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  • Writer's pictureMolly

Zero Waste Essentials for Backpackers



Zero waste can be a backpackers best friend. I have now been a regular backpacker for almost 10 years, I have gone from a maximalist packer to a minimalist one and have learnt the hard way the products that are essential and those that are not. This blog is a reflection of that and is designed to help you be a little bit lighter, more frugal and save plastic.


Menstrual cup my period routine is not plastic free all the time, but my moon cup is one of absolute essential packs. It's lightweight, comfortable and gives me confidence that I have everything I need when I need it. It saves some space from carrying tampons but mostly the peace of mind that I don't need to stock up, I have everything already. I use a Mooncup, but have also had a none branded cup that was great too.


Shampoo bars Not all shampoo bars are made the same, some are better than others and I do thoroughly recommend testing out a shampoo bar before you are reliant on it for a big trip. However, once you've got your bar they are absolutely brilliant for saving weight, space and money. It's a win win, just make sure you dry out your bar between washes. On the same vein, face cleansers now come in solid forms. If like me, you need a very gentle specific soap for your face, invest in a good solid cleanser. I really love the Ethique facial cleanser bar, although pricey it is incredible.


A good backpack although it might not sound specifically zero waste, ask a seasoned backpacker and they will probably agree, that a good backpack is a great way to save waste long term, will allow you to have pockets and space to get properly prepared and organised. You can pack up your bag with essentials to reduce waste, but also save going through backpacks quickly- as they will soon get beaten up.


Quality sandals This year I invested in Birkenstocks, in the hope that they last me a decade. Investing in quality shoes can also better for your feet and posture. Good quality sandals can allow you pack less, as they can be dressed up or down, so they're great for your travelling capsule collection.


Solid deodorant I haven't use 'wet' deodorant for many years now. I either make homemade deodorant, buy zero waste or similar solid deodorants. They last so much longer than roll ons, are not a liquid so are lighter, can be taken as hand luggage, they're easier to transport and I find they're more effective. My favourite plastic free deodorants are Cacao Pow and No BO bar from Primal Suds.


Solid perfume You may see this as a bit of a luxury item, but I love perfume and long term travel needs a few luxuries. Solid perfume is exactly that. Additionally, once finished, the tins are great for travel snacks.


Spare beeswax wrap for those slices of cake to go or leftovers in restaurants to reduce waste (food and plastic) and save money. Check you can bring real beeswax to your location, there are vegan alternatives if needed. The real bonus of wax wraps is that they can fold so small yet keep your food together tightly. Ideal for travel pack lunches.


Reusable spoons or forks (or both) are handy to allow quick, cheap feeds on the go. Wooden cutlery is very light and fairly hardwearing, it saves a plastic cutlery and gets you out of a pickle if nothing is available. It also means you can more easily pack up your own goodies. I do sometimes carry a metal spoon, but if you're flying during your trip it might be worth skipping metal cutlery.


Reusable water bottle I don't leave the house without my reusable bottle and it's a no brainer to carry one for longer trips. Refill at cafes, designated refill points for a very easy and practical way to reduce plastic bottles. Just make sure you wash your bottle with hot soapy water every so often. I thoroughly recommend purchasing a stainless steel bottle that will endure bashing in your backpack during your trip. My water bottle is the exact bottle below, purchased many years ago, so I don't remember the brand but good outdoor shops will have one similar.


Reusable shopping bag I pack a very little weight reusable shopping bag,

that can fold up small but pack lots when full. I will use the bag for the beach, for shopping, heading out for the day, for picnics, the list is endless and prevents bag purchases along the way.


A sarong or scarf This is one of the first things I ever wrote about, how handy a sarong is

for travelling. You can use it for warmth, shade, to sit on, as a shirt, a skirt, a makeshift tent or bag and so much more. You can wrap a freshly baked loaf in it, can use it for privacy in a hostel- you name it.


Those are my favourite zero waste items I always pack when backpacking, I love reducing my waste whilst backpacking and saving money. I have quite a good routine for what I need and have compiled items that will last, make my travels comfortable and ensure I'm more sustainable all-round.


This blog is produced without any sponsorship or funding from brands and products named.




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