With the increasing knowledge of the human impact on the environment and with every move we make, be it by bus, trains, flights, or cruise, or buying anything we buy (yes, even the most organic products) came the philosophy of ‘zero waste’, which aims for reducing waste and maximising recycling that comes with reducing our general consumption. Going zero waste means denouncing every form of single-use products, mostly plastics. But, with a one-way flight to JFK releasing 1.74 tonnes of CO2 per person, is zero waste travel a practical way of living to embrace? By Shubhanjana Das
Before you start freaking out, let us quote the author of A Zero Waste Life in Thirty Days, Anita Vandyke, who says, “Zero waste travel is all about effort, not perfection.” So, here are a few ways, or should we say ‘hacks’, to ease you into this visibly impossible process.
1. A Zero-Waste Travel Kit
First things first, the initial but most important way of stepping into a zero-waste lifestyle is to make a zero-waste kit for the biggest sources of single-use plastics, namely — water bottles, cups, bags and straws, as well as steel or wooden cutlery like spoons, forks, sporks and chopsticks. The alternatives are very easy to find and you can even customise them, gift them to your travel partner, and they are likely to last you a lifetime. A stainless steel keep-cup, steel straw, reusable water bottle and a jute/cloth bags (or a couple) and et voila! You’ll be prepared and armed for the real operation to begin.
2. Planning Your Trip
While searching for your next travel destination, look for the ones that have already initiated change towards reducing their environmental impact. Countries and cities which have banned single-use plastic are a good start. EU has voted to ban all single-use plastic by 2021. Natural Habitat and WWF will operate what will be one of the world’s first zero-waste travel come this July from the 6th-12th of Safari America: Yellowstone Country. The aim? To fit all the waste generated by each person into a jar, which will then be converted into a byproduct of Nat-Hab sponsored trip operations. Where do we sign up?
3. Booking Your Trip
Every flight journey we take leaves behind tonnes of CO2. Unless you’re taking the bike or just walking it out, you’re leaving behind a carbon footprint that wreaks havoc on the environment, but, until there is an alternative for us to travel overseas, we are left with few options. One of them is looking for airlines like Hi-Fly and Qantas, which have denounced all forms of in-flight single-use plastic; thus makes a big change. Additionally, resist from upgrading to business class for it leaves behind a greater negative impact. For the journey, pack your own earphones, eye-mask and blanket, also bring your own food to further help reduce in-flight wastage.
4. For The Rest
For the rest of your travel, no matter where you are, chances are that you will find a zero-waste journey with just a little bit of searching. Resort to local homegrown foods instead of lunching at McDonald’s, eliminate batteries that are not chargeable, and consider concentrating your toiletries to bars that come in tin/aluminium/steel boxes (they are good as the liquids that come in single-use plastic bottles), consider transforming your travel wardrobe to clothes made of natural fibres, hire bicycles to go around instead of a car (it’s great cardio!), and be mindful of the water and resources you are using.
Does that sound like a lot? It really isn’t. Once you have entered the mentality of embracing this philosophy as a lifestyle, you’ll find it getting easier for you to not only recognise but also eliminate if not all, most single-use plastics and also reduce waste in general by limiting your consumption to ‘needs’ instead of ‘wants’.
Related: Here’s How You Can Be A Conscious Traveller In Ladakh