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Low waste travel

Whether you’re packing up the car or flying to your next adventure, most of us love the stress and excitement of travel. It can also be a time where we create a lot of waste—a souvenir that gets trashed in your next spring cleaning, 20 bottles of water you bought because you forgot refillable bottles, or a run to the store for a new phone charger. A lot of waste can be prevented with a little bit of effort. Try some simple and practical ways to reduce waste on your next vacation.

Packing: remember the essentials

It all starts with efficient planning. Pack some of these waste-prevention must-haves:

  • Re-fillable water bottle and thermos for water, tea, and coffee
  • Reusable utensils to reject disposable options at to-go restaurants
  • Phone, charger, and headphones
  • Pillow and blanket, if you’re a soft sleeper try grabbing a sleep mask and ear plugs too
  • Reusable bag(s) to prevent plastic bags
  • Handkerchief(s) to grab a food item instead of disposable to-go bag—spills also happen

Snacks: reduce the mess

While in a car or on a plane it's nice to have some snacks. Travel can be an excuse to try something new or special from the bulk section at the grocery store—raspberry pretzels, candied ginger, or a trail mix. Stick to foods that are less messy to prevent sticky hands or a stinky mess.

Don't skip the cheese, dried meats, fruits, and vegetables (unless you're flying internationally)! Check out TSA's policies on food.

Hotels: take advantage of conservation programs

Most hotels have water conservation programs (e.g. reusing towels and sheets). If you can't find the directions, call the front desk. A lot of hotels don't have recycling in the rooms. If you do have something recyclable, keep an eye out for a clearly-marked recycle bin and keep your item until you find one.

Souvenirs: spend wisely

Resist that coffee mug or snow globe, and use this is as an opportunity to talk about value with the family. Gifts can be cherished if the items can withstand the test of time. Consider items like jewelry, clothing or something unique from the region. For example, send a box of wine home from a small winery in California or a piece of artwork that inspires you. If you're visiting someone, express how special it is to indulge in experiences and enjoy meals together instead of gifts.

Give it a try

What do you think you will try next time you travel? Did grabbing reusable items like a thermos, water bottle and bag resonate with you? How about adding fun snacks that prevent highly packaged, impulse purchases at the airport or gas station? Open your calendar and take note of one idea you'll incorporate into your next trip.

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