10 ESSENTIAL MUST PACKS
Being conscious of your impact on the planet, is never more apparent than when travelling. Snorkelling around tropical Islands, you'll see for yourself that our planet is full of wonderful ecosystems that are under threat. Tourism is a huge economic draw for a lot of the most beautiful areas around the world, and development relies on tourist visits.
Unfortunately, with a boom in tourism often comes huge destruction. Either by construction, poor management or a lack of facilities to deal with big expansion in numbers.
Here we name the 10 top eco items that we pack. From one traveller to another, heres 10 practical, inexpensive items that you can take to lessen your environmental impact on your next trip.
1. REUSABLE OR NON PLASTIC STRAW
Plastic straws are everywhere. In remote locations, or islands waste disposal is often non existant (espceially in rapidly constructed tourist hubs) or very very difficult. Mix this with tourist looking for smoothies and cocktails and very delicate ecosystems and wildlife, you have a recipe for disaster If like me you enjoy straws, take your own, remember to ask for no straw and enjoy yourself guilt free! See our articles on which to choose, glass steel or paper if you can't decide whats best for you.
2. REUSABLE BOTTLE
Yet another plastic one. Plastic is a HUGE problem when you're travelling. It's best to limit all of your single use plastic whenever possible. Taking a reusable bottle is a really great way to save money too. It's really a no brainer. Just make sure you top up where you know the water is safe. P.S. I guess I should really include reusable coffee cups in this one. I don't always take mine with me on trips. But it just depends where you're going. For me it's a luxury to enjoy a coffee in the cafe and thats part of travelling! So I rarely NEED mine, but if you know you like your coffees to go, don't forget it!
3. ECO SOAP
Soap with less strong chemicals, are important in areas that have very little proper sanitation and waste management. I.E. Your shower washes straight into the jungle or ocean. "Eco" soaps can actually mean a huge range of things (plastic free wrapping, palm oil free, vegan... the list goes on) but your best bet for travel is a real bar of low chemical soap. Soap bars last forever, produce minimal suds and are cost effective. There are also lots of fantastic all in one soaps if you can't face a soap bar, including Dr Bronner and Life Venture All Purpose Soap.
4. REEF FRIENDLY SUNSCREEN
Sunscreen can cause big damage to coral. "Sunscreens cause the rapid and complete bleaching of hard corals, even at extremely low concentrations" was the startling finding in this paper publish in 2008, investigating the role of sunscreen in a marine environment. (Bleaching involves the organisms working in the coral, becoming expelled and eventually leads to the coral dying).
Number one tip is not to swim during the hottest parts of the day. Lathering up in sunscreen and heading out into the blue at midday is super silly. Enjoy a siesta and head out a bit later. When you do go for a swim, use reef friendly sunscreen.You want to avoid sunscreens containing OXYBENZONE. Our Number one recommended sunscreen of choice is People 4 Ocean. Not only is this sunscreen incredibly luxurious, smells incredible and is reef safe but it is also funding further coral restoration. A true eco business to write home about.
Buy it here: http://www.people4ocean.com/store.html
5. DEET FREE INSECT REPELLANT
DEET is horrible. When washed into a water way (like swimming at the beach) it can be deadly to fish and invertebrates. DEET can also damage clothes, plastic and electronics. I choose to keep my skin environment and belongings free of DEET. But being safe from mosquitos is both very important for health but also for comfort. Luckily there are some very good eco friendly DEET free insect repellant. My go-to repellant in Mosiguard, that has kept me safe whilst living in Dengue regions.
6. BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSH
They're light weight, cheap and a no brainer. Being, biodegradeable most bamboo toothbrush bodies can be composted once finished. Meaning one less piece of plastic that will last forever. The bristles are often made of plastic, but can be ecyedl. Check your brand of toothbrush to find out more. The brushes we stock in our store are bamboo with recycable bristles. Woohoo!
7. REUSABLE BAG
Reusable shopping/ beach bags. One of the most useful items to have in your bad, can organise your packing, use it at the beach and in the shops to avoid another plastic bag! Yay for your yay for the Turtles.
9. SOLID FLIP FLOPS
Everyone lives in flip flops whilst travelling. They are the easiest and the best thing for jumping in and out of boats, avoiding hairs in the hostel showers and for beers on the beach. But buying cheap flip flops is a false economy. Popping out, wearing down very very quickly only leads to more cheap plastic/ rubber flip flops being produced and bought, and most likely that means they end up in the ocean. They are one of the most commonly picked up items from Malaysia (Thats my insta picture from last year!) Buying better quality flip flops will save you money long term, and prevent some waste.
P.S. Havianas look much nicer too.
10. SOLAR CHARGER
A more expensive must pack for our tenth option. But a real must if you're a gadget freak! Keep your electric topped up all with the power of the sun. On the run you can keep taking photos, without putting pressure on local power supplies. I have a super lightweight solar pack that keeps my battery life going on the go.
I've written of my love of sarongs in my blog before. Might seem sad, but actually sarongs are you number one tool to pack as little as possible. They can be used for a million and one uses. Read more on sarong love on the blog.