Sustainability. It’s a hot topic right now and rightly so! We’re seeing more and more images and hearing more and more stories of how we’re damaging this world that we live in. The only world we have to live in and it really sucks!
I’m not perfect in any way but at home in London I have become pretty conscious about my plastic consumption, where I’m buying products from, what’s in the products I buy and what food I’m eating. In the last year or so I’ve been making small changes in my life to help with this to hopefully be a bit more impactful and play my part in being more sustainable. However when I travel it’s so much harder!
I’ve just come back from Greece where I had high hopes of not using too much plastic, especially bottles, straws and bags, along with high hopes of staying Vegan like I am at home and honestly? I failed pretty badly!
(I also planned to work out a few times and keep up my daily meditation that I do at home and did that happen either? No!)
I know that straws are the very tip of the iceberg but since they are such an easy one-use item to stop using, if we all stop using them it make a huge difference! We’ve become so conscious of straws in the UK this year, a lot of places will ask if you want a straw now and some have even taken them away all together!
A few months ago I purchased a couple of metal straws like this from Amazon. I use them for my smoothies at home and at work. I thought I’d take them to Greece to see how I got on with using them and not asking for a straw when I was out.
I hate to say that they didn’t leave my bag! Our first night drinking I completely forget them and the next night I had one in my bag but before I even had time to think the bar tender had put a straw in my drink (and in some cases 2 straws which totally killed me!), and of course after a few drinks it completely slipped my mind too. I’m also pretty sure that I would have lost the straw too even if I had used it by leaving it in a drink.
After debating over whether to get a filtered water bottle or not I decided to go for Water Purification tablets instead as I figured that if I lost the filtered bottle I’d be very annoyed and then I’d have nothing to filter tap water with.
I did actually start off quite well with the tablets. I have a really cool water bottle which is light and flexible and easy to travel with so I filled it up in the sink, popped a tablet in and the water was good to drink! Except that it wasn’t actually that nice to drink! The water in Mykonos tasted very salty and in Santorini it tasted of Chlorine so although I didn’t buy as many water bottles as I would have if I didn’t have them, I still ended up buying a fair few bottles! Epic fail!
Food wise, 2 days in and one dry, sauce free Falafel Gyro later, I ended up having Tzatziki on my Gyro’s for the rest of the week (and I had a fair few), and then after asking for a Greek Salad with no Feta that came with Feta and said Feta looked so good I ate it and then ended up eating cheese every day for the next 4 days! I’ve been months and months without Cheese at home, I kicked the addiction and then I was left remembering how good it can be! Fail!
I know these are small things but it did make me feel like a bit of a failure especially as I had such good intentions and I am pretty good at home!
So with a future of full-time travel ahead of me (you can read more about my plans here), how am I going to realistically be a bit more sustainable when I travel and how can we all realistically be more of a sustainable traveller too?
I don’t have all the answers and I’m still very much working this out, as you can tell, but here are a few things I am going to do and keep in mind:
Re-consider which transport I’m using.
Let’s start with the big one – how much travellers travel! All of those plane journeys are not doing anything good for the environment but if we want to see the world then it’s pretty hard not to fly!
I’m always a fan of looking into train and bus travel, normally because its cheaper than flying but I was really interested and amazed to see just how much less Carbon Dioxide is used by getting a bus or train over flying! Omio looked into popular routes throughout Europe recently and their comparison chart as you can see below is crazy!
I do love travelling by train and bus, it’s nice to actually see the Country I’m travelling through, it can often be a lot cheaper and once you add on the time it takes to get to and from the airport, plus the check-in time, sometimes it can actually be quicker or the same time as flying even though it initially seems longer, especially in Europe. I’ve taken the Eurostar to Paris and Rotterdam recently and it was an absolute dream!
Plus as we can see taking a bus or train is making a huge difference in terms of Carbon Dioxide so that’s why I’m going to make even more of an effort to look into whether I can get a bus or train rather than flying on my future travels!
If you are travelling through Europe, I would recommend checking out Omio to compare and book trains, buses, and flights around Europe!
Use Water Purification Tablets.
I’m definitely going to keep travelling with tablets and use them over getting a filtered bottle. I love the look of filtered bottles like this but as I said, if I lose it I’lll be so annoyed and then I’m left with nothing.
Instead its easy to get a pack of 100 tablets for £2.10 each from Amazon, they don’t take up much room and although I will eventually run out I’m hoping that I can purchase more online when I’m away.
Also, I travelled with a girl a few years ago who had a water filter, she still mentioned how bad some of the water tasted in Asia and to get around this she used some droplets to help the water taste a bit nicer so I’m going to look into this too, or just get used to how water really tastes!
Update: I did end up buying a water filter bottle, I got the LifeStraw Bottle, this is what I think about it.
Swap from One-Use to Re-Usable.
It’s bad enough us using one use items in our home Country but taking these abroad with us, most likely to Countries with little to no recycling is even worse!
One use items go much further than just straws and plastic bottles too. Face wipes, toiletry bottles, tampons and sanitary pads, just to name a few, are all one use items and these items do not break down either.
At the start of the year I purchased these washable make-up removal pads which have actually been so perfect and I vouch to never use face wipes again. It’s such an easy swap!
I purchased a travel friendly menstrual cup recently too which will not only mean that I don’t have to carry lots of tampons on me when I travel and will save so much room but it’ll mean that I’m not throwing multiple away each month!
I already use a bar of soap instead of going through bottles of shower gel and as soon as my shampoo and conditioner run out I’m going to head to Lush and get them in bars too. I’m also going to try to get some bar face wash! This will not only reduce my plastic consumption but also keep my liquids to a minimum in my bag! Perfect!
I also just started wearing contact lenses and using daily lenses really didn’t sit well with me as each lens is individually packaged in a fair bit of plastic. Instead i’ve gone for 2 weekly lenses with the hope of going to monthlies once I get used to the 2 weekly ones. Again, this swap will save so much space in my bag too as travelling with dailies takes up so much space!
As for the straws, I’m going to keep taking a metal straw in my bag and I’m determined to use it more often, or just not drink with a straw altogether!
Some more of my recent swaps:
I got all items in this photo from Amazon and you can too using the below links:
Not be too hard on myself for eating dairy.
I do really really want to keep up being Vegan but it can be so hard when I’m away! I’ve been Vegan since January this year however I don’t think I’ve done a trip this year and eaten totally Vegan. Sometimes this has been because of my lack of will power but also because of a lack of options.
I’m going to keep trying as I actually don’t want to be eating dairy and I do want to be eating plant-based but if I go off track I’m not going to beat myself up on it. I’m going to think about how I can rectify it so it doesn’t happen again, like planning ahead, and move on with good intentions!
That’s all I can think of for now but if you have any other tips or ideas for me, please let me know!
Here’s hoping my next trip is a little bit more successful on the sustainability front!
I also really love this blog post by Zanna which explains how we need to embrace the inconvenience as what is convenient to us is not convenient for the planet and that’s why we are destroying it so much!
Do you struggle too? In what ways? Let me know in the comments below or by tweeting me @wandering_quinn!
This post is in collaboration with Omio formally GoEuro, however all opinions, thoughts and passion for the subject are my own.
My Name's Ellie Quinn.
I'm a complete travel addict and have been since I took my first backpacking trip in 2010.
Since then I've visited 50+ Countries on various trips! I created this blog to share my travel tips to help you travel better!
NOW: SOUTH KOREA
MAY: HOME (UK)