Winters in Minnesota can feel endlessly long. Travelling to warmer climates during the winter months is a great respite from the frigid temps and snow. However, while a break in our routines is revitalizing, we often don’t think about the additional waste it can generate. Gift shop souvenirs that aren’t made to last, plastic water bottles, a new phone charger to sub for the one you forgot at home – the list goes on. But, with a little planning, a lot of waste can be prevented. Try some of the following 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 & 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 and prevent a bag – also spills happen
Out of season essentials: check used first
When looking for items that may not be on the racks yet due to seasonality – such as swimsuits and warm weather gear – consider buying used first. While many local reuse retailers may be focused on cold weather items this time of year, try online retailers for a wider variety of non-seasonal items. Thredup, Poshmark and Swap are just a few of the many options for finding used clothing online.
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 conservation programs. 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 items that 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.