My family recently enjoyed a road trip through regional NSW for a couple of weeks. It was a much-needed break to get away from the general craziness of work and home life. I now have a lot of tricks up my sleeve to reduce my impact on the planet when at home, however travelling adds a whole new level of complexity to living sustainably! Simple things like not having access to compost heaps, an absence of recycling bins, and wrangling takeaway meal packaging, make sustainable choices harder. The good news is, there are some easy ways to travel with the planet in mind. We found some simple sustainability solutions to reduce our impact during our holiday, while still focusing on relaxing (as much as you can with small children) and having fun!
I love coffee and count it as an essential drink in my day. I packed two keep-cups in case it was a two-coffee day, so I had a spare clean cup on standby while on the road. The kids used second-hand reusable plastic cups and spoons to enjoy a few babycinos along the way. This is a simple way to reduce your reliance on disposable cups and takes minimal room in the car to pack.
To avoid buying water in disposable bottles, we filled our Soda Stream bottles with tap water and packed in the boot. We used these bottles to refill our smaller drink bottles throughout the day when away from our accommodation. You could do this with any spare drinking container, such as an empty orange juice bottle.
We selected accommodation with kitchenettes to cook our meals. We find it easier to eat dinner at the accommodation, rather than eating out each night with little ones who are tired from a big day of adventures. For this reason, I packed a collection of containers so we could cook enough for a few nights knowing we had a storage option for leftovers. Using containers alleviated the need to use glad wrap to cover plates/bowls to keep food fresh. The containers also allowed us to store snacks we purchased in bulk such as nuts and sultanas for day trips.
Given we were travelling for a few weeks (with ample mud and rain!!), clothes washing was essential. Unfortunately, this is a job that follows you everywhere! To make this logistically easy, we packed Tirtyl laundry strips in an old takeaway container. The strips are spill-proof, small and lightweight, making them ideal for travel. They come in a cardboard pack which is recyclable or compostable as a bonus. Paper shopping bags came in handy to store our dirty clothes between washes to eliminate the need for plastic bags.
When travelling, we mostly stocked up on supplies at supermarkets to make our own lunches and snacks to keep our meals healthier and keep cost down. We therefore accumulated soft plastic waste from things like bread roll bags, falafel packets, cheese bags and of course the odd chocolate wrapper. I was keen to avoid discarding these soft plastics into landfill, so we simply stored them in a bread bag and dropped-off at Woolworths on the next visit. The collection bag squashes down to easily fit in the boot until you get the chance to discard.
Reusable shopping bags
Another easy win is to pack your own reusable shopping bags. This saves you buying new ones when visiting the shops. We also packed our reusable fruit and vegetable bags to eliminate the need for plastic barrier bags. They doubled in use to carry our fruit when out and about. Again, these are small, collapsible items and take up minimal space in your boot.
This one may not be for everyone, but I also collected plastic bread tags, lids and corks in a bag to take home for recycling at my local collection points. These items are so small that they are no trouble to keep in the car to prevent them entering landfill.
Food waste posed the biggest sustainability challenge for us. It was not possible to collect all food waste in a bag for two weeks for home composting. Although I would have loved this to work, storing compost would have taken up too much space and been quite pungent! Unfortunately, we did need to throw some into landfill. However, we did find places that had composting at their attractions and disposed of fruit and other food scraps from snacks and lunch where possible at these locations. Our last destination had a FOGO service available which was amazing! All our food scraps including meat, greasy food paper and tissues could be composted in the FOGO bins at our accommodation, noting that rules for what can be discarded vary between local governments that provide this service.
Another way to combat food entering landfill is to use the Sharewaste App. The app allows you to find people in your location who are looking for food scraps for their compost, worm farms or chickens. You may be able to find a local who is happy to take your food scraps while travelling, particularly if you are staying at one destination for a longer period.
Travelling presents a unique set of challenges to living sustainably while away from home. However, there are a number of easy steps you can take to reduce your impact while on the road. As always, pick a few actions that will work on your own holiday, and relax a little more knowing you are making your own ‘Local Impact’ on the environment.
If you have any other tips for holidaying more sustainably, let me know in the comments below!
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