At KinoSol one thing we think about all the time is how to reduce waste. With our origin based on food waste reduction, we strive to see how we can further reduce waste, especially when we travel! We put together some tips for low waste travel you can implement on your next trip overseas!
1. Buy from low-waste and sustainable brands
One way you can cut down on travel waste from the get-go is to purchase products that focus on sustainability. A great example is the outdoor gear brand Patagonia, which has worked with the environmental movement since its establishment and continues to emphasize sustainability and grassroots activism. We love that they repair their clothing items, keeping them from ending up in a landfill.
2. Pack only what you need
So many of us overpack, especially when traveling internationally. But packing light provides tons of benefits! You don’t have to worry about losing your luggage (the KinoSol team opts for carry-on only!), less to carry around in-country (especially when you’re traveling in smaller vehicles), and it gives you opportunities to purchase local products for souvenirs!
3. Repair don’t replace
It happens to everyone at some point: you’re walking around in your favorite sandals on vacation and the strap breaks. Rather than going to the store and buying a replacement, see if you can’t fix the problem instead. Often times, especially in Uganda there are tons of local seamstresses and artisans who can help you sew on a new button, repair a tear, or add a new strap to your sandal. Not only will you be saved from throwing out the broken item, but you’ll also support local businesses in the community!
4. Avoid single-use items
From airplane food to grocery bags, travel can be full of single-use plastic and paper products. While a plastic baggie may not seem like much on its own, this kind of waste adds! Fortunately, when you travel to Africa most of the countries have bans of plastic bags (How cool is that?!). Instead of single-use items, pack reusable water bottles, cloth napkins, travel silverware, and reusable bags for carry-on liquids.
5. Powder or solid beauty products
We’re a HUGE fan of the shampoo bar movement. It means you can skip the plastic entirely and bring your own beauty products with you. Plus, since they aren’t liquids, you don’t have to worry about packing them in a clear bag, you can just throw them right in your suitcase! One of our favorites is Love and Beauty bars – they’re sustainable and eco-friendly.
Or if you’re not a fan of packing all the personal care items you may need, there are usually some great local products produced by artisans from soap bars to essential oils that can supplement your normal beauty routine. Not only do you get to experiment with new products, but it’s another great way to support the local community!
6. Go paperless
From boarding passes to receipts, travel is full of paper you often don’t want to keep! Why not go digital?! Almost all airlines let you download your boarding passes to your phone, and many businesses have started letting you choose to have your receipt emailed to you instead of printed.
Or, if you’re like us and you love paperbacked books (because who doesn’t need a good book on a long trip and e-readers are NOT the same!), take the books with you! While it’s not paperless, you can think about donating them to a local school or library when you’ve finished reading them and head home. Local schools love getting access to new books written in English, and you’re helping the next generation of learners!
7. Go local
The best part of travel is the experience, and embracing that in your purchases will also cut down on your waste. Rather than buying familiar brands that have to be imported from overseas, opt for local brands or foods while you’re traveling (it saves packing space and supports the local community!). We work with a lot of local women’s groups and their handicrafts make great souvenirs!
Another way to go local is food. Eat in at local restaurants rather than getting your food to go. This saves you from using styrofoam or other single-use products and gives you an opportunity to slow down and experience the community you’re visiting. Who knows, you might even make some new friends!
8. Fly green
Another option to make your trip more eco-friendly is to opt to fly “Green”. Many airlines offer carbon off-setting programs. This is where you can pay an extra fee with your flight, which will be invested in a project to reduce carbon emissions. These projects often involve different types of forestry or sustainable fuel projects!
You can also make your flights more sustainable by opting to take a more efficient airline. This report from the International Council on Clean Transportation ranks airlines according to their fuel efficiency, which can help you pick a more eco-friendly airline for your next trip.
No one person’s choices can fix the environmental problems international travel causes, but each of us can do our part to reduce our impact as we look to enhance our learning and explore new cultures. By following these easy steps, you’ll be able to cut down on your environmental footprint, save money, and have a more immersive experience during your next trip!