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January 08, 20188 min readTravel

How to Travel the Zero Waste Style


Although I’ve flown around the world many times, even I still find it stressful.

Between the strict limitations of airport security and the small size of carry on items, being zero waste while at the airport can seem like a daunting and tedious task.

However, continuing to live a zero waste lifestyle is still possible.
While pollution caused by flying is not so eco-friendly, there are a few things you can do to help lessen your footprint while traveling.

All of these items are just handy things to have while on your adventures anyhow, so this is really just a situation of killing 2 birds with one stone.

Going on vacation or a work trip soon? Check out these items you should bring and actions you should take to lessen your trash output!

Zero Waste Travel Items:

Mobile Tickets

This was an easy and convenient switch for me as I always have my phone handy.

Instead of having a paper ticket, consider utilizing the mobile version.

Not only with this help save the trees, but most of the time the app will let you know if there have been any changes to your flight so you stay up to date with all their notifications.

If possible, I do suggest buying an extra battery pack. Although this isn’t zero waste, I never like being without a charge when I’m out in case I run into an issue.

Water Bottle

Pack a reusable water bottle with you in your carry on. Then once you’re past security, you can fill it up.

All airports have water fountains, and I’m seeing a lot more install water bottle specific drips for this purpose.

Now that you have something to drink with you while on the plane, decline the on flight free drink.

Most airlines pour your drink into a plastic cup before handing it over to you. If you’re still jonesing for something other than the water you brought, ask the flight attendant just for the can so that it can be recycled.

I personally love my double insulated water bottle because it keeps my water cool for hours and doesn't leak. Plus, I can easily clip it to the outside of my bag using a carabiner for easy access.

If you buy something similar to mine, make sure you unscrew the lid during takeoff. The seal is so good that the change in pressure will make some of the water will spritz out if you only open it while up in the air.

You certainly don't need to buy a new water bottle though if you already have one or if you just have an old glass pasta sauce or peanut butter jar laying around...

RELATED: How to Reuse Glass Jars


Coffee and tea drinkers, I suggest prepping for your travels by bringing a thermos along. I also love Klean Kanteen's double insulated thermos because the cap is super secure and it keeps my drink hot for hours and hours.

After security, I'll head to a coffee shop and ask them to fill it up instead of giving me a single use cup. Or for longer flights, I'll fill it up with water in addition to my water bottle for extra hydration.

If bringing a water bottle and thermos seems is too much, bring a mason jar instead. Grab your coffee in it first, then before the flight, fill it up with water. It can even act as a to-go compost container to hold your apple pit!


I can’t go a plane ride without something to munch on, despite not expending any energy or calories while in my seat.

You can bring any food items past security as long as it isn’t a liquid/gel!

Prep some snacks for your plane ride and bring them with you.

I personally like hummus and carrots, pretzels (bought in bulk), and apples.

Same logic as with your water bottle, refuse (politely) the airlines snack baggies.

If you like to eat while waiting for your flight like me, this will also save you money from spending a good chunk of change on greasy airport food.


To eat your snack/meal, you might need some utensils.

I suggest packing a metal fork and spoon (no knife just in case security gets weird) from your house and bundling it into a napkin as a cheap and easy utensil package.

For a napkin, bring a cloth from home. I use some that I’ve made from old bed sheets and t-shirts. Once again, 2 birds, one stone.

If you want to invest in some lightweight travel bamboo set like I did, check it out here.


Bring along your iPad or whatnot to watch a movie!

If you like reading, rent a few from your library and bring those along. I was surprised by the amount of great new reads my local library has.

TSA Friendly Hygiene Products

Packing a carryon? You’ll need some TSA friendly containers for your hygiene products (and even if you’re checking a bag, who wants to lug around full-sized bottles). For shampoo, I recommend a shampoo bar like this one that came in compostable packing.

For conditioner, I pour some from my refillable Plaine Products bottles into a small container (like an upcycled face oil bottle.)

Instead of using the body soaps wrapped in plastic supplied by your hotel, bring your own. To store them, I place them in old mint containers.

RELATED: My Zero Waste To-Go Kit

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Zero Waste Travel Actions:

Make sure your house is in order

Eat all your food

Eat up all of all your food before your leave or cook it up and freeze it for later. Can’t do those? Give them to your roommate/friends (means they get to save some money on their grocery bill so it’s a win-win)!

Last resort, compost it.

Unplug electronics

Did you know that many of your electronics will continue to draw power even when they are turned off and kept plugged in? Make sure you physically unplug all non-essential items before heading out the door.

If you're traveling during the summer, turn off your AC too so you’re not wasting electricity and money cooling a house with no one in it! Set your thermostat to 50 degrees to conserve energy, and to save you money on your heating bill. (Thanks to the Trash is for Tossers blog for this awesome tip!)

Decline In-Flight stuff

Now that you have brought your water bottle, thermos, and snacks, there’s no need to take the handouts by flight attendants.

“Airline passengers generated 5.2m tonnes of waste in 2016, most of which went to landfill or incineration, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates. That’s the weight of about 2.6m cars. And it’s a figure set to double over the next 15 years.Toilet waste is included in that statistic. But so are miniature wine bottles, half-eaten lunch trays, unused toothbrushes and other hallmarks of air travel.”

-The Guardian

Use your feet

This one might be harder for you depending on the size of your bag and extenuating circumstances.

However, if you can, try to walk or use the stairs instead of using the magic carpet and escalator to help save some energy.

As a bonus, you’ll get some energy out before sitting for a while.

Get more free downloadable info here!

Wrapping it up!

That’s all I got for this Monday’s post! I hope this helped you in any way whether you’re about to fly, take a train, go for a road trip, or even while you’re traveling while out and about. The key to being zero waste is preparation and creativity.

Pin this to save for later!

Going on vacation or a work trip soon? Here's how you can travel the zero waste style! Check out these items you should bring to avoid creating unnecessary trash and the actions you can take to lessen your carbon footprint?

You may also like:

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Did you know that most conventional household cleaners contain toxic chemicals for you and the environment?! If that freaks you out, check out my two easy DIY zero waste cleaning swaps you can implement to ensure you aren't exposed to harmful toxins. Bonus, you'll also save money!

Transiting to a zero waste lifestyle while living with roommates? Check out the 5 things that I suggest you do to help you be successful!

Hi, I'm Taylor

Amateur adult. Zero waste zealot. Personal finance fiend. Spicy food supporter. I’m an mid 20’s gal living in Denver, Colorado. My love of the outdoors has cultivated my zero waste lifestyle, which inadvertently fueled my passion for personal finance. Cheers to everyone interested in lessening their footprint while growing their wallet!


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