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!

Aboo Ahmad Restaurant – for plastic-free takeaway

I finally snapped a photo of our favorite place for Egyptian street food – Aboo Ahmad’s! For those of you who haven’t eaten here yet, we highly recommend it. The restaurant is located in Asalah Square between 1,000 Items and Ghazala Market.

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Not only do they make the tastiest foul and falafel in town, the staff is also willing to put your takeaway sandwiches in your own container or wrapped in paper.

takeaway in own container

plastic free lunch

Most people get their food in plastic bags – and Aboo Ahmad gets very busy during the lunch hour – so please remember to be patient with the staff when you request paper or for them to use your own container. They are always happy to do so, but they work on “autopilot” so your request involves a bit of an interruption. But we have now visited there enough times that the staff knows when they see us coming that they won’t be using plastic for our food!

Tips on Reducing Plastic at the Supermarket

shopping bag

Lately, I’ve been blogging mostly about how to REDUCE plastic when shopping for food at supermarkets and green grocers. Here’s a quick summary of tips:

And if all else fails,

    • BUY THE LARGEST PACKAGE AVAILABLE. Skip the individual size packages. Instead buy the largest box or bottle possible. This cuts down on the amount of plastic needed for each product.

I will continue to share tips and practical advice on shopping for food with less plastic. I will also start to discuss how we can reduce the plastic involved with household cleaning and self-care products so visit again soon!

Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle

Bread Sticks and Other Baked Goods

Here’s an easy way to REDUCE your plastic footprint:

REFUSE to purchase bread products in plastic bags. Bring your own cotton bag or other container to the bakery and fill it with your favorite baked goods.

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We bring our own cotton bag to the bakery at the start of Mileel Street (behind Ibrahim’s veggie shop). There we can buy bread sticks, crackers, fitteer, and fino sandwich rolls – all without the plastic bags. The bread sticks and crackers are usually not bagged so it is easy to fill our bag with how much we want and then weigh and pay. Sometimes the fitteer and sandwich rolls are already in plastic bags. It just depends on our timing. But if the bread is already in plastic bags, we REFUSE to buy it and will return at another time to purchase the bread straight from the trays. (Just FYI, the bread sticks and crackers are bought by weight but the fitteer and sandwich rolls are bought by the piece.) And although we don’t usually buy them, I imagine you can also bring your own container to purchase the cookies and other sweets available at the bakery.

 

 

Plastic-free Lunch

plastic free lunch

Looking for a plastic-free lunch to get on-the-go? REFUSE the little plastic bags that most street food stalls offer and ask for PAPER instead. Abu Ahmed’s shop, next to Ghazala market in Asalah Square, has paper and if asked they will put your sandwiches – and even a fresh bunch of arugula – in paper. We have shared the “Basic Concept of Plastics” (in Arabic) with the owner and he has shown interest in learning more about the problems with plastic. If more customers begin to REFUSE the plastic bags, it may help convince them that paper is okay (and that we aren’t the only crazy ones in town!).