Do you consider yourself an avid traveler?
Traveling is an opportunity to experience different cultures, visit foreign countries, and learn about different ways of life. You also get to appreciate the beauty of nature more.
You must know about these things already. But has the idea of zero waste travel ever crossed your mind?
Traveling in general has a number of negative effects on the environment. Planes alone emit an enormous amount of carbon dioxide, hotels use gallons of water to wash sheets and towels, and thirsty travelers like you purchase a ton of plastic water bottles throughout your travels.
In short, traveling consequently produces a substantial amount of waste and pollution.
So does this mean that traveling to Cebu or any other city or country in the world is bad for the environment? In some ways, yes. But you can always do your part to reduce waste.
All you need to do is practice being eco-friendly.
When you think of being eco-friendly, you probably think of things like riding your bike across the country. Well, that can apply, but eco-friendly traveling is so much broader.
It includes many “green” activities like zero waste travel.
What is Zero Waste Travel?
Zero waste travel is part of the zero-waste-movement that picked up steam in the early 2000s. It’s the act of traveling in a way that limits the amount of trash generated by travelers.
The goal of this movement is to promote responsible production (eliminating packaging and toxins), sustainable consumption (only purchasing things you need), and recycling (whatever you can’t consume).
The concept of zero waste travel also encourages reducing single-use plastics. It promotes the elimination of forms of harmful refuse, especially packaging that ends up in landfills and incinerators.
Recycling and composting are the foundations of zero waste travel. Guilty of producing more waste when traveling?
Don’t let guilt prevent you from traveling. Practice being eco-friendly so it can lift remorse and help preserve our nature.
Here are some simple things that you can start with:
1. Pack lighter.
First things first, you need to pack early so you can carry only what you need. Packing during the last minute of your flight is a crazy rush. You’ll end up piling up whatever you think you might need without giving it proper thought and consideration.
But wait, how does it relate to zero waste travel? If your bag is lighter, the plane or bus you’ll be taking will be lighter as well. This means that fuel consumption will be lower.
Important Tip: Pack zero waste travel toiletries. Instead of disposable products like bottled shampoos and single-use makeup wipes, bring eco-friendly alternatives:
- Shampoo bars
- Bamboo or wooden toothbrush
- Washable makeup wipes
2. Bring your own reusables.
Whether you’re a first time or repeat visitor to Cebu, you’ll notice that Cebuanos love using plastic or products contained in plastic material. Shampoos, soaps, and even their coffee come in tiny sachets.
If you buy sodas from a sari-sari store, vendors will transfer the soda from the bottle to a tiny plastic bag and give you a plastic straw to sip with.
Tip: To reduce the use of single-use plastic bags, bring your own tote bag (regardless if you’re at the supermarket or buying souvenirs). You can also bring your own liquid container to minimize the use of straws or purchase sodas that come in a glass bottle.
Other eco-friendly products you can use are the following:
- A silicone or zip lock bag
- Packing cubes and bags for laundry
- Reusable containers, cutlery, and straw (either made from bamboo or steel)
- Food wraps (can be made of cotton fabric)
3. Practice paperless transactions.
You can keep all of your boarding passes, receipts, and bus tickets on your phone. Going paperless in your transactions will reduce your carbon footprint and help save our forests.
How does paper contribute to more carbon emissions?
When paper is not recycled, 80% of it ends up in landfills. The decomposition of papers in landfills produces methane – a greenhouse gas with 21 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide.
Plus, producing paper requires a large number of trees and a significant quantity of chemicals and water. That’s why if more papers are used, more trees need to be cut.
Do you know what’s worse when more trees are being cut? It’s the occurrence of rapid deforestation. Rapid deforestation refers to the decrease of forest area across the world for other uses, such as urbanization, mining activities, and massive paper production.
You wouldn’t want that, right? Now rethink your travel habits. Skip the paper tickets!
4. Bring your own water bottle.
Single-use plastic water bottles are probably the worst plastic waste out there. According to a study by the group Travelers Against Plastic, they found that every adventure tour operator uses 30,000 single-use plastic bottles for water each year.
Fact: A reusable water bottle takes less oil to produce, replaces all the plastics that you would have used, and thereby reduces both your carbon footprint and helps reduce the plastic burden on landfills, oceans, streams, and other places that plastic ends up.
5. Start at Home
Start adopting a “greener” way of living. Going green means embracing a life that helps preserve the environment by reducing, recycling, and reusing.
To start doing this, you need to:
- Reduce energy costs and consumption through the use of renewable energy alternatives (geothermal energy, hydroelectric, and wind solar)
- Recycle biodegradable products and create DIY items
- Use energy light saving bulbs
- Use reusable bags when shopping or buying groceries
- Carry a reusable water bottle
It’s not easy to avoid plastic in your life, especially when you travel. From the moment you wake up and brush your teeth with a plastic toothbrush to when you eat dinner at a fast food restaurant using plastic utensils – plastic is infiltrating our lives in both big and small ways.
Let’s face it: reducing waste by avoiding plastics doesn’t end with the zero waste travel movement. To make and see a difference, you must maintain a zero travel mindset wherever you go.
Here’s a simple memory aid for the “5 Rs” of zero waste travel:
- Refuse: Say no to packaging and single-use plastics such as bags, straws, and hotel toiletries.
- Reduce: Pack light and try to shop less when traveling. But if you want to buy plenty of souvenirs, you can bring your own bag.
- Recycle: Throw plastics in the recycle bin. These plastics can then be reprocessed into a new product.
- Rot: If possible, find a compost bin.
- Reuse: Bring reusable items such as water bottles, food containers, and bags.
Sometimes, it’s hard to put all these tips into action. But it’s always possible to reduce waste if we make an effort.
Start being eco-friendly and make your adventure a bit more sustainable in Cebu!