I travel a good amount for my music – going to and from shows and sometimes recording sessions. Along with music, one of my biggest passions is eco-conscious living. In my daily life, I do things like use a clothesline to dry my clothes, brush my teeth with homemade toothpaste, live as plastic-free as possible (not buying plastic or things that are packaged in plastic and skipping food that’s packaged in plastic, like berries, when I’m grocery shopping), buy second-hand, and bring an assortment of things (bamboo cutlery, metal water bottle, metal food container, and cloth napkin) with me pretty much everywhere I go in an effort to not generate plastic waste.
It’s always harder to be zero-waste or low-waste when traveling. I’m not perfect. Sometimes I buy something packaged in plastic or throw away something instead of recycling it. But I do my best. Here are the things I do when I’m away from home to make sure that I am being as earth-friendly as possible:
Bring a water bottle. I have a metal water bottle that I really like. Any reusable water bottle will do. The important thing is to have something to fill up so that you don’t have to buy plastic water bottles ever. I hate plastic water bottles. And I love this metal water bottle. It’s like my little friend. I bring it everywhere I go. And I haven’t used a plastic water bottle (or been dehydrated) in years.
Bring Cutlery: In my bag I always have a little pouch that has bamboo cutlery and a straw in it. I personally am not above just using my hands if I have to but sometimes a fork is nice to have. I like to try to be prepared but, if I forget something, and the options are to either use plastic or use nothing, I will usually just go without. I can’t justify using something that I’m just going to throw away five minutes later. Bamboo cutlery is nice because it’s really light-weight and it’s easy to clean. I’m not the kind of person who needs everything to be super clean. Function, however, is key.
Bring a food container: Along with my water bottle, my little metal food tin is my other bff. I got this little guy at my local co-op and it brings me joy to use. I bring this tin with me every time I go to a restaurant. That way, I can take home leftovers in a sustainable way. And they look cuter. Many times when I’ve been on the road, I’ve taken it with me to a deli, food counter, food truck, salad bar, whatever, and put food into it myself or asked to have food put directly into it. Every place I’ve gone has said yes to this request. It’s very gratifying to be able to avoid packaging this way. It just feels cleaner to me.
Bring a napkin: Napkins are honestly kind of unnecessary in my opinion. I just use my hands or sleeve or whatever. But, nonetheless, I carry a cloth around with me so that, just in case I really need one, I have my own. Paper waste is less prohibitive to me than plastic but I still seek to avoid it.
Recycle: On the rare occasion when I use something plastic, I usually try to keep it around so that I can find a place to recycle it. One time in particular, we had a plastic drink cup on a plane (I don’t know if it was mine or Shawn’s) and the stewardess wanted to take it from me. I declined and kept it so that I could recycle it at the airport. She thought I was weird. But I felt good about it.
Do Without: This is really the biggest one. It’s the biggest mental adjustment to make in order to be more eco-friendly in your living. Do without. It’s a difficult concept because it’s not fun to go without something you want. It’s more fun to have what you want when you want it. But that convenience mindset is rarely eco-friendly. More often that not, it leads to single-use plastic. If you want a coffee and forgot to bring your mason jar with you to Starbucks (I usually carry around a mason jar in my car for this very reason), then skip the coffee. If you want strawberries but they only come in clamshell plastic, don’t get strawberries. If you see a really nice shirt somewhere but it’s made out of polyester (plastic) then walk away without buying it. It’s hard to do at first but it becomes oddly empowering to be able to not need something that you really just want. It’s happened that I have forgotten a sustainable container and taken something from a restaurant home in a paper napkin. It’s happened that I wanted a quesadilla from a deli and didn’t want them to give me a plastic box for it so I took it on a piece of tin foil. Did my pants get soaked with grease on the drive to the show? Yes. Did I have significantly less trash afterwards? Yes. I didn’t smell my best but it was a trade-off that I would make again. Ok, maybe if I did it again I would have asked for a paper plate instead. But you get the point. It’s ok to say no. To wait until you get home. To just not get something. It’s good for your character maybe. And it’s definitely good for the earth.
Thank you for reading my little tips! What do you do to travel eco-consciously?