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.
£4.99 click image to see on Amazon
Avoid using plastic bags
This may seem like an obvious one, but often travellers 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.
£5.26 click image to see on Amazon
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
£110 click image to see on Amazon
The Life Straw:
This is similar to the Life Saver but it doesn’t remove viruses. They are cheaper but filter less quantities
£39.99 click image to see on Amazon
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.
£83.13 click image to see on Amazon
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.
This Post Has 30 Comments
Great tips, especially the straws. I can’t believe how many of those I find around. It drives me nuts! Sharing this so that you can back me up when I tell people 🙂
Hi Nadya – lovely to hear from you ….. a fellow hater of straws !!! great job 🙂
Chris has great fun in MacDonalds or other fast food outlets – he explains that he has been drinking out of a cup since he was 3 !! and refuses the lid and straw !! – that is one of the reasons I am so in love with him – he is principled and as divers we try so hard to avoid plastic – your friends will soon realise that the world is moving towards protecting the planet and that they need to get on board !!!
happy to help – we will be doing more work on the environmental side
Marianne and Chris xx
These are some great tips! Sometimes we forget that convience society can cause such damage and just a few small changes in the way we go about our day to day routines could make such a big change on the environment. Well done for raising awareness 🙂
Thanks – yep small changes – we can all do something 🙂 TTG
I’m getting a life straw. Thanks for spreading the word, I hadn’t heard of them.
Small changes from all of us. It doesn’t take much. Great post.
Hi Shona – glad you liked the post – thank you reading our post, I am glad it gave you some ideas – we are all learning something new – and sharing the post will hopefully get the word out there 🙂 thanks again – Marianne
Great tips! I’m proud to say we do most of these. We took our Sawyer Water Filter on our 6 month trip along with our own reusable water bottle among other things. Thailand was the country that most surprised me with the amount of plastic bags they use. If you buy a drink from a street vendor they will automatically put it in a plastic bag with a plastic straw. I know there are some people taking initiatives overseas to try to change this habit of using plastic bags for everything.
Fantastic to hear – there are great products out there and new products coming out all the time 🙂 safe travels – TREAD
Great advice. Life is so convenient but we all need to understand the consequences. Really informative post which will hopefully make travellers think again! #feetdotravel
Great to hear you enjoyed the post – yep, we can all do our bit – safe travels – TREAD
Great tips and very important to follow in order to protect our environment and reduce how much waste we leave behind. Such an important issue and thank you for highlighting!
Thank you for your comment – yep, we can all do our bit and there is always something we can do – no matter how small – TREAD
Great tips! Your right way to much plastic and it usually never ends up in recycle. It’s killing the marine life as well. Think about all the areas where you can reuse things. Small changes make a big difference.
Hi Lisa – thank you for your comment, frustrating as it is, we all have a part to play so lets keep fighting to save the beautiful marine life around us – happy diving and live the dream – Marianne and Chris xx
Great tips, especially reusable straws! It’s horrendous the amount of plastics you are given when you think about it. We were recently in Cambodia and horrified at the amount of plastic bags and other plastics dumped all along the roads, they said they are slowly educating their own population on the importance of recycling.
Hi Garth – thank you for your comment – great to hear that there are educational programs popping up around the world 🙂 we could all do with a bit more of that ! Happy travels and spread the recycling / reusable word – Marianne and Chris
Great stuff. I do a lot of hiking and am a big fan of the Life Straw. I have been carrying one around for my travels for the past few years and wouldn’t trade it. Always carry a water bottle as well.
Hi Barry – great to hear! thank you for championing the Life straw – Amazing !! spread the word, kind regards Marianne and Chris 🙂
I was recently in Thailand and for every bottle of water, they gave you a plastic bag and a straw which was pointless. The amount of plastic used nowadays is tremendous, I wish people will start to recycle more often as every change matters to the environment. Thank you for sharing your alternative solutions.
Hi Oana – thank you for your comment – great to have some feedback and great to know that the reuse / recycle word is getting out there – we are all part of the big design and if we keep spreading the word and doing our bit …… keep living the dream and doing your bit – kind regards Marianne and Chris 🙂
I grew up on the beach in South Florida, and clearly remember it becoming more polluted and disgusting over the 28 years I lived there. This is a beautiful, meaningful post. Thank you for the tips.
Hi Scarlett – thank you for your comments – lovely to hear you enjoyed the post – true, it is worrying the amount of litter especially plastic that is out there – Chris laughs because I am an eternal optimist and as parents we have encouraged / taught our kids to be more mindful of waste and impact – it is fascinating how the internet gives ideas on recycling, reusing – and hopefully the next generation and parents of the future will do things better !! kind regards Marianne 🙂
Great tips that we as travelers need to do. We must save our environment. Living part time on and Island seeing thousands of plastic bottles wash up is sad. I will also share this on FB for others to follow. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Stephanie – you are so right – it IS sad and horrifying what washes up – it is the tip of the iceberg too, under the water it is dreadful too – but we can all do our bit and by spreading the word and sharing this post, you have done your bit – thank you and keep up the fight and recycle / reuse – kind regards Marianne and Chris 🙂
So many easy, small changes that make such a big difference! If everyone did a little something we could all cut back on the damage we are doing to earth. Great post!
hi Jenn thanks for the comment- yes any reduction in plastic use all helps
You’re so right! I’m now trying to bring my own bags also to supermarket to avoid using plastic bags while buying fruits, vegetables, etc.
Great – good for you – every bit helps
These are fantastic tips! I try to reuse plastic bags and bottles as much as I can and feel guilty when I am in a country where I have no option but buy water! We are currently in Lembongan off the coast of Bali and there are a couple of places that will refill your water bottle for half the cost of buying a new one, this is the only country I have seen that so far and I hope more people will start to do this. Thank you for taking the time to highlight this issue and for providing alternative solutions! #feetdotravel
Thank you for your comment – yes if we all made small changes it will help make a difference. Please help spread the word.
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