From sunscreens to footwear and even the clothes on your back, no matter how small, every item has an impact on the environment.
Simply making a few careful decisions about what goes in your suitcase can be the difference between protecting the planet and polluting it.
A little overwhelmed? I can help! I’ve compiled a list of my favourite eco-friendly travel products that will help you reduce your impact and be a more sustainable traveller wherever you go.
By making the switch to these eco-friendly travel essentials you’ll be cutting down your carbon footprint and supporting small businesses and amazing causes around the world.
Oh and guess what? Some of them will even help save you money in the long run too!
Single-use plastic water bottles are not only costly (particularly if you’re buying one a day) but they’re also a scourge on the planet.
According to the non-profit Ocean Conservancy, 8 million metric tonnes of plastic enter our oceans every year on top of the estimated 150 million metric tonnes already in the marine environment!
My absolute go-to is LifeStraw Go. It can remove 99.9999% of all waterborne nasties including viruses, disease-causing bacteria, heavy metals, chemicals, microplastics and protozoan cysts.
Love drinking from a straw but worried about the environmental impact of those pesky plastic versions? You can get straws made from all kinds of materials like bamboo, pasta (yes, really!), paper and stainless steel.
Packing a reusable straw is a simple and nifty way to incorporate a zero-waste lifestyle when you’re travelling. I personally like this set that comes in a little pouch and with silicone brushes to keep them hygienic.
Say no to throwaway plastic cutlery by using a set of reusable bamboo versions instead. This set of bamboo utensils comes in a pouch so they’re easy to carry. You can also personalise your set so there’s no risk of them getting mixed up with anyone else’s.
These sustainable travel products come in handy whenever you’re having a meal out and about from picnics to street food. They’re smooth to touch and can easily be washed in warm water.
Plastic bags are one of the biggest waste offenders. Countries like Kenya and Indonesia have banned or put taxes on them. Still, it’s estimated that 500 billion of them are used annually worldwide. That’s about one million every minute!
One simple solution is to pack a variety of reusable bags that you can use throughout your trip. I love using this organic cotton tote by From Belo.
It’s a handy bag for when you’re out and about or heading to the supermarket. Every bag purchased provides one meal to those in need in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
A sturdy bag that can handle whatever gets thrown at it is an important travel essential. The sturdier the better because you don’t have to replace it as often and it will keep your belongings safe.
A good option is Osprey Europe. All their bags are vegan and they incorporate recycled materials where possible.
Osprey Europe’s bags are known for being exceptionally durable and they will even repair rather than replace products under their ‘All Mighty Guarantee.’
I have a Women’s Fairview 40L (they have a men’s version too – Fairpoint). It’s a lightweight backpack that’s perfect for casual hiking trips or as a carry-on (check luggage size allowances). I love that it has multiple pockets and it’s comfortable to wear.
My one complaint is that it does get quite bulky but that’s probably due to my packing skills…
I’m a little bit obsessed with solid toiletries. I’m talking about bar versions of all essentials like shampoo, conditioner, face cream, moisturisers and even cleansers.
I love using these eco-friendly travel toiletries because they’re zero-waste on top of being plastic-free (no packaging!). They last three times as long as liquid versions which makes them economical.
They also pass airport security so you don’t have to worry about squeezing all your tiny liquids into a bag and there’s no chance of spills.
They don’t take up much room either. The only challenge is transporting them without them getting dirty. For that, I recommend a soap tin.
Finding the best solid toiletries depends on your hair and skin type. Personally, I like this shampoo bar by Ethique for my flyaway hair. It makes my hair clean and shiny without being too heavy. I don’t need to use a conditioner with it either.
If you have favourite liquid toiletries that you don’t fancy giving up, that’s fine! Instead of buying travel-sized versions of them when you travel, I recommend GoToobs from humangear as a zero-waste alternative.
Made from squeezable food-safe and BPA free silicone, they have large openings for easy access to fill up and clean. There is a range of airport security accepted sizes available and a varied choice of colours.
Travel-sized toiletries run out quickly, and they’re expensive to keep buying. Meanwhile, they add to the already straining landfills. It’s not a cost-effective or sustainable solution for any traveller in the long run!
Sunscreen is a crucial part of our health wherever we go but the regular kind is actually terrible for the environment. Oxybenzone, a chemical found in most sunscreens, affects the DNA of young coral causing them to become fatally disfigured.
Now, more destinations are encouraging the use of sunscreen made from zinc oxide or titanium oxide as they are biodegradable and don’t interfere with marine life – particularly when snorkelling or diving!
Some destinations, including Hawaii and Palau, have even put an outright ban on all sunscreens containing oxybenzone.
You’re not always likely to find reef-safe sunscreen in your typical pharmacy or supermarket so it does require a bit of forward planning.
My particular favourite is Green People.
This particular brand works alongside the Marine Conservation Society to raise awareness of the effect that the chemicals in regular sunscreen have on marine life. Their own sunscreen contains certified organic natural ingredients and is gentle on skin.
Sustainably sourced bamboo material doesn’t just boast comfort. It’s antibacterial, which means it stays fresh for longer – ideal if you’re packing light and you don’t see a washing machine for several days.
Bamboo clothing cuts out 97.%5 of UV rays so you know you’ll be protected when holidaying in hotter climates. Thanks to its hollow microfibre material, it’s both warm and breathable. It can also wick away moisture from the skin.
Bamboo clothes are perfect for backpackers and luxury travellers alike. They make your packing list more eco-friendly because the source of the material is more sustainable to cultivate and harvest than cotton.
Bamboo is a grass that can grow naturally without the use of fertilisers and pesticides. It can survive off rainwater, and the soil remains in a much healthier condition because bamboo is cut rather than uprooted. It is also the fastest-growing plant in the world!
BAM is a brand that caters to all your bamboo clothing needs from activewear to t-shirts and socks. I love their bold patterns and prints.
The irony in most regular outdoor gear is that, although designed for the outdoors, it’s not actually outdoors-friendly. Unbelievable, right?
Most outdoor gear contains PFCs which are human-made chemicals that are used for their waterproofing properties. Most PFCs are toxic, non-degradable and have been found in organisms around the world.
The same PFCs on outdoor gear were discovered in remote lakes and even in the livers of polar bears.
Led by the Greenpeace campaign ‘Detox Outdoors’, many companies have begun phasing out the use of PFCs, but the industry has a long way to go before there are any real, significant changes.
The problem is PFCs are effective and nothing quite matches up to them – yet.
Both Patagonia and Jack Wolfskin are committed to cutting out their reliance on PFCs and they have some good-quality sustainable travel gear.
An astonishing 300 million shoes are thrown out every year in the UK. On top of that, footwear accounts for 16% to 32% of the fashion industry’s total environmental pollution.
So, what’s the alternative?
Comfy shoes that are made from eco-friendly, durable and recyclable materials. My favourite is Tropicfeel. They sell a range of travel-inspired clothes, shoes and accessories that are designed for any adventure.
Their trainers combine the practicality of a walking boot with the casual style of a trainer. The shoes are 100% plant-based and made from recycled and eco-materials including plastic bottles!
Solar-powered eco-friendly travel products are an amazing way to reduce your carbon footprint and make sure all your important electronics are charged wherever you go.
A solar charger ticks both those boxes and you don’t have to worry about finding a reliable place to charge your phone.
I particularly like this power bank because it doubles up as a flashlight so it’s perfect for camping. It’s also dustproof, waterproof and shatter-resistant. Not bad!
I can’t tell you how many times a sewing kit has come in handy while travelling. It’s an essential part of any eco-friendly travel kit (just be careful of the scissors if you’re flying with a carry-on!).
You can patch up items that would otherwise end up being thrown away. It also saves you money and time because you don’t need to find a replacement.
Duct tape can also be handy for this too.
Durable stainless steel food tins or Tupperware make an excellent way to cut down on food waste. You can use them to store leftover meals, lunches and snacks.
You can get them out when you want to avoid styrofoam containers that restaurants tend to put any of your leftovers in. You might also be able to use it at a street food market.
This leakproof lunch box has a handy removable divider and you can put it in the oven to heat up your meals. No need to track down an oven dish!
I love a good coffee in the morning but buying takeaway drinks when you’re out and about can get wasteful. Not to mention a lot of takeaway cups aren’t recyclable.
If you enjoy your caffeine fix as much as I do, it might be worth investing in a reusable coffee cup.
I like this one that’s specially designed for travel. It’s made with stainless steel to keep hot drinks hot for 6 hours and cold drinks cold for 12. It also has a fully leakproof resealable lid to guarantee zero spills. Handy.
It’s always a good idea to keep the sun out of your eyes. One of my favourite sustainable travel accessories is Bambooka Sunglasses and theydo a pretty decent job of it.
Plus their frames are made from bamboo, not plastic. This is particularly ideal if, like me, you’re prone to accidentally breaking your sunglasses.
In fact, if your old pair gets damaged you can send them back to Bambooka and they will give you 25% off your next order.
Bambooka is a unique brand as it’s volunteer-based. All profits are donated to their partner charities that provide eye care around the world.
Did you know that when washed, clothing made from synthetic materials releases small pieces of microplastics that end up in our waterways?
An easy solution is to put them in a guppy bag before they go into the washing machine. This Guppy Friend Washing Bag can simply be tucked into a corner of your bag until you need it.
This simple little essential will help you protect marine life and fight against plastic waste wherever you go.
Another bonus? It’ll prevent some of your more fragile garments from getting damaged in the machine!
Another way to cut out plastic is through your choice of sanitary products.
Tampons and pads can be a bloody nightmare for the environment. Not to mention they’re not always readily available in some parts of the world. Queue a bag filled with sanitary products in every available nook and crevice…
Do your bag, body and environment a favour by investing in a pair of WUKA underwear or a menstrual cup.
A lot of people swear by the menstrual cup although it does have some pros and cons to consider. For example, it can last up to 10 years which is a huge amount of money and waste saved! But you do have the tricky issue of keeping it hygienic while travelling.
If you’re unconvinced by both of these, & Sisters do a range of biodegradable sanitary products. They still count as eco-friendly travel products!
After switching to a bamboo toothbrush I’ve never looked back since. They work just as well and last just as long as their plastic cousins. I would even say they’re more gentle on gums and teeth.
The Truthbrush is a great quality toothbrush. Once it’s reached the end of life, you can put the handle into the compost bin but you’ll have to pull out the bristles first as they’re yet to be fully recyclable!
Top tip: after you’ve used your bamboo toothbrush, put it somewhere for the bristles to drain out. This will help it last longer. They can last up to three months.
Keep your eco-friendly toothbrush safe by putting it in a bamboo travel case. This toothbrush case is made from polished bamboo.
The amazing thing about bamboo (as we’ve previously covered) is that it has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It’s zero-waste and biodegradable too!
hope I’m not going nuts, it really is a detergent that grows on trees. The magic is in the shells which have a natural surfactant called saponin which creates soap suds and cleans and softens clothes without damaging the colours.
Soap nuts are particularly useful for those with sensitive and allergy-prone skin as they’re hypoallergenic.
Approximately 300g lasts for 100 washes which is about 3p per wash. Economical AND ecological. It’s a double win, really.
Ditch makeup wipes and opt for a reusable version instead. They’re much better for your skin and the environment.
Choose from cotton makeup pads, bamboo makeup pads or a nice and simple face flannel. The great thing about these eco-friendly travel products is that they can be washed and reused over and over again.
I personally use an anti-bacterial face flannel to dry my face after washing my makeup off with jojoba oil and warm water.
It’s a routine that’s never failed either at home or abroad.
Every year, 2 million razors are thrown away and the majority of them end up in landfill as their mix of materials makes them difficult to recycle.
Luckily, stainless steel safety razors are here to help you make the switch to a more sustainable shaving routine. Stainless steel is infinitely recyclable so it never has to end up in landfill.
I like this razor because it’s easily transportable in a travel pouch and you get a razor blade tin to help you safely dispose of used blades. The shave also leaves your skin beautifully smooth.
You don’t need DEET to keep the bugs at bay. Leaving it on the shelf will only be doing your body and the environment a favour. Instead, there are eco-friendly versions that are just as effective without the toxic chemicals.
This one by Badger has kept people safe in the rainforests of Costa Rica and by the ‘mosquito-infested canals of Malaysia’ according to one reviewer.
It’s also travel-sized, cruelty-free, certified organic and comes in a little metal bottle. They do a tin version too for extra sustainability points.
If you’re the type of traveller that likes to do a bit of everything whether it’s urban sightseeing, hiking, adrenaline sports and more, knowing what shoes to pack can be a bit of a conundrum.
Let’s face it, filling your bag up with bulky shoes is less than ideal. So, what if you could pack one shoe and be sorted no matter where your adventures take you? That’s exactly what Tropicfeel can do.
The brand’s new WD1-21 All-Terrain sneaker can take you from the streets to the great outdoors.
They’re lightweight, comfy, odourless, water-friendly and quick drying. They’re also sustainable, made from recycled polyester and EVA from unused or waste materials.
One for the music lovers and podcast listeners! House of Marley are no strangers to making their tech as eco-friendly as possible and the portable wireless earbuds are no exception.
They’re made from bamboo, natural wood fibre composite and Marley’s own REWIND™ fabric.
They have a 9-hour onboard playtime and a battery life of 32 hours in the case which makes them handy for long journeys on the road.
It’s crazy how so many of our toiletries are encased in plastic. Standard deodorants and antiperspirants also have the added bonus of containing toxic chemicals.
Some of them even have aluminium which blocks your pores and prevents you from sweating (sweating is actually very important for your health).
Wild have created natural deodorants that are effective and kind to your body. They offer a refillable case made from aluminium and recycled plastic which you can fill up with your favourite deodorant scents.
It’s delivered to your door in subscriptions as much or as little as you like. These eco-friendly travel products can easily be slipped into a bag when on the go too.