It seems that no matter where you travel in the world, the beaches always have washed up rubbish and are always littered with plastic. Now, it’s common knowledge that plastic waste is bad for the environment and our oceans, but it is everywhere!.
A plastic bag can take hundreds of years to breakdown, yet despite knowing this, every year, millions of plastic items end up in our oceans. This pollutes and damages the delicate marine life, I’m sure you have seen some of the postings on social media where, for example a whale or turtle has died as a result of consuming plastic bags, after mistaking them as edible jelly fish.
All waste is bad, but in many areas of the world they don’t have efficient waste disposal processes and don’t have any recycling facilities. Please also remember that when you travel to remote picturesque islands, there will be higher costs to dispose of waste via boats, or often waste is burnt, buried or thrown into our oceans as it can be a more economical way of hiding waste.
So what can we do to help reduce waste and in particular plastic waste on our travels, wherever in the world you may be traveling.
Say NO to Straws !
Plastic disposable straws are an environmental nightmare. You can often see these littering local coral reefs when diving or snorkelling. For years, I have been told you should use a straw and not drink directly from a can, as you don’t know how dirty the top of the can is! – I would say that is logical, especially if you’re off the beaten track. So where possible buy glass bottles as the cap protects the lip of the bottle where you drink from, or use a reusable straw. These now come in a wide variety, they are small, light and easily fit into you backpack or bag. Check out some reusable straws.
Avoid using plastic bags
This may seem like an obvious one, but often travelers are automatically given plastic bags as in many countries, shopkeepers will automatically place your bought goods into a bag for you. Say no! (with a smile) You can get some great, cool looking, practical reusable shopping bags that take up hardly any room.
Buy drink cans rather than plastic bottles / bags.
When you buy a drink choose a canned variety rather than plastic bottles or cartons with plastic straws. Many local vendors in the Far East sell drinks in plastic bags with straws in – these are the worst to buy. Marine life wont eat a can, although I have seen crabs live in them!.
Reuse plastic bottles
How you refill your plastic bottle depends where in the world you are. If you’re in a country with drinkable water on tap – need I say more!. If you’re in a country where you have to drink bottle water, many resorts have the large water / juice dispensers. Fill up your bottle from the dispenser. Not only does this save you money it also reduces your plastic usage.
Take your own drink bottle
There are a wide variety of refillable water bottles on the market and it’s best to find one that suits your own individual needs. Some are just water bottles and some can filter the water to different qualities.
The Life Saver Bottle:
- LIFESAVER bottle filters out bacteria, viruses, cysts, parasites and fungi from water
- Tested by Independent Test House to meet adaption of NSF Protocol 231
- Filters 4,000 litres / 1056 US gallons of water
- FAILSAFE – an automatic indicator when the cartridge needs replacing
- BPA and BPS free
The Life Straw:
This is similar to the Life Saver but it doesn’t remove viruses. They are cheaper but filter less quantities
Another way of being able to refill your water bottle is to use a UV Steripen. You can refill any water bottle and then use the Steripen to make the water safe to drink. They work really well (the taste is not great – so if you have any fruit put a slice or two in to help disguise the puddle taste !!). We used one when we climbed Mount Kinabalu. We were able to fill up from the various rain water tanks on the way up while others had to carry the weight of lots of bottles of water.
Be aware when your shopping
When you’re shopping consciously buy products with less plastic packaging. Choose glass jars rather than plastic or products packed in cardboard rather than plastic. Buying fresh fruit or ingredients you can take your own reusable bag.
Pack a reusable razor.
Take a razor that has changeable blades rather than buying disposable razors – it also takes less space in your backpack or case. And, any shaving foam, sun creams, shampoo, shower gel or leftover liquids that you can’t take with you – give it to new found friends along the way, that need it rather than bin anything.
If everyone took a few simple steps to reduce their plastic usage, collectively it would make a difference. We can only control our own actions – so take action and lead by example and TREAD the Globe responsibly.