From shampoo bars to deodorant cubes, brands are going the plastic-free route, which means it’s easier than ever to travel with less waste.
But, why go plastic-free?
It isn’t just travelers that are going through plastic at an alarming rate with their travel-size this and their miniature-sized that. According to this article on NationalGeographic.com, some 18 billion pounds of plastic waste flows into the oceans every year. And about 40% of plastic produced is for packaging purposes. Yes, those products you know and love are responsible for almost HALF of the plastic going out into the world.
And Americans are using an average of one plastic bag per day—while people in Denmark are using an average of four plastic bags per year.
If that doesn’t alarm you, just stop reading this article now. We are clearly on different pages about the future of our planet. But this article isn’t here to shame you for buying that travel-sized shampoo and conditioner set from your favorite brand (we’ve all done it), it’s simply to make you more aware—more aware of how plastic is affecting our world, and what alternatives you have when it comes to travel (and every day) products.
Because whale sharks, my absolutely favorite animal on the planet, are ingesting small bits of plastic when they feed. And I doubt I need to remind you about the graphic video of the sea turtle who had a straw lodged up his nostril. And even those delicious oysters and mussels you enjoy indulging on oh so much could have trace amounts of plastic in them. Which basically means you’re ingesting plastic as well.
So, no matter how small you think your plastic-free living efforts are, they’ll make a difference. And to help you get started, I’ve listed out an array of plastic-free products that I’m loving right now. Because it’s never too late to help save our planet.
When it comes to deodorants, LUSH has two great plastic-free deodorant bar options. Depending on your preference, the Aromaco is a great leap into the natural, waste-free deodorant realm. The bar is made with witch hazel to help eliminate microbes and odor-causing bacteria, while chamomile vinegar tightens pores and soothes the skin. Keep in mind there’s a transition period when you start wearing natural deodorant, so don’t write it off immediately if you think maybe it just isn’t for you.
The second is their T’eo bar, which uses triple citrus essential oils (juniper berry, tea tree and lemongrass) to help you out, even on the sweatiest of adventures.
Taylor’s also sells a nice package-free natural deodorant in their Elevated-Pit’s Stick, where you can choose for it to come with a wooden applicator, if you still need some help easing into the plastic-free lifestyle.
Plastic-Free Body Soap
When it comes to body soap, probably the easiest of the products to ease into because who hasn’t used a bar of soap before? Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Bar Soap is one of my favorites, mostly because it’s vegan, fair-trade, uses organic oils and is actually an all-in-one bar—it’s strong enough to use on your body, but also gentle enough to use on your face and as a shampoo when you’re tight on space (which I am clearly all for).
Other products to love are Chargin Valley’s Shaving Soap, LUSH’s Deep Sleep relaxing shower jelly (a nice end of a long adventure day soap) and Coalface facial cleansing charcoal bar, andFace Halo’s reusable makeup remover pads.
Coghlan Cottage Farm has a particularly nice organic shampoo bar, which will set you back about $9, but is well worth the investment. Even their shipping materials contain post-consumer recycled content and are recyclable or compostable, making this an excellent choice for a plastic-free shampoo.
But, my absolute favorite, and longtime go-to bar is LUSH’s Godiva vegan 2-in-1 shampoo bar. I also secretly use it as body soap—because hey, space is tight sometimes! The reusable case makes it easy to travel with (because a wet bar in your suitcase or backpack is just gross) and it lathers quickly so that you’re not wasting precious hot water (or time) when you’re showering.
Plastic-Free Water Bottles
And don’t forget about water bottles, one of the biggest plastic culprits of all. This 23-ounce vacuum insulated bottle from Miir is a nice size to travel with, and the built-in hook on the cap is a nice touch, especially if you’re one of those packers who’s always tight on space (clearly me). Just hook it on your pack with a carabiner and you’re good to go. And with more and more airports offering water bottle filling stations, you don’t have an excuse anymore to travel without a reusable water bottle. Plus, who doesn’t like saving money—those Smart waters at the airport add up!
Another one of my travel favorite travel water bottles is this Grayl water bottle, which also doubles as a water purifier. With about 300 uses per filter, it’s great when you’re heading out into the unknown. I’ve used mine in Mongolia and Mexico and to say that I’m a huge fan is an understatement. (There’s a hook on this bottle’s lid as well and it’s durable as hell.) With so many plastic-free water bottle options out there, there’s no excuse here!
More Plastic Free Tips to Keep in Mind When You’re Traveling
Being smarter about traveling with less waste doesn’t end there. Tell your waiter/bartender/barista you don’t want to use a plastic straw when ordering a drink—and better yet, carry your own stainless steel straw with you. But also, don’t forget to take your favorite travel mug with you (I like this easy to carry one from OtterBox), never put your purchases in a plastic bag—throw it in your purse or carry it—and always, always recycle when using plastic (or glass) is unavoidable.
photos by Breanna Wilson