Are you a scruncher, folder or a roller?
Oi, mind out of the gutter! We’re talking about packing. More specifically, how you can be greener and more ethical with what goes into your backpack when you travel.
Buzzkill guys, but by 2050, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.
As travelers and all around decent human beings, we have a responsibility to protect the rivers, beaches, mountains and oceans that have given us so much unconditional and unqualified love over the years. Which means thinking about what you’re taking with you from your world, into theirs.
The good news is, both big brands and start-ups are responding to travelers’ desires for more eco-friendly and sustainable travel gear. Here are just some of our favorite green products that are currently out there.
STAnd up, Go Green, Do Good.
Refillable toiletry bottles
Those handy travel-sized toiletries that we love so much? Great for short trips and getting around the 3oz hand luggage rule, but a nightmare for the oceans and landfill sites where the miniature plastic bottles end up. Invest in refillable bottles instead. We love GoToob by Humangear. Fresh shades, BPA-free and a lifetime guarantee.
Some of the chemicals and parabens in sun-cream are not only bad for your skin, but also for the oceans and reefs that you swim in. Using a mineral-based sun-cream like JĀSÖN will not only protect your skin, but also the environment. There are no artificial colours or animal by-products, and the packaging is bio-degradable and packaged in recycled and/or recyclable containers. Now that’s hot!
That plastic toothbrush that you replace every six months? That toothbrush never disappears. The plastic can’t decompose, which means all your toothbrushes are out there in the world somewhere.
Go for a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush instead, like Humble Brush. Their ‘Go Humble, Give Smiles’ project also means that for every brush you buy, a child in need will receive a toothbrush, oral care or hygiene education. Plus, bamboo is naturally antimicrobial, so you won’t get any of that nasty bacteria that hang out on your plastic brush.
Refillable water bottles
Barbie was wrong, plastic is not fantastic. Rivers, coastlines and railway verges clogged with rubbish and plastic bottles are a familiar sight for many travellers. Which is exactly where your single-use plastic bottle will end up.
Take a refillable bottle away with you. We are OBSESSED with Dutch-brand Dopper. So many reasons… not least the dreamy shades of neon corals and cool aquas, BPA-plastic free bottles that are recyclable when you’re done, and a wicked ethos where 5% of the company turnover is pumped into their projects. Oh, and a removable cup that looks – to us – much like it’s designed specifically for wine.
Soaps and sanitizers
Just what the doctor ordered for every eco-warrior, there’s not a single occasion when we don’t have Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Organic Hand Sanitizer in our hand and man bags. Kills 99.9% of germs, smells incredible, and doesn’t strip your skin like normal anti-bac.
We’re also all over Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid soap. You can use this stuff for literally everything when you’re away – face, body, hair, food, laundry, dishes. It comes in ten lush scents, is made with organic and fair-trade ingredients, and is packaged in a 100% post-consumer recycled bottle.
We know what you’re thinking, another bamboo product. And what about the effing pandas, you monsters!
Okay, this does raise an important issue about checking that the natural products you’re buying are responsibly sourced. However, bamboo consumes much less water than cotton and doesn’t need high quality arable land to grow, which makes it much more sustainable. It’s also 60% more absorbent than cotton and it’s super soft (like a panda), making it the perfect travel accessory.
We love Karavan’s Bamboo Peshtemal. Bus blanket, top sheet, sarong, towel… you genuinely have to try one to appreciate how fast they dry out, way faster than a travel towel. Plus, they look sheet hot! Here at STA Travel HQ, they’re a staple for every trip.
Reusable tote bags
Did you know that carrier bags are illegal in Rwanda? Yep, totes ahead of the game.
You’re probably the kind of person that wouldn’t use a single-use plastic bag at home, right? So why would it be any different when you’re away? Take a foldaway reusable tote with you, also great for doubling as a beach and laundry bag.
The key to backpacks and being sustainable often comes down to longevity and not upgrading your backpack every few years. Find a size and shape that works for you, and you’ll have your beloved pack a lifetime. (On a personal note, this author’s Osprey side-loader is on its 20th year and just about to visit its 89th country. Old school).
However, there are also brands out there such as the mountain legends VAUDE, who now offer environmentally-friendly backpacks that are ethically produced and made from sustainable materials. Check out their awesome Green Shape eco-range.
It’s perhaps fair to say that once-upon-a-time, if you wanted to buy ethical clothing, you had to be into a certain, look? We’re personally down with the whole boho hemp vibes, but if you’re not, brands like Patagonia, Lulu Lemon, and Tentree are doing sustainable gear that does good and looks good. Surfdome.com have a whole section of their site dedicated to gear that’s sustainable in some way.
We could go on…got your own eco-packing and green tips?
We want to hear them! Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to consume less and do good on your travels. Why not add in one of our conservation trips to your next big adventure? See here. Want to buy a eco-friendly gift for your friend? See our top picks.