As a company devoted to exploring the world, we see firsthand how important it is to protect it. That’s why EF recently announced Hello Zero. In addition to our commitment to responsible travel, our goal is to be carbon negative every year starting in 2021, so we will eventually become historically carbon neutral—removing all of the carbon we have ever emitted, directly or indirectly in association with our programs, since EF’s founding in 1965.
And that’s only the beginning. We’re committing to planting three million trees with Eden Reforestation Projects in Kenya, Madagascar, and Mozambique, advocating for animal welfare around the world, and planning to introduce even more sustainable travel programs and experiences. So, when you go on group tours with us, you can feel good about the impact you’re making on the planet.
As you plan your trips, you can help support our commitment to sustainable travel simply by paying closer attention to the products you pack. Whether it’s reducing your use of single-use plastics or using fewer harsh chemicals in your sunscreen, there are many small ways to make a big impact while traveling.
Here’s a guide to some of the best eco-friendly travel products for your next vacation.
A reusable water bottle
Reusable water bottles are an easy way to keep single-use plastics out of the world’s landfills. Klean Kanteen water bottles are a great addition to any eco-friendly packing list because they’re durable, they come in all shapes and sizes, and they can keep your drink cold for over 24 hours.
You can fill them at the aqueducts in Rome, clip them right to your bags as you explore the Alps, or explore ancient city streets without worrying if they’ll leak. And the best part is that they give back to the planet, too. Klean Kanteen is 100% carbon neutral in their manufacturing and delivery process and donates at least 1% of their gross sales to nonprofits working on climate change and other related environmental issues.
Zero-waste shampoo and conditioner bars
With zero-waste shampoo and conditioner bars, you won’t have to worry about how many ounces you can bring in your carry-on or if anything might leak in your suitcase. These green travel products are small and easy to pack, and they’re just as effective as any liquid shampoo or conditioner.
Eco Roots offers a variety of scents that provide all the suds without any of the stress. They’re 100% plastic-free with no silicone, phthalates, parabens, or palm oil—leaving your hair silky smooth and the environment a little bit better, too.
A reliable reusable straw (or two)
Reusable straws are eco-friendly travel essentials. As you visit new places, you’ll definitely want to order food from restaurants and street vendors—and sometimes, that means drinks that require straws. Plastic straws can often end up in our soil and waterways due to littering and winds. Once there, they break down into tiny particles. These particles release chemicals into our soil, air, and water and harm the animals that ingest them. So, instead of using a single-use plastic straw, carry a reusable one with you.
FinalStraw is reusable and collapsible. It’s small enough to fit on your keychain—cleaning brush and all—and comes in all kinds of colors for a stylish addition to any drink. They even donate 1% of their annual profits to Habits of Waste, a nonprofit dedicated to changing the way people think about everyday waste.
Reusable face rounds
Did you know that most face cleanser wipes aren’t actually biodegradable? Or that most “biodegradable” wipes leave harmful chemicals behind? What about how cotton balls often have harmful pesticide residues on them, or that q-tips have similar effects on marine life to plastic straws?
Reusable face rounds are great, environmentally-friendly travel products because they replace all of these items. Whether you’re using them to wipe your face after a long day of exploring the Amalfi Coast or remove makeup after a night out in Tel Aviv, all you have to do is wash them, dry them, and they’re good to go again. The best part? These rounds from Marley’s Monsters arrive in plastic-free, recyclable, and compostable materials, too.
Plastic bags are an easy way to pack toiletries, snacks, and even souvenirs. But they’re not great for the planet. They’re difficult to recycle and they end up in landfills, where they take about 300 years to degrade. When they do break down, plastic bags contaminate our soil and waterways. Marine life often mistake plastic bags for food, which can clog their intestines and endanger their lives.
Silicone bags are a great, eco-friendly packing solution. After all, they keep all your stuff just as safe and spill-free without causing unnecessary harm. A portion of every purchase from Stasher goes to support high-impact nonprofits, and so far, they’ve prevented over one billion single-use plastic bags from entering our oceans and landfills.
While sunscreen is a must for keeping our skin safe as we spend time outdoors, most sunscreens are actually very harmful to our oceans. Even if you don’t dip your toes in the waves, chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate wash off in the shower and eventually end up in the ocean anyway. They can cause coral bleaching and endanger vibrant marine life.
That’s why reef-friendly mineral sunscreens are a must in any sustainable travel kit. All Good’s sunscreens are reef-safe, climate neutral, cruelty-free, and organic. And, unlike many other mineral sunscreens, they don’t leave your skin with a shiny white residue. All Good also uses photovoltaic panels to power their facilities, grows many of their own herbs, promotes biodiversity, and donates 1% of their annual sales to important global causes. They really do practice what they preach.
A solar power bank
As you travel the world, you’ll most likely have your phone with you for photo opportunities. But finding a place to charge it can be stressful—especially in countries that use different kinds of outlets.
That’s why one of the best eco-friendly travel products is a solar-powered charger. They don’t require any extra energy ,and they’re less likely to end up in a landfill because they’re easy to recharge. You can charge them up in the window on long bus rides, on the beach while you sunbathe, or even as you walk outside. Rise Traveler’s Infinity 2 Portable Charger is built with sustainable materials, water resistant, and folds up to fit in your bag.
Other tips for eco-friendly travel
Of course, environmentally friendly travel products are just one way to travel more responsibly. Here are a few other ways to explore the planet while protecting it:
- Use what you already own. Packing what you already have is the easiest eco-friendly packing tip of all! Buying new products—even if they’re eco-friendly—still creates waste from shipping, packaging, and replacing an item that already exists and is perfectly good.
- Borrow or shop from thrift stores. It’s always better to use an existing product than it is to buy an all-new one—especially if it’s something you don’t plan on using after your trip.
- Refill your travel-sized containers. Instead of buying new ones for each trip, you can reuse travel-size shampoo and soap bottles to help reduce plastic waste.
- Recycle, recycle, recycle. Can’t find any recycling options while out and about on tour? Bring recyclables back to your hotel!
- Unplug your appliances before you leave home. Many of them still use electricity even when they’re turned off. Who knows… you might save a few extra dollars, too.
Have any of your own eco-friendly packing tips? Share them with us on our Facebook page!