  • We love this great trip from one of our GOOD travellers – learn how to say “no plastic bag thank you” or “no straw thank you” in the local language!
  • Imagine this – you’re going out to try some delicious local street food for dinner. You order your noodles and just as they are about to serve them to you in a disposable polystyrene container you proudly reach in to your super cool travel tote and pull out your own reusable bowl and chopsticks! “Ta da!” you say as you hand it over to the street vendor while their jaw drops. When you’ve finished your delicious meal, you pop the dirty dishes into your handy reusable wet bag and take them back to your accommodation to wash. Bam! You just saved the world from some unnecessary waste.

We recognise that it can be difficult to avoid all single use plastics while travelling, so when you do find yourself with a plastic bottle or bag or wrapper, please make sure you dispose of it correctly and recycle when you can.

Make it a challenge on your next travel adventure to see just how much plastic you can avoid and send us your tips on other ways to avoid waste!

July 23, 2023
5 min read