First up, if you’re reading this sustainable travel packing guide, then it means you’ve booked a getaway – hooray! Although, as a conscious traveller you’ll know there’s a fine line between satisfying your wanderlust and having a negative impact on the planet.
While slow, mindful ecotourism may be the better choice, there are still easy ways to reduce your environmental impact – like starting with eco-friendly luggage and what you put in it.
No matter where you’re going or for how long, here’s some of our favourite eco-conscious, low-impact and sustainable travel gear to add to your packing list.
As convenient as they are, those little single-use plastic minis – and the micro-plastic and chemical waste they produce – are a scourge for Mother Nature. Estimates sit at millions of tonnes of them going to landfill around the world each year and a few years ago, even major hotel chains committed to removing them completely. Luckily for the eco-conscious traveller, there’s plenty of sustainable brands bringing the goods with eco toiletries to pop in your bag for any destination.
Toiletry bag – Saying sayonara to single-use plastics is the mission for Seed & Sprout and, alongside their range of solid personal care products, the organic cotton canvas Toiletry Travel Bag in earth-toned organic cotton canvas is ideal for long and slow stays or short getaways. Or if you’re looking for a ready-to-go pack, the Eco Friendly Toiletry Gift Set comes with basics like face wash, moisturiser, sponge and cloths all bundled in the bag.
Solid deodorant, face wash and haircare – Solid toiletries are both a win for the environment (less packaging, less water) and a win on the liquid-free packing front. Case in point: a quick google of ‘eco-friendly travel toiletries’ returns a plethora of results for bathroom goods in bar form.
Effective and ever popular, Black Chicken’s Axilla Natural Deodorant paste comes in an excellent travel-size and is made with natural ingredients. For a stick version, try the Deodororant Stick from Ethique’s ever expanding range of biodegradable shampoo and conditioner, face wash, lip balms, solid moisturisers and even lipsticks. Climate positive, cruelty free and vegan, everything is wrapped in home-compostable packaging, too. The Adventurer Gift Pack for Travelers is a particularly perfect option for your wanderings.
Who Gives A Crap’s sister brand Good Time sells a handy Essentials Bundle: luscious shampoo, and conditioner plus face and body bars that are vegan, cruelty-free, 100% plastic free and sent with carbon-neutral shipping. Fifty percent of profits are also given to clean water initiatives for extra goodness.
REUSABLE SHOPPING BAGS
Ban the bag from your travel life by tucking an organic cotton tote or recycled nylon bag into your luggage. Avoid being stuck with single-use plastic no matter if you’re cruising the aisles of a village providore or the local fruit and veg markets at your slow getaway destination.
Like an origami bag, the Standard Baggu folds in on itself and is made of 100% recycled ripstop nylon – in a selection of quirky and fun prints. Waterproof and hardy, the tiny package also packs a punch, holding up to three grocery bags worth of stuff.
Treading the line between sustainability and stylish, Tote Modern’s ethical and recycled carry-alls are made from recycled post-consumer PET bottles and pre-consumer cotton off cuts. Pick one of the classic logo totes or choose from the fashion-forward designs to flat pack in your luggage.
Aforementioned Seed & Sprout is a master of reusable shopping bags stocking everything from totes to market shoppers and mesh bags that are easy to stow away in any size bag. Or, The Keeper organic cotton string bag (available at Biome) scrunches up to next to nothing, waiting to be filled with market goodies.
Renewable, free and easy to access, the sun is pretty reliable as an energy source. And although most Slow Stays have enough electricity for mindful consumption, it’s always worth having a solar charger on hand to juice up those devices. Unless you’re going truly off-grid, in which case: enjoy the tech-free peace.
Like a portable powerstation, Cygnett’s 8,000mAh power bank with detachable solar panels is both compact and a problem solver. It removes the biggest drawback of most powerbanks: at some point they all need to be plugged in. With capacity to charge three phones to 100%, it also has dual charging ports.
For something a little more rugged, the 20,000 mAh Outback outdoor solar power bank from the same brand can charge five phones and is both solar rechargeable and USB-C compatible.
Luggage certainly isn’t single use but if you’re keen to make your sustainable travel gear the very best, then finding something that’s been made with less impact should be a priority.
Samsonite’s Eco range ticks both the sustainable and sleek check boxes. The brand’s classic aesthetic is paired with recycled post-consumer plastic (yoghurt cups and PET bottles) to create luggage you’ll love for a really long time.
For weekenders and road trips Matt + Nat’s vegan weekender bags are chic and cruelty-free options to throw in and go with. While New Zealand’s Duffle&Co travel range is made from vegetable tanned biodegradable New Zealand NAKED COW leather, recycled by-product leather, pineapple leather and GOT-certified organic cotton canvas. Each bag is hand-crafted ethically by artisans from Indonesia and India, and every purchase sees the brand plant five mangrove trees through Eden Reforestation Projects
REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE & COFFEE CUP
The temptation to relax your sustainability values in the name of travel simplicity is hard to avoid. But disposable coffee cups and water bottles are some of the worst culprits for clogging up landfill and waterways. Make the choice at the packing stage and pop the reusable water bottle and coffee cup in your bag for the road!
Eco-champs Frank Green have the market cornered for fun hydration from hot to cold. Customisable – mix and match a rainbow of colours and monogram your name – sleek and hardy, the brand’s coffee flasks, tea thermoses and insulated ceramic water bottles are excellent travel (and life) companions.
With options for all kinds of drinks (hot, cold, alcoholic and non-alc) plus lunch boxes and coolers, Hydro Flask’s insulated water bottles are made for every type of holiday – from hikes to days at the beach. Find a bottle for adventurers of all sizes and H2-go!
Another single-use villain, cutlery’s a must whether you plan to picnic or you’re just grabbing takeaway on a road trip.
Pick up a wheat straw set from IS Gift, made from the by-product of wheat harvesting, or snag a classic bamboo roll up kit from Green and Kind, which includes a straw (plus cleaner) and chopsticks as well as the usual implements.
Chemical sunscreen may be excellent at blocking UV rays thanks to active ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate but it also wreaks havoc on our creeks and waterways, including the magnificent Great Barrier Reef. Choosing an eco-friendly, physical sunscreen is another way you can tread lightly, while protecting your skin.
WA brand Sunbutter does away with both plastic and reef un-friendly chemical ingredients. Pack a travel-friendly tin of this SPF50+ physical sunscreen that melts like butter as you apply it and slop it on from bush to beach.
Offering the full gamut of in-sun and after-sun skincare, We Are Feel Good Inc’s sunscreen formulation is non-greasy and free of parabens, PABAs as well as oxybenzone and octinoxate. Even if you aren’t on holidays, the coconut SPF50+ will whisk you away to a tropical isle before you can say slip-slop-slap.