Packing with purpose can really help the environment. It can even help your pocket. Being considerate of what you pack, and how you pack, is the first step to becoming a more eco-conscious traveller.
Here are our top tips for environmentally-friendly packing on your next break.
So how do I pack light?
Think “Capsule Wardrobe”
Never heard of it? A capsule wardrobe is highly selective clothing, suitable for mixing and matching for any occasion. You can dress it up and dress it down, so the pieces can work through the daytime and into the evening. Opt for timeless key items that you can use to create a variety of looks. Plain, neutral-colour pieces are the easiest to work with and, of course, organic cotton and linens are not only eco-friendly, but they tend to be higher quality and last longer.
If you’re planning to take part in activities like hiking or long walks in the forest, then comfortable closed shoes are a must. Deck shoes and espadrilles can work great, since they’re very comfortable and you can walk fair distances in them. Bonus – they’re usually lightweight. Extra tip: stuff your socks into your shoes when packing to save on space.
There are so many options out there for eco-friendly toiletries. Here is our list of essential travel items:
Solid shampoo bar
Why? Not only will you find many sensational options of shampoo bars, but they usually take up much less space than a bottle, with the added bonus of being plastic-free and zero waste. With 550 million empty shampoo bottles thrown away every year, just in the United States (enough to fill 1,164 football fields), that’s a good reason to switch to solid.
Side note: if you book at any of the Fire Island Eco Retreats properties across southern Africa, we provide our guests with luscious, all-natural amenities that are harmless to the environment and your skin.
Why? All responsible travellers should be aware of how to minimise their effect on the environment. This includes during participation in ocean activities. Some ingredients in sunscreens, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, can bleach and kill coral, and we want our magnificent corals to thrive. Be very wary of sunscreens marked reef-safe without checking the ingredients list first. Sadly, some brands are green-washing, by only excluding oxybenzone and octinoxate from their sunscreens, but keeping nasty chemicals like octocrylene, avobenzone, homosalate and parabens that can be harmful to marine life. Make sure you opt for sunscreens that only list zinc oxide or titanium dioxide under the “active ingredients”.
Why? We do love bamboo. It grows rapidly, offering a sustainable wood source that biodegrades within a few months when disposed of. Plastic is likely infinite. Scientists still don’t know the extent of how long it would take for plastic to entirely biodegrade, if at all, but it’s certainly at least hundreds of years. So that plastic toothbrush you threw away last month may still be around in your great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great children’s life. Now there’s an alarming thought.
Aluminium & mineral oil-free deodorant
Make your own! Here’s a recipe for a 3-ingredient homemade deodorant:
Mix ½ cup baking soda, ½ cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch and 5 tablespoon coconut oil together and voila! – you have a deodorant that actually works. Scent it with some peppermint, grapefruit or tea tree essential oil… bonus… as well as smelling sublime, they have antibacterial properties.
DEET-free insect repellent
To save on space, you can even find foldable or rollable water bottles that you can just fill up at airports, on the plane or at your accommodations.
Why? Although many countries have implemented a full or partial ban on plastic bags (77 according to a United Nations paper and several media reports), there are still around 160,000 plastic bags produced per second, showing that demand hasn’t slowed for this harmful single-use plastic product. When plastic bags enter our waterways, they pose a danger to our aquatic life.
Turtles are especially vulnerable, as they mistake the bags for one of their favourite prey… jellyfish. A study found that about 1,000 sea turtles die each year because they eat plastic. They have a high mortality rate of 22% from consuming even just one piece of plastic according to a CSIRO study. So every time you refuse a plastic bag and instead, opt to use your own reusable bag, there’s a chance you’re saving a turtle’s life! Most reusable bags take up very little space and some can even fold away to a tiny square that you can stuff in your pocket.
So there you have it – our packing tips for sustainable travel. If you want more tips for travelling more mindfully, check out our How Travelling Can Benefit Turtles and Disadvantaged Communities blog.