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March 13, 2019

by Alyssa

How to Reduce Single Use Plastic When Traveling

How to reduce single use plastic when traveling. Reduce your environmental impact with these 5 simple tips and what to bring with you while on vacation.

How to Reduce Single Use Plastic

I just go back from a trip to Mexico and it got me thinking about plastic. Not that Mexico was full of trash or anything because it definitely wasn't, it was more how much plastic I was personally using without really noticing.

From my morning tea, the utensils at the airport, takeout food, bottles, etc., plastic was everywhere. And since I'm super careful at home, I just felt terrible. So I'd figure why not share some of the facts and talk about how we can stop this (or at least reduce the problem) going forward.

So… how do we reduce single use plastic? If you're like me and you're mindful of your plastic usage at home, then when you travel, you know what I'm talking about. Most of us don't usually have things like metal forks, straws, etc. with us. But we can do better. And I'm vowing to do better.

If you're someone who is concerned about how much single-use plastic you're using, we'll give you some tips for how you can reduce your usage while you're away!

Green Juice in London England

Single Use Plastic Facts

Okay, so what are the facts? How much single use plastic is being generated? Before we talk about how we can help solve the problem, let's quickly look what's actually happening:

  • Humans buy about 1,000,000 plastic bottles per minute in total. Only about 23% of plastic bottles are recycled within the U.S.
  • It is estimated that 4 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide annually. Only 1% of plastic bags are returned for recycling.
  • 32% of the 78 million tons of plastic packaging produced annually is left to flow into our oceans; the equivalent of pouring one garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • Roughly 50% of the annual plastic production is destined for a single-use product.

These facts and more can be found from the Earth Day Network.

Ways to Reduce Plastic Use

Most Common Single Use Plastic Examples

There are a lot of places that single-use plastic come from, but two of the largest generators are beverage companies and restaurants. But what does single-use plastic specifically mean? Single use plastic is just as it sounds: plastic that is used (and intended to be used) only one time.

Here are some examples of single-use plastics:

  • Utensils (forks, knives, spoons)
  • Straws
  • Bags
  • Coffee cup lids
  • Water bottles
  • Take out containers

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How to Reduce Single Use Plastic When Traveling

As you can see from those examples, most of those are pretty common when you're traveling. Maybe it's when you're at the airport and you're getting a meal for the plane – you're probably getting a straw, a bag, and utensils. Or maybe you're walking around a city and get super thirsty – a plastic bottle is quick and easy to grab. It could even be that you just need a coffee in the morning – you're probably going to get one of those plastic lids.

It can sometimes be unavoidable, but there are also lots of things you can do to reduce single use plastic while you're traveling out and about! Here are some ways for you to try:

1. Carry reusable utensils and straws

This is a super simple and easy one to remember no matter where you are. I recommend picking up some bamboo utensils and a stainless steel straw and just keeping them with you in your bag or purse. I have one set that's always in my suitcase and another set that's in my carryon bag. This set on Amazon even comes with a straw!

2. Skip the bag or carry a reusable one with you

Do we really need our takeout containers to be inside a bag? Sure it makes it easier to carry around, but one less plastic bag the better! I recommend whenever you're at a store or restaurant that has plastic bags, just ask them to skip the bagging. If you do really need a bag, carry a reusable one around like this that takes up very little room in your purse.

3. Bring your own coffee mug or skip the lid

I always travel with my reusable coffee and tea mug, mostly because I like to make my own matcha (I bring these packets with me). But it's also great for when you're at the airport and on the plane. If you're a tea drinker, you'll always get free hot water and if you're a coffee drinker, some places give you a discount for bringing your own mug. Here's the one I have for travel!

Don't want to travel with a mug? At the very least skip the lid, especially if you're drinking coffee/tea in your hotel room. According to Earth Day Network, 500 billion disposable cups are consumed every year!

4. Carry a reusable water bottle

Another must for a few reasons. First, traveling is very dehydrating and we've talked about how troubling that can be for your health. Second, plastic bottles are one of the highest waste producers. Luckily, most airports now have water bottle filling stations. And if they don't, restaurants will fill them for you. If you carry a reusable water bottle with you, you could save upwards of 150 bottles every single year. I have an insulated one and LOVE it!

5. Eat in and share with friends

Sure you might feel like you're racing around while you're traveling, but try to avoid take out as much as possible. You could totally bring tupperware with you, but I get it, that's going to take up valuable space in your luggage. It might not be possible to do it all the time, but when possible, sit, enjoy a meal, and better yet share it with someone that you're traveling with!

How to Reduce Plastic Use While Traveling
this resort didn't have a filling station so I used plastic bottles in their gym 🙁

How Can You Reduce Your Plastic Usage?

I'd love to know if any of these tips align with something you do or are interested in doing. Are you personally taking steps in your life to reduce how much plastic you use? If so, I'd love to know what you're doing! Leave us a comment down below ❤️


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About Alyssa

Hey there, I’m Alyssa Rimmer, a certified Holistic Nutritionist, yoga-lover, dog mom, and founder of Simply Quinoa. It’s nice to meet you! I created SQ as a way to provide solutions for women just like me, who were struggling to find helpful information about how to live a healthy and fulfilled life. My hope is that you will find inspiration here on SQ – in my story, in my recipes, in the hundreds of wellness articles, and in our amazing community. Welcome!

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  1. I like your idea for the reusable bamboo utensils, however, you did not (and they don’t) say whether or not you can fly with these in your carry on luggage. Wouldn’t the knife be confiscated?

  2. For family reasons I travel to India at least twice a year. I was finding hard to skip the plastic water bottles every time I was there. Something I did last time I was there, was to carry my own reusable bottles and boil and filter the water my self. I kept my bottles in the refrigerator so I had cool water whenever I need it. With willingness and creativity we can make a difference. Cheers!


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