Ready to get out there?! We are too! This summer is shaping up to be quite the travel season: after so much time inside only seeing our friends and families on FaceTime, it makes sense that many of us are making summer plans away from home! So we’re here with some of our favorite tips to enjoy your trip and skip some of the plastic trash that tends to crop up when we’re away from our usual environment.
Plastic is always popping up while packing for a trip! Zip-top bags of airline-approved containers, sample size products, garment and shoe bags, even your toothbrush and soap get their own plastic containers! How can we avoid these, and manage the ones we really need?
Pack Smart - Make a List!
Pre-plan your packing! List out everything you need so that you know you’re bringing just what you need; get detailed down to the exact parrot shirt. Haphazard packing typically results in over-packing, and who has time or space in the car for that? Gotta leave room for road snacks!
Work With What’s There
Once you have your list, you can start putting things in your suitcase while taking smart steps to skip single-use plastics. Many types of luggage have a way to compartmentalize inside, letting you keep things like shoes away from clean clothes without a plastic bag. Consider alternatives that are durable and reusable, like a clear silicone bag that meets TSA size rules, silicone shoe covers (for your suitcase or walking around), or a cloth laundry bag.
A toiletries bag is a great place for a Z Wrap! Wrap up bar soap, shampoo and conditioner bars, and solid lotion bars to keep things tidy. Toothbrushes don’t need a plastic box- a Z Wrap can keep them separate from the other contents. Check your stash of freebies, samples, and travel items from previous trips and use up what you have on hand first. If you need to buy new travel-size items, look for paper, metal, and glass container options when the product isn’t available in a package-free or other solid form. Instead of a pack of makeup removing wipes, consider instead a reusable makeup removing towel- or stick with a classic soft washcloth and your favorite cleanser! Most will air-dry quickly, and a Z Wrap is also good for short stints containing damp items- so go ahead and grab one more swim before you head out! Just be sure to let everything out to air dry when you get to your next stop to avoid any post-poolside funk.
Back to Nature
Going hiking, backpacking, or camping this summer? Think plastic free! Even typically semi-durable things like plastic cutlery or dishes can quickly become plastic litter on the trail- something gets smashed in your pack and pieces escape in the process as you dutifully pack out what you’ve packed in. So be sure wherever possible that what you’re bringing is durable and won’t end up polluting the natural areas you enjoy.
So what might that look like? Food storage is a great start- Z Wraps, a steel lunch container, or silicone bags are all great options. Maybe it’s also a metal or enameled meal kit that you keep wrapped in an XL Z Wrap (which will double as a placemat or prep surface, too). Maybe it’s a clever trash sorting and storage system that fits into your backpack or cooler. And hopefully it’s all reusable, because we know it will return home with you!
One quick tip for one of camping's most crucial tasks? Skip a plastic lighter which is easily lost, and use a retired Z Wrap to make some fire starters to light with a match instead! You'll get a roaring blaze going in no time, so be sure the marshmallows or weenies and roasting sticks are ready!
On The Road
In the Car
Got a lot of miles on the road ahead of you this summer? That doesn’t mean it’s gotta be bags of chips and candy wrappers from here to Toledo! Remember to bring your reusable straws, and pack a handful of reusable containers full of favorites. A mix of Z Wraps and some containers is ideal: you can refill them with bulk bin re-supply purchases at many grocery stores, and use a Z Wrap for less mess per individual serving (potholes notwithstanding). Some places will also let you bring your own reusable cup for drinks and refills, too! Even if you don’t come across any of these retailers, you can still refill individual bottles from one larger container, which might have greater potential for re-use if you can’t find a plastic-free option.
But why stop at snacks? A car-trash containment system need not be more sophisticated than a small cardboard box, and can absolutely be divided up into dry trash, recycling, and garbage that needs to find a bin ASAP. Keep a few reusable towels, some rags, or Swedish dishcloths in the car in case of spills or to clean hands. A reusable pouch, made from a Z Wrap or pre-made of other materials, can be a plastic free option to keep any road emergency supplies handy like aspirin, antacid, stomach soothers or motion sickness remedies, and even vitamins or medication.
Quick Pit Stops
Some plastic-free or low-waste choices are easy- they’re right on the menu! If you’re grabbing a quick roadside bite, consider what options might come in plastic before you order. If you’re concerned or options are limited, you can always ask if a plastic-free takeaway option is available; some places can accommodate a range of options, some cannot. Some options are up to you: declining a straw (because you have your own or it's a sippable beverage), ordering a frozen treat in a cone instead of a cup, or simply using the phrase, “Thanks, I don’t need a bag!” at checkout all work. Other options might be worth a stop to take in the scenery--for example, opting for the “sit down” style serving instead of the takeout container from a food truck or other casual spot when you won’t be trying to eat while moving.
Your Top Tips?
What are your favorite ways to avoid plastic when you’re having summer fun? Share them in the comments or with us on social media - you might even see your tip featured in our posts!