10 tips for a plastic-free holiday this summer
A worrying amount of single-use plastic gets used on holidays. Catherine Mack from Responsible Travel, shares her advice for cutting it down
There was a time when the question, 'Do you take plastic?' had a very different meaning on holiday - when laissez-faire on trips away lured us into endless treat fests.
That same holiday laissez-faire has now maxed-out the plastic issue in other ways - our over-dependence on single-use plastics when we take a break. Here are our 10 top tips on how to ditch the plastic on holiday.
1. Bottled water is one of the biggest single-use plastic criminals, so treat yourself to a quality reusable bottle before you travel, and buy one large plastic bottle to refill from. Don't assume you can't drink the tap water when you get to your destination, either. You'll be amazed how many countries do actually have safe drinking water. And if you can't drink from the tap, consider buying a filtering or purifying water bottle, or a UV water purifying pen. All genius devices.
2. It is very annoying having to buy bottled water after airport security. This handy website wateratairports.com tells you where you can find fountains 'on the other side'. Airlines are not legally obliged to give you water, sadly, but many of them are working towards plastic-free policies. Look out for the Zero Cabin Waste campaign (cabinwaste.eu); it is in its early days, but it's a start.
3. Ditch single-use plastic cosmetic bottles if possible. Seek out solid shampoo bars, sun creams that come in cool metal tins or coconut oil as moisturiser. And soap. Remember soap? And rather than buying 100ml tubes of everything, just top up your reusable bottles at home. As for hotel toiletries, tell the hotel you just don't want them anymore. Unless you make this clear, they will keep giving them.
4. Many parents are becoming plastic savvy, bringing cool bento boxes instead of plastic sandwich bags to the beach, for example. However, baby wipes are pure plastic poison and nappies are the worst, often made with 50% plastic. It really is time to think about washable nappies and using good old-fashioned cloths instead of wipes. Bamboo washable wipes are beautiful things.
5. Microbeads, those little plastic balls found in beauty and cleaning products, may have been banned in the UK and elsewhere, but they still exist in many countries. They have been banned for a reason, so don't give in by buying them on holiday.
6. Bring your own camping cutlery set with you for picnic lunches and so on. That way you don't have to accept plastic cutlery when you are getting food to go.
7. If you are using a tour operator on holiday, try to use a company with an anti-plastics policy. Responsible Travel has done some of the work for you with its 'no single-use plastic' holidays.
8. Few people want to have the tampon conversation, but their plastic wrappings and applicators are really not good news. Even cardboard applicators often have a plastic lining. Some women are changing to silicone menstrual cups, but if you aren't ready for that step, seek out applicator-free tampons with a lot less packaging.
9. Dental hygienists rarely discuss the cleanliness of our oceans. But if you like to buy a new toothbrush for holiday, look for bamboo ones. Biodegradable floss is also available. We all like to use drinking straws too, but they are top of the single-use scourges. Treat yourself to a stainless steel straw to bring on holiday; your drinks taste cooler and look cooler.
10. Ask your tour operator or hotel if there are any beach clean-up activities you can become involved with. Local communities often arrange events, especially in peak season. And always remove plastic litter when you see it.