How to reduce your waste traveling

No comments

Traveling can be fun. Traveling can be not so fun. I’m writing this after a two hour delay flying home from San Francisco, post argument with the rental car company about gas charges and leaving my phone charger on the security belt. That’s after I left my entire suitcase there the other week flying to Cleveland.

The fun ones are when you know that you have a vacation on the other side, without cell service and the uncomfortable feeling of something new ahead that you’ve never seen before.

If you’re in either of these buckets for your departure, you can always make a positive impact by reducing the waste that typically occurs with traveling. This is not by fault of you at all – but more so how the airlines and airports offer things to us as consumers.

If we really want to get technical, we can start by the beginning of your journey.

  1. Make a list. If you’re like me, you forget things a lot more than you’d like to admit. To avoid this, I always jot down a list before I leave with the usual cell phone charger, wallet, keys, etc. This time around, add “Water Bottle” and make sure to empty it (or drink on the way) to take with you.
  2. Choose Uber Pool. There are always people going to the airport close to you and I’ve never had an experience that has cost me a significant amount of time using this feature on the way to the airport. You’re saving an extra car from going to the exact same place and saving money.
  3. Once you arrive and you are past security – fill up that water bottle baby! I used to always buy a Dasani for the plan ride but now you don’t have to. I love when the airports have the filtered fountains and tell you how many plastic bottles the machine has saved from waste.
  4. If you like to drink before your flight and order a cocktail (they have amazing ones at the Centurion Lounge!) just remember to ask for no straw.
  5. If you’re eating out at an airport restaurant, a lot of them don’t offer metal silverware, only plastic. I’m assuming they don’t have elaborate dish washing facilities (Chickie & Pete’s for example). If you know that you are ordering something that you don’t need silverware for, cough cough, crab fries, you can let them know to not serve any to you. I’ve watched way too many servers throw out unused cutlery that was served to the consumer that didn’t need them.
  6. If you want water as your free drink from the flight attendants, use your water bottle! I’ve gotten rejected so many times from trying to do this but I’ve found that asking in this way typically works. On my way to San Francisco, the woman next to me asked the attendant to fill up her water bottle. She was rejected, saying that it would be cross contamination. The woman responded, “Poor mother earth.” And the flight attendant proceeded to say, “It doesn’t matter.” It does matter.

On my way home, I tried this and worked so well-

“Hi I’m trying to be as zero-waste as possible and I was wondering if you could please fill up my water bottle with water instead of the plastic cup. You can make sure it doesn’t touch so there’s no cross contamination.” The flight attendant accepted and asked me to take off my lid. He even poured way more water in there than any of those dinky cups can hold!


What happens if I want soda? I sure do love a good Pepsi with the pretzels. Ensure that you ask for the whole can (they shouldn’t give you a hard time) and say that you don’t need ice or a cup. That way, you’re just using the can.

What if I forget and just get the plastic cup? No worries. Just make sure you keep that cup for the next time that they come again so you can reuse it. I usually stick it in my bag. I’ve tried sticking it in the pocket in front of me, but it typically breaks.

Small things are always big things in the world of sustainability.

If you have any suggestions on how to travel creating less waste, let me know! I’d love to add to this list and start practicing myself.


The Sustennial

Leave a Reply