I recently started traveling for work taking me all over the country. As my travel increased, so did my plastic usage! I became acutely aware of how much I was throwing away on a daily basis. As I mentioned in a previous post, I like to make these changes in achievable pieces so I thought to myself “what are the 3 things that are generating plastic waste while on the road.”
The 3 items I identified:
- Water bottles
- Coffee cups + plastic lids
- Bonus – bags for carrying products on my travels
Oddly enough, the number one item for me was the plastic water bottle. While I always carried one reusable water bottle, I always felt the need to buy one more bottle. I drink a ton of water to stay hydrated on my travels. So now I carry two water bottles which I fill up at the airport. My favorite water bottle for on the go is the Camelbak Chute. I have never had it leak and it holds over 24oz. I carry this bottle with me everywhere! I fill it at water fountains, filling stations where available, bathroom faucets and even at the soda stations where you get water (sneaky little trick for those airports with awful water options). Now, I am sure some of you are saying that water tastes awful, especially in the airports and I totally agree. Luckily I was a trade show and turned on to the most amazing filter called Santevia that lasts up to 3 months in your reusable water bottle and helps filter and improve the taste of the water.
Next up for me to tackle was to stop using coffee cups and specifically the coffee lids when I walked into the coffee shop. It was a little awkward at first to walk up to the counter and ask them to use my reusable mug. The mug is usually priced at the medium size and I have only had one coffee shop that would not use my reusable mug. I didn’t have my coffee until later when I found a coffee shop that would. I see people doing this in San Francisco on a regular basis but have yet to see anyone do this in an airport. Give it a try. My go to coffee mug which is leak and spill proof is the Contigo Snap Seal Travel Mug.
Traveling on the road and eating is a constant disappointment as you walk through airports and fast food establishments seeing so much waste. I do try to carry some of my own food with me such as nuts and homemade protein bites in reusable sandwich bags but you can only carry so much on a 3 or 4 day business trip. Below I have two recommendations to carry some snacks with you. The Stasher bags we use more in the home vs. on the road. The other option provides a better seal for travel in my opinion. If the Stasher bag has any air inside, you can get a blowout in your bag. I ended up with nuts everywhere in my backpack. The other option offers a solid seal that literally zips the pouch shut and air tight which I prefer for travel.
I try to eat lunch + dinner in a sit down restaurant like Panera or at the hotel so I can use plates and utensils that will get washed and reused vs. grabbing food to go. This has been a nice change to force myself while on the road to take a break and enjoy my meal. Unfortunately when you are on the it is difficult to do that all the time so I try to be very mindful about the packaging of meals at the airport and if I have a choice, I go with the least packaging possible. At least I do avoid the utensils entirely by carrying with me my own bamboo utensils. I have asked people to rinse them for me after the hotel breakfast buffet and they were very happy to do so. They definitely took notice that I had my own and did not use the plastic options offered. I also am working on remembering to ask for no straws in my drinks when I place the order. It is just something that gets included and I have to constantly remind myself to make this a habit. Years ago I would forget my reusable shopping bags but now it is 100% a habit and they are always with me.
Bonus shopping Bag recommendation! There is no reason to ever use a single use plastic bag. In San Francisco, they are banned and we have learned to always carry our reusable bags with us everywhere we go. The Chico Vita bag is a must have! I use mine all the time. This bag come with a little storage pouch and a carabiner and holds up to 25 lbs! They offer lots of fun colors to choose from. More importantly, this bag can be washed. I just read a report that the reusable shopping bags have been found to have bacteria so you definitely want to wash them from time to time. For Chico bags, a quick wash in cold water and line dry and you are good to go.
The exciting part is that I know my actions are getting noticed as I travel. I have already heard from others I am making an impact on how they think and use plastic on the road or at home. I have received Facebook messages and text messages on the impact I have already made on people which warmed my heart and brought a tear or two to my eye. I know the lady behind me commended me for not taking the coffee when they would not use the coffee cup I had. Little by little we can all make an impact. I will live my life by leading by example and hope others will follow. Join the movement to use less plastic and help to bring others along too.
*disclosure: Links in this blog are affiliate links, meaning I make a little bit of money but at no additional cost to you. I will earn a commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. This will help me to continue to explore and offer up recommendations to reduce your plastic usage.