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In the lead up to my trip to Nepal and India, and in an effort to travel as sustainably as possible, I have been thinking about how and what to pack. Other than, of course, packing light and limiting new purchases, I have researched eco-friendly travel items and come up with the following list of essentials:
Reusable water bottle
Plastic bottle pollution is a global problem, but it is an even bigger issue in developing countries. Unfortunately, these countries often have no recycling schemes in place and struggle to manage their waste. Communities have no other option but to dump plastic bottles, eventually ending up in the oceans, or burn them. This is bad because tourists consume a huge amount of bottled water when on holiday. The alternative? Pack a reusable water bottle and ask your hotel to fill it up from a drinking water container.
Water purifying tablets
For those occasions where there is no clean drinking water available, the next best option is to use water purifying tablets. I bought Aquatabs from my local pharmacy and plan to use them while in India and Nepal when I need to.
Bars vs Bottles
Preparing for this trip, I have made the conscious decision not to buy any new toiletries which come in plastic bottles. This means opting for a bar of soap, instead of body wash. I got this one and a tin to keep it in. I still have some shampoo left so I’ll be filling a reusable travel container and taking that with me. In future though, I’ll be heading straight to Lush for a shampoo bar. Instead of buying body scrub, I decided to make my own using leftover coconut oil and coconut sugar.
In Australia, over 30 million toothbrushes are used and disposed of each year, amounting to approximately 1000 tonnes of landfill water. I love my bamboo toothbrush and would recommend that everyone makes the switch. While travelling, if you do lose your toothbrush or leave it behind, it will biodegrade instead of causing unwanted plastic pollution.
Ladies, if you’re still wasting your money on sanitary products every month, it’s time to make a change. I bought a menstrual cup over a year ago and haven’t looked back. Not only is it more convenient, as you can wear it for up to 12 hours, it saves so much money and is much better for the planet. It’s perfect for travelling, as there are often no sanitary disposal facilities in developing countries and it allows you to focus more on enjoying your day instead of worrying about changing your tampon. This company donates a menstrual cup to a girl in East Africa with every purchase.
You never know when you might need a spare bag, so I packed my foldable reusable bag for my trip. If I don’t use it for anything else, I’ll use it as a laundry bag!
You'll notice a trend with all of these items - replacing disposable plastic with eco-friendly alternatives! Basically, it’s best to avoid plastic at all costs when travelling. While I am lucky to live in a country which has the infrastructure in place to recycle, many developing countries face a huge problem with managing plastic waste, and it's often caused by tourists. The best thing to do is not create any plastic waste, leaving as small a footprint as possible behind on your travels.