7 Essentials for Travelling with Less Plastic

Annemieke from Plastic-Free Tuesday is back as a guest blogger today! As most of us in Dahab travel at some point during the year, we appreciate her tips for travelling with less plastic. Read on.


Summer means travelling! While visiting and exploring new places is fun, it often comes with a lot of plastic. Plane trips are especially notorious for producing plastic waste. But you don’t have to give up travelling to live with less plastic. Here are 7 essential tools to help you keep your plastic footprint small while travelling.

#BringYourOwnBag

I always stuff at least one reusable shopping bag in my daypack. I love to buy fresh fruit and sample local delicacies that I find in bakeries, groceries, and markets. Bringing my own bag is a small effort, yet saves many plastic bags. It also signals to local people that I care about their surroundings and that I try to not add to their waste piles.

#BYOB helps you REFUSE plastic bags!

#BYOB helps you REFUSE plastic bags!

Stainless steel water bottle

When I first saw the Klean Kanteen Reflect bottle, it was love at first sight. I had other reusable bottles before, but they would always deteriorate in one way or another. The Reflect bottle is not just beautiful, it is also very sturdy, which makes it perfect for travelling. We’ve been together for about three years and it doesn’t leak or anything. If I travel by plane, I make sure to empty it before security and then fill it up again before boarding.

A refillable water bottle is a must!

             A refillable water bottle is a must!

Food container

Because it’s generally hard to find healthy, plastic-free food at train stations and airports, I usually bring my own meals. I have never had any problems taking my food through security checks at airports, but I am always prepared to show the security guys my food and I always make sure it has no noticeable liquids in it. Good, home-made food can really be a lifesaver on long-haul flights where only plastic-packaged, not so tasty food is served.

Cutlery

Previously I always brought a spork when travelling. A spoon is a hybrid of a spoon, fork, and knife. But after three broken spoons I gave up on it. I didn’t like the plastic anyway. Some brands sell titanium spoons. These are a bit expensive, so I now simply carry a regular spoon, knife, and fork from home. We have second-hand cutlery, so no big deal if I would somehow lose it.

Snack or sandwich bag

A while ago I purchased a lovely snack-bag at Etsy. I use it for bringing along hard-boiled eggs, nuts, cherry tomatoes and other to-go veggies, and sandwiches. When buying a sandwich bag, make sure to avoid material such as nylon and Velcro, because that is plastic too! Of course you can also make your own, just type something like “how to make your own reusable sandwich bag” in Google to find instructions.

Easy to carry in a purse or backpack!

          Easy to carry in a purse or backpack!

Produce bags

Because some food items don’t easily fit in my snackbag, I also carry around a couple of produce bags. Of course you can also use a food container, but these bags weight much less and easily fit in a daypack. Also, sometimes shops (pretend to) don’t know how to tare the scale. In such cases, it’s better to have a lightweight bag than a stainless steel container. I use the produce bags for all kinds of things, for example when buying snacks such as peanuts and strawberries.

Lightweight bags are great for buying your snacks in!

        Lightweight bags are great for buying your                                         snacks in!

Reusable shoe bags

One of my new year resolutions for 2015 was getting reusable travel bags for shoes. I often found myself using plastic bags, but in the beginning of this year I bought a reusable bag. Soon I realized that I could also simply put my shoes in a reusable cotton shopping bag. Before I pack my shoes, I make sure that they are more or less dry. I haven’t been in a situation in which my shoes were wet, but I could imagine that I would then simply wear the wet pair and pack the dry pair, assuming that not all of my shoes are wet.

Hope these tips help to keep your plastic footprint small while travelling. I would love to hear your plastic-free solutions during vacation time. Please leave a comment below and join the conversation. Happy Plastic-Free Tuesday!

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Tools to Help You Refuse

One of my favorite tools that helps me to refuse disposable plastic is a simple stainless steel cup. They are light, inexpensive, durable, and best of all – available locally. My husband found the ones pictured below in a shop for household goods in Assalah Square. The cups (which, yes, unfortunately come packaged in plastic) cost LE 5 each. But that little bit of plastic is a lot less waste than all the disposable plastic cups you would use instead.

stainless steel cups

I throw one in my purse or backpack when I go out and then I never have to worry about being served a drink in a plastic cup. They are great for both cold and hot drinks. I bring them on camping trips, desert safaris, and mountain dinners. I bring them to restaurants and cafeterias. I bring them along on picnics and even to parties. No matter where I bring them, someone always comments and asks where the cups can be purchased. We bought ours at Alf Sunf (1,000 Items) several years ago, and although I can’t tell you for certain which shop my husband bought these new ones from, they are definitely available in Dahab. Take a look at your favorite household goods shop and ask. It shouldn’t take too long to find them.

If you’re looking for an easy way to reduce your individual plastic footprint, invest in a reusable stainless steel cup.

If you organize mountain dinners or desert safaris, invest in enough cups for all of your guests and stop serving drinks in plastic cups.

Cheers!

[Read about other useful tools here.]

Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle

Five Tips for Introducing Plastic-Free Tuesday to Others

Once again, we are pleased to have Annemieke from Plastic-Free Tuesday blogging for us today. Today she shares tips on how to talk to friends, family, and strangers about the practice of skipping plastic one day a week. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of plastic we use and aren’t sure how to start eliminating it from your life, starting with one plastic-free day a week is a great idea! So if you’ve already begun this practice, read on to learn how to convince others to join you. If you’re still new to Plastic-Free Tuesday, be sure to read the 7 Tips to Get Started with Plastic-Free Tuesdays.


On Plastic-Free Tuesday, hundreds of people around the globe refuse to buy plastic and do not throw any plastic away. This means, for example, that you #BringYourOwnCup for to-go coffee on the way to work, buy unpackaged veggies at the local farmers market, have your own reusable water bottle, and of course #BringYourOwnBag when you go grocery shopping.

Since the launch of Plastic-Free Tuesday in spring 2014, thousands of people have shown their support. It would be fantastic if even more people would join the movement and cut down on plastic consumption and plastic waste. To help you spread the word, here are five tips to introduce Plastic-Free Tuesday to others. Will you help us convince people to try a day without plastic?

  • Lead by Example

Don’t preach, but lead by example. Simply don’t buy any plastic on Tuesday and don’t throw any plastic away. Instead, bring your own shopping bag when you go shopping, get a reusable cup for coffee at work, and only buy those veggies and fruits that are not wrapped in plastic. So choose, for example, plastic-free pineapple instead of plastic papaya. Be flexible. If you can’t find what you’re looking for plastic-free, try another shop or check out the local market. If you need more tips for plastic-free living, check out this guide by Don’t Mess With Dahab.

Plastic-free pineapple vs plastic papaya… easy

  • Ask for a plastic-free alternative referring to Plastic-Free Tuesday

I love this strategy. I use it frequently on Tuesdays.

A few weeks ago, for example, I was looking to buy some nails to put together my pallet compost bin. In the store, I asked for packaging free nails. The sales person showed me a plastic box that was way too big and had way too many nails. I told him I couldn’t buy it, because it was Plastic-Free Tuesday. Surprised, he apologized: “I didn’t know there is such a day. You’re the first one to mention it.” We talked a bit about plastic and then, he suddenly remembered that the shop does sell screws in bulk. I bought a handful.

Mentioning Plastic-Free Tuesday as if it is the most normal thing in the world is a great conversation starter.

  • Share your plastic-free activities on social media

Be a Force for Good. Share pictures of your reusable cup, favorite tote bag, strawless cocktail, jars, and lunch bags on your social media. Pictures are an easy way to draw attention to the problems of plastic consumption. Focusing on the solutions rather than problems is especially powerful.

Sometimes I question the effect of my plastic-free campaigning, wondering why I spend so much time on an issue no one seems to care about. But frequently, people tell me that what I share online has made them pay more attention to their plastic consumption.

In fact, people have told me that they have started to bring a reusable bag when grocery shopping and that they got themselves a lunchbox and reusable water bottle. Most of these people I meet very infrequently in real live. The influence has really been through social media.

So keep sharing your plastic-free solutions on social media! Make sure to use #PlasticFreeTuesday.

  • Hang Plastic-Free Tuesday posters at work, school, libraries, and shops

To get people to reflect on the vast amounts of plastic consumption and waste in our society, we have created posters that challenge the audience to try live a day without plastic. To reach as many people as possible, the posters are available in ten different languages, including Arabic!

You can download the posters by surfing to our website and clicking on “download posters.” If you put up a poster, please take a picture and share it with us. Leave a comment on the website or share your poster experience on social media, using #PlasticFreeTuesday.

Picture 2

 

  • Buy plastic-free gifts

Often people comment positively on my plastic-free tools. I frequently hear things like “nice bottle!” and “those reusable bags look such much nice then plastic, where did you get them?”. Following a similar comment, I bought a family member a reusable snack bag. The person, in turn, showed it to others who then also started to reconsider their own habit of using plastic-bags for snacks.

Help us spread the word!

Only with your help can the plastic-free movement grow bigger. Please support us by introducing Plastic-Free Tuesday to others. Remember to be kind and avoid preaching. I would love to hear if and how you discuss your plastic-free habits with others. Any tips on how to go about bringing up this topic in conversations with family, friends, and shops are very welcome. Wish you a happy #PlasticFreeTuesday!

Buying Cheese with Less Packaging

Before I talk about plastic-free cheese, let’s take a moment to review why we should REFUSE plastic packaging, especially when it is on our food and drink, because it’s about more than just our environment. It’s about our health. Studies show that the phthalates in plastic packaging leach into food. These chemicals have been linked to health ailments ranging from asthma and allergies to early puberty and fertility issues brought on by hormone disruption. There is still debate about how much of these chemicals our body can absorb before they become dangerous toxins.

Here are a few articles if you’d like to read more:

One easy way to avoid plastic packaging on cheese is to BRING YOUR OWN CONTAINER to the deli at the supermarket. Ask the store clerk to weigh your container first and “zero” the scale before placing the cheese in your container. As usual, our deli of choice is the one at Alf Sunf (1,000 Items) in Asalah Square. They have always been very patient with our requests and willing to use the containers we bring. Every once in awhile a new clerk will start working at the deli and we have to repeat our request, sometimes explaining and assisting with the scale.

We don’t buy cheese unless we have our own container with us, but that wasn’t always the case. Most supermarkets offer cheese on a polystyrene tray wrapped in plastic. In the past, if we forgot our container, we would at least REFUSE the tray and ask only for the plastic, which at least meant a little less waste.

deli cheese

But we’re still working on replacing our reusable plastic containers with other materials so, yes, that cheese pictured above is in a plastic box. This solution may be better for the environment but not necessarily better for our health. Ideally, we’d store all our food in glass or stainless steel containers. Baby steps. Reducing the amount of plastic we use is definitely a process and not something we can accomplish overnight.

What steps are you taking to reduce the amount of plastic waste your household produces?

Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle