Minimal waste hotel and air travel

Traveling can be a serious challenge for those of us striving for a greener lifestyle. Just the travel itself is bad for the environment, especially flying and driving. When you drive somewhere, you generally have plenty of room to pack your own food, drinks and toiletries, and you have more choices if you decide to stop at a restaurant. The choices are much more limited with air travel, so I’ll concentrate on things I did on this business trip to minimize waste, especially disposable plastic. Please also see Beth Terry’s post on plastic-free travel for some excellent ideas.


  • I packed my own lunch to eat on the plane: a sandwich and raw veggies in waxed paper bags, an apple wrapped in a cloth napkin and a small piece of dark chocolate in foil.
  • I packed snacks of homemade protein bars (in a wrap-n-mat) and almonds (in a waxed paper bag)
  • I carried a large shaker bottle that I filled with water from the drinking fountain when I got past security. The flight attendant was happy to add ice to it for me. This also allowed me to make a protein shake before my workout Friday morning.
  • During the meeting and in my room I chose to drink tap water or coffee rather than beverages packaged in plastic.
  • I packed instant oatmeal to eat for breakfast Saturday morning rather than buy breakfast in the airport or on the plane
  • My first flight was delayed, and I did need to get lunch at the connecting airport, so I chose a sandwich wrapped in paper and declined a plastic bag to put it in.
  • The only completely disposable plastic I ended up using was the K-cup from the hotel room coffee maker. I really do need at least one cup of coffee in the morning to get going, but next time I will pack some tea in the event of the hotel choosing the Keurig coffee maker.


Hotel toiletries

Oh, so cute & mini! It took a lot of willpower, but I left this display intact.

My liquids

These are the contents of my quart-sized baggie, which I reuse until it falls apart. I do plan to get a truly reusable bag. The small bottle of shampoo is actually dishwashing soap, and the small black container holds my toothpaste.

My solids

These are hair pomade, shampoo, lotion, make-up remover, shaving soap, conditioner and deodorant

  • If you haven’t traveled by air in the past 10 years or so, here are the guidelines for packing liquids in your carry-on bag.
  • A small plastic container that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill is a great choice for toothpaste. This keeps you from buying a travel-sized tube that will be more wasted plastic.
  • Some brands that make solid products are Lush (the only place I’ve found solid make-up remover), One and John Masters
  • I have found solid products from many sellers at Etsy. Some of the stores I like are Garden of Francis, The Man Cave and It’s From Arizona.

Other ideas:

Going Green

A lot of hotels will give you the option of not having the sheets changed every day. I know this is mainly to save them money, but it also saves water and energy.

  • Hang up your towels and reuse them the next day. That’s what you do at home, right?
  • Turn off the lights when you leave, and keep the thermostat on a moderate setting.
  • Take the soap home to use. I put mine in the tin with my shaving soap


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