Originally written for The Urban Escapist
Let’s be honest, how many times has this happened to you before:
You’re about a few weeks away from a well-deserved holiday and you can’t help but make a list of things you still need to buy like carry-on friendly bottles, makeup wipes, sunscreen, shampoo & conditioner, and a lot of other extra stuff you don’t actually use but think you’ll use so you bring them along anyway.
You know, the “just in case” items.
In the middle of planning, it can be hard to stop and ask yourself, “do I really need this?”.
Well, the more I’ve gotten to travel, the more I’ve gotten better at this whole packing situation, especially when it comes to picking out eco-friendly products when packing my travel-sized toiletries.
So trip after trip, I make it a point at the end of each adventure to survey the “left-overs” because if you’re anything like me, you hate waste and lugging around items you absolutely don’t need. Then I started questioning if there’s any way I would be able to swap out some products with some more eco-friendly toiletries.
And if we’re being real here–travel itself is already a big “excess”–a luxury that comes with a big environmental price tag. If you think cars are bad, planes are way worse.
According to GreenChoices.org, air travel is one of the most greenhouse-gas-rich forms of transport in existence. Greenhouse gases produced in the upper atmosphere (the layer which planes travel) can hang around longer (possibly hundreds of years longer) and cause more damage than greenhouse gases released at ground level.
As much as we love travelling abroad, this is the harsh unglamorous reality of it, especially when the destinations we go to are only reachable by plane.
But hopefully, it encourages us all to be more mindful about our other choices that can help offset emissions.
So reducing down the things I bring along has sort of became a weird obsession of mine, and whenever I get a chance, I swap my regular travel-sized toiletries with eco-friendly toiletries that are much smarter…
And when I say “smarter” I mean it has to check most of these boxes:
- It’s Eco-friendly
- It must be compact & weigh less than the other alternatives
- It must be easily accessible for the average person
- It must cost less than the travel-sized toiletries I’ve been using before.
With that established, it’s also worth mentioning that nothing is truly zero waste and quite frankly, everything we buy or do somehow creates some sort of waste.
But what we can do is be mindful and buy better products to reduce our carbon trail. Hopefully, the product will also serve a better purpose, and help us save a little extra money while helping us build a better and more sustainable travel kit.
Solid Shampoo Bars
There’s something about packing liquids that I find absolutely daunting. I’m always afraid that it’ll spill all over my things or I’ll accidentally hit the allowance for my carry-on and will have to frantically sort it out at airport customs with a security officer breathing down my back.
The thought of having to somehow minimize the huge bathroom products we own at home or having to go out to buy travel-sized items also seems extremely superfluous (it’s sort of like that feeling you get when you buy garbage bags…am I the only one?). And sometimes, travel-sized toiletries are not always as “travel-sized” as we need them to be.
Shampoos and conditioners are already one of the biggest culprits of plastic waste and travel-size toiletries just seem wrong. So, if you feel the same way as I do about this, you’re probably wondering if there is an alternative. Well, there is!
Solid shampoos bars.
Shampoo bars are much better travel-sized toiletries than mini bottles. And yes, a good lather can be very much achieved with this type of delivery.
One of my favourite shampoo bars is from Lush, they weigh about 55 grams, fit perfectly in the palm of your hands, and can be stored in an eco-friendly stash bag, wrapped in a beeswax food wrapper or a shampoo bar tin.
Package Dissolvable Soap
Along the same vein as shampoo bars, body soap bars are of course another eco-friendlier choice to bring along on your travels.
But here’s something new and exciting to consider in place of that boring body bar. Clean With Plus claims to be a completely zero-waste cleanser.
They reinvented the idea of the bar soap making it even more eco-friendly with its water dissolvable packaging.
It’s also a really cute form of body soap, I’m sure the novelty makes the millennial/generation Z crowd want to hop in the shower just to see the packaging dissolve. I mean, it did for me. Heh.
Clean With Plus is an individually packed square sheet of water-activated body wash that foams up, lathers, and gets the job done without you having to worry about a thing. It’s less weight and less waste which makes it worth considering to bring along on your next trip.
Laundry Detergent Strips
By now, you may get the idea that solid/bar formed cleaners are a better route to take when packing and it may come as no surprise with the next recommendation.
Gone are the days of that annoying powdered detergent stuff or the individually pre-packaged packets. Have you heard of laundry sheets? It’s a thing and worth looking into.
Tru Earth makes an eco-friendly laundry detergent that’s as sensitive on your skin, as it is to the environment. Each laundry strip packs ultra-concentrated, hypoallergenic, eco-friendly cleaning power into a tiny, pre-measured strip of liquidless laundry detergent that you toss in the wash.
The packaging is a plastic-free compostable cardboard sleeve making it super lightweight and compact for your carry-on or your laundry shelf at home.
I’ve used their Multi-Surface Cleaner strips as well, and loved it! Since Adrien and I live in a pretty tight space, we appreciate anything that doesn’t take up all of our under-the-sink space where we store all our cleaning products.
If the above reasons have yet to entice you, Tru Earth also offers free shipping worldwide and you can save up to 35% when you subscribe for delivery intervals.
Deodorants have come a long way and you can now find them in all shapes and forms of zero-waste.
If you’re looking for as little packaging as possible, consider Cleo Coco, it’s a naked deodorant bar with a sustainable, recyclable, waxed bottom half for you to hold as you swipe the deodorant under your arms. When you’re done with it, you can drop it in the cotton cloth bag it comes with for safekeeping.
If you prefer something with an actual case, some deodorant brands like Myro are coming up with subscription-based deliveries for their refillable and recyclable pods.
All you have to do is buy one outer case and subscribe for refills every x number of months and they’ll send it right to your door. They currently have 9 scents to choose from such as “Chill Wave” (cucumber, jasmine, and spearmint) and “Spa Day” (salt air, lavender and cypress). They also have “Open Air”, an unscented option for those who don’t care for scented deodorant.
If you are looking to ditch plastic toothbrushes, consider bamboo alternatives like the ones from Battle Green. These toothbrushes have a biodegradable handle so they won’t sit in the landfill for decades like your regular toothbrush and their full-length bamboo cases make it easy for you to pack.
Chewable toothpaste tablets are also a great way to relieve liquid stress.
All you need to do is pop a tablet in your mouth and chew until it becomes a paste and brush with a wet toothbrush. Etee Chewpaste is primarily made up of Canadian glacial clay which has a neutral pH and is high in calcium, magnesium, silica, zinc and helps to neutralize mouth bacteria or help to loosen it from the teeth. Great for the teeth and the environment!
Reusable Cotton Pads
Re-usable cotton rounds have been a major game-changer for me as I use these in my regular day-to-day nighttime routine. The great thing about these is that most reusable cotton pads come with a wash bag so you can easily toss it in with your laundry.
The best part of these cotton rounds is that they can last you a long time if you take care of them properly.
I don’t know about you, but I love having one less thing to buy at the store and cotton rounds were things I’d always forget to buy. It’s much more cost-effective and you leave less waste behind when switching over to reusable cotton pads.
Whether you’re a regular surf enthusiast or you like to enjoy the sunshine from the patios, sunscreen has become a staple for outdoor sun-soaked lounging and has proven to be one of the best defences against skin cancer. And while sunscreen is the best protector of your skin, studies have also shown that most chemical sunscreens are not so great for the coral reefs. Specifically, oxybenzone, octinoxate, butylparaben, and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor are harmful chemicals that can be found in most sunscreens.
Between 6000 and 14,000 tons of sunscreen washes off swimmers, scuba divers, and snorkelers into coral reef environments each year. These Four common sunscreen ingredients were shown to kill or bleach coral at extremely low concentrations (as low as one drop in 6.5 Olympic-sized swimming pools). Fortunately for us, companies have developed coral reef-friendly sunscreens for us to better cohabitate with our neighbouring marine life. Here are some that I like:
- Supergoop’s Glowscreen Sunscreen SPF 40
- All Good SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen Lotion
- Hello Bello Sunscreen Lotion
- Little Hands Body & Face Mineral Sunscreen (tin packaging)
- Raw Elements Sunscreen SPF 30+ Face & Body (tin packaging)
- Apothecary Muse Sun Stick (compostable packaging)
To be honest, I never paid much attention to what I was using to shave, so safety razors are a newer discovery of mine. Now, I can’t help but wonder how I survived so long without using one! It’s truly life-changing, in my opinion.
Safety razors are a little different than your disposable multi-blade ones you get at the store.
First off, they only have one blade instead of 5 making it a lot less traumatizing for the skin. Shaving with a safety razor reduces skin irritation, shave bumps and ingrown hairs that are common with cartridges or electric razors.
Safety razors are also a lot more environmentally friendly. The biggest issue with disposable razors is that most are not recyclable and according to the EPA, 2 billion disposable razors end up in landfills every year. As for safety razors, you can store your old blades for metal recycling, just be sure to keep them in a safe place.
And there you have it, our favourite eco-friendly toiletries we like bringing along with us on trips. Hopefully, you found this article helpful and after reading this, it has inspired you to swap out a few items of your own to more eco-friendly alternatives.