This month is ‘plastic free July’ and if there’s one thing our trip to Bali highlighted for us, it was the drastic need to reduce our plastic intake; as individuals, as travellers and as humans. Did you know that globally we buy about 1,000,000 plastic bottles per minute… Per minute! That’s an insane amount and so upsetting when you consider how many eco-friendly alternatives to plastic there are these days.
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What people don’t realise is the impact this is having on small islands hundreds of miles away from them. In all honesty, we couldn’t fully comprehend it either, until we witnessed the extent of this plastic epidemic ourselves while in Indonesia.
Yes, it’s a paradise filled with palm trees and crystal blue oceans, but beyond the gorgeous scenery, there’s a dark side that nobody wants to talk about. Rivers flow from bank to bank with litter, mainly plastic bags and bottles.
The beach shores are home to the waste that washes in with the tide, and its surrounding waters have been seen by divers to be overflowing with plastic pollution.
We saw locals clearing the beaches of the plastic, but where does it go once it’s been thrown back into the bin? With so little plastic actually being recycled it’s an endless loop that we are needlessly adding to considering the thousands of plastic alternatives for travellers.
Don’t get me wrong, we can’t just blame tourists and travellers, although we are a huge impact on these small communities. Locals in every city, town and village all over the developing world could be doing a lot more to cut down on the waste, but as travellers, we need to be more conscious to impact we are having on these tiny Islands we love to visit.
One way is by simply using less plastic in our day to day lives while travelling.
Seeing for ourselves the damage plastic is doing really made me think about what Dec and I could do differently to lower our plastic footprint, so we made this list of plastic alternatives for travellers and I’m pleased to say we have already put some into practice.
Not only is it helping reduce our waste and do our bit for the planet but it’s actually saving us money too. So here are our plastic alternatives for travellers, that we have started to put into place! Feel free to let us know of anything you think we could add to this ever-growing list!
Say no to plastic straws.
Half a million straws are used worldwide EVERY. DAY!… WHY? For most people, drinking from a tube isn’t a necessity, yet it’s something we all do without a second thought. In fact, on average we use 2 straws EACH, every day.
Bamboo straws are becoming increasingly popular, especially throughout Indonesia. I’m not surprised, they’re such a cute idea. Not only are they reusable, chemical-free and eco-friendly but Bamboo can also grow at a rate of 91 cm in a day (!!! yeh. Wow, right!) so it’s certainly a sustainable option.
Adding a Bamboo straw to your packing list could save 730 plastic straws from being thrown into the ocean each year. Yea, you’re probably thinking 730 isn’t a huge amount but if everyone did it think of the impact it would make.
We’ve just ordered these ones because they also come with a coconut fibre cleaner to help keep the inside germ free.
a restaurant in Bali doing it’s bit to stay away from plastic straws – this one’s made from Yuka plant so it’s completely recyclable!
Scrap single-use plastic bags
Hands up if you have a bag full of bags somewhere in your home?
Jeez, we even had a bag full of bags when we moved into our campervan. Not anymore.
Single-use plastic bags are fast becoming a thing of the past here in Australia; South Australia and New South Wales make you pay for them now and Coles supermarkets are scrapping them completely as of June 30th; their aim is to encourage more people to buy fabric bags and bring their own for each shop!
It is estimated that 4 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide annually but only 1% of plastic bags are returned for recycling. So instead of picking up half a dozen new plastic bags to store under the sink every time, you do a food shop, why not buy a bag for life? Or why not pick up a textile bag from the high street or a foldable backpack. That way it can double up as a day bag when you’re out exploring!
Avoid plastic bottles
Plastic bottles are a huge contributor to the plastic epidemic, due to only being 70% recyclable. There are so many other alternatives to using plastic bottles but here are our favourites.
Bring your own water –
When travelling in countries that have safe drinking water, why not take your own non-plastic bottle that you can reuse over and over again? We really like stainless steel ones with a flip-up straw. They keep cool for longer and the flip-up straw means you avoid getting anything nasty inside. When you’re in a country that doesn’t have great water quality you could try boiling it first or take with you water sterilization tablets.
We’re all partial to a sweet drink every now and then. Don’t let this treat impact our planet, why not go for the carton or tin can version? Carton and cans are a lot more likely to get recycled and are 100% recyclable.
Reusable containers and cutlery
A lot of our food these days comes wrapped in plastic with a plastic fork and then handed to us in a plastic bag.
Why not cook extra the night before and take your lunch with you? Or buy extra when you’re out for lunch and take home a doggy bag. Not only will this cut down on your plastic usage but it’ll also save you money in the long run, that to us is a win-win. Add bamboo cutlery to go with your new container and your set to eat plastic free over and over again.
Sea Turtles are amongst the most vulnerable when it comes to plastic in our oceans. Here’s a great post on what you can do to directly help Sea Turtles in the wild!
Swap your creams for coconut oil
It’s no secret, I’m obsessed with coconut oil. It’s probably mentioned at least once in every post. Not only is it super cheap here in Australia but it also means I have been able to swap out almost all other skin care products, that come in plastic, for just one glass jar; Echo friendly, affordable and leaves more room in your suitcase why not give coconut oil a try?
I prefer to use 100% raw organic, cold pressed unrefined coconut oil that can be found on supermarket shelves as this can be used for both beauty treatments and cooking!
- Anti-itch lotion, perfect for insect bites
- After-sun lotion
- Hair mask
- Rash cream
- Scalp Soother
- Balm for chapped lips
- Shaving lotion (before and after!)
- Exfoliating lotion (Add sea salt)
- Deodorant (Mix with coffee or baking soda)
- Bug repellent (add rosemary or mint)
For more uses for Coconut Oil, Wellness Mamma is a great source!
Our Favourite Plastic-Free Products
Bamboo alternatives to plastic.
Plastic usage has become a habit so ingrained into society that it’s going to be a hard one to break. Everywhere you look there’s plastic being used in places where there really is no need for it. Like toothbrushes and hair combs. Bamboo has proved to be a reliable, sustainable replacement for plastic so here are a few things you can replace with Bamboo to reduce how much plastic you use when you travel:
And even clothes.
I think it’s about time we started making conscientious decisions when we travel, even if that means spending a little bit more on the plastic alternative. Single-use plastic is coming to an end but we’ve got a long way to go!
What are you doing to make a difference? We’d love to hear your methods of avoiding single-use plastic so join in the conversation below or over at our facebook page!