I recently flew overseas to visit family. It’s been quite a while since I’ve taken a flight and being in full swing of trying to make Plastic Free and Eco-Friendly choices, I started thinking how these could be extended to air travel.
First things first, I started with simply checking in online and sending my boarding pass to my cell phone instead of printing it out and wasting paper. Good start. Tick!
Next I packed my own earphones, so that I could avoid using the airline supplied ones, which always come in plastic bags. I never find that they fit comfortably anyway and spend most of the time trying to adjust them which irritates the daylights out of me (and my poor boyfriend who just wants to watch in peace). Most of us have our own trusty pair that we use during workouts, at work, during our daily commutes etc. So rather take those along when you next fly. Tick!
Toiletries are the worst for me in terms of plastic. One look around bathroom products in general and you realize just how much plastic the average household consumes just in this department alone. Due to the restrictions on capacity and the convenience of travel-size items, it’s even more of a challenge. My suggestion is cut back where you can. Instead of taking shampoo & conditioner in those mini plastic bottles, consider cutting a bit off your moisturizing shampoo bar and putting it in a small tin. It lasts so well and certainly for the duration of most holidays. Space allowing you could even take the whole bar. Tick!
Make-up remover wipes are a definite no-no, so my miracle micro-fiber face cloth gets packed next, along with hand sanitizer because I also do not do hand wipes (for obvious environmental reasons). Tick!
Most of us are going to do a bit of shopping on our travels or have an item or two to carry, so definitely keep your reusable shopping bags handy. I never leave home without my foldable bags that store so conveniently, are super lightweight and open up into very sufficient size bags when needed. Tick!
Likewise with my reusable straws – always in my handbag x2 for my plus one and I. Tick, tick!
I was very happy with myself and all my successes in plastic-free packing, especially realizing that it really isn’t that difficult afterall and not dissimilar to what I’d been practicing all along... Until I got to the airport and realized that I was having my luggage wrapped for security reasons. I reluctantly paid over the money once they had completed the process and felt like a complete and utter failure. A fake eco-warrior who may as well have "fraud" tattooed on my forehead. I wanted to ensure my belongings weren’t tampered with, as I’ve sadly experienced luggage break-ins while travelling before, but I also did not want to use plastic. Let alone the amount used to wrap suitcases. There must be a better way or a better product for this, than the glorified cling wrap? Do any of you know of alternatives or have any suggestions?
Of course this is a multi-layered issue, as we should be able to travel in a society where one does not need to even consider the possibility of your luggage being broken into. However until that is a reality, how can we protect our luggage, without increasing our plastic consumption? Fail. Epic fail :(
I dragged my defeated-self, through to boarding the plane. By the time I was seated with my safety belt secured, I’d adjusted my attitude and was adamant that this was not going to be the end of my plastic-free travel experience. I went on to observe ways that I could implement more plastic-free choices when travelling in future.
The first was to note that I could bring a collapsible Wheat Straw cup with me in future to save me from using any of the nasty and cheap plastic drink cups used by airlines. In fact, I could use this throughout my travels. Actually, while I’m on the collapsible trend, I could also bring a collapsible Coffee Mug for hot drinks. Both of these options store so conveniently that they are perfect for travelling and most definitely lower your carbon footprint.
When I saw how many of these plastic cups are used by fellow passengers, I most definitely feel this is good option going forward and one that can catch on with other travelers.
I can also take my foldable cutlery. This would mean that I don’t need to open a plastic bag containing the airline’s cutlery. So it saves one more bag. Sure it’s not a massive difference by any means, but it’s a little something and importantly, I can use them when I've arrived at my destination and throughout my travels, so that I’m refusing single-use utensils wherever I am.
After I arrive, I make sure to complete the airline’s customer survey and in the “suggestions” area, I requested that they find alternatives to the environment damaging plastic and polystyrene aboard their flights. I shared these suggestions to their social media pages as well. Tick!
As for the plastic wrap around my luggage, I ensured it was placed in the big plastic recycling bin at my parent’s housing complex and will be researching alternatives going forward.
My challenge to myself (and to all of you) is that regardless of where we go, always leave it better than when we found it. Safe travels Eco-Warriors! :)