Whilst most of us want to reduce our plastic consumption, the term zero-waste can seem like an unrealistic ideal. Yet the term zero-waste is more of a goal rather than a state. As the ZeroWasteChef said “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” Therefore, rather than be overwhelmed by the term make little steps today! To inspire you to be more zero-waste friendly whilst travelling as a vegan this a beginner’s guide to items you may want to include in your travel kit. For your next trip you can use these items for your own vegan and zero-waste travel kit. Hope this guide helps beginners make their first steps on their zero-waste journey.
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- What is zero-waste?
- Zero-waste shops
- Pre-trip zero-waste planning
- Vegan Zero-Waste Travel Kit Ideas
- What to watch out for as a vegan with zero-waste products
- Are zero-waste products more expensive?
- Post-trip zero-waste Tips
What is Zero-waste?
“Zero Waste is the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse and recovery of products, packaging and materials without burning, and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health ” This is the official definition of Zero Waste as adopted by the Zero Waste International Alliance. Essentially, Zero Waste is a set of values which focus on waste prevention and encourages recycling. The ultimate goal of zero waste is for no rubbish to end up in landfills, incinerators, or in the ocean. Luckily there are now some fantastic zero waste products available for your vegan and zero waste travel kit.
Pre-trip zero-waste planning
You have booked your holiday! Maybe you will be staying at a vegan b&b or a vegan hotel and you have started to look around to see what vegan food is close to your accommodation. Now it is time to have a think about your zero-waste and vegan packing list! It is a good idea to give yourself enough time to try some of the products before you go away, especially a shampoo bar as their success can vary depending on your hair type. You also probably already have some of these zero-waste products lying around the house. So pop along to your local zero-waste shop or scroll down to the vegan travel zero waste kit ideas before you head on your trip.
It is great to support your local zero waste shop! If you live in the UK, click on this link to find your nearest zero-waste shop. You can get inspired and have a feel and smell of the products before purchasing them. Often the shop assistants will be a fountain of knowledge. When I was looking for my first vegan shampoo bar, I was unsure which one to go for. Luckily the owner of Ecotopia, a zero-waste shop in Leeds, had tried all of them and knew which one was best for which hair type and gave me advice on how to use it. Zero-waste shops can be treasure troves of vegan goodies. Hopefully one day, the zero-waste shop will be the new normal.
Vegan Zero-Waste Travel Kit Ideas
Here is a list of 6 vegan and zero-waste items for you to include in your zero-waste and vegan packing list. This list is by no means exhaustive and is perfect for those who are just beginning their zero-waste journeys.
Zero-Waste Bamboo Toothbrush
Bamboo toothbrushes are the perfect addition to your zero-waste travel kit! How many plastic toothbrushes have you used in your lifetime? How many years did you use them for and how long will it take for them to decompose? Forget the nasty plastic ones and consider buying a bamboo toothbrush. Few plants grow as quickly as bamboo and they do not require much water to grow making this a very sustainable material. There are many very reasonably priced bamboo toothbrushes on the market. Two good vegan-friendly ones are BROU bamboo toothbrushes and Nubeter bamboo toothbrushes. Both of these bamboo toothbrushes are plastic-free, vegan, sustainable and biodegradable. BROU even plant a tree for every purchase. Win win! You can also find bamboo toothbrushes at your local zero waste shop.
Zero-Waste Vegan Shampoo Bar
A shampoo bar is ideal for your zero-waste travel kit. Not to mention you do not have to worry about it bursting and spilling everywhere in your bag. A vegan shampoo bar is perfect for those beginning their zero-waste journeys. Often, we are forced to buy tiny plastic shampoo bottles which fit under that 100ml limit if we are flying. These tiny plastic shampoo bottles will take anywhere between 200-500 years to disintegrate. Most of the time, consumers do not even finish the contents of these tiny bottles making them incredibly wasteful. A shampoo bar on the other hand will not fall under this liquid restriction and does not require plastic packaging. They are also more concentrated meaning that shampoo bars tend to last longer than liquid shampoo. Also you can use it as soap as well making it very versatile and multifunctional.
A perfect shampoo bar for beginners is this living naturally soapnut bar. It is ideal to try a shampoo bar before embarking on your trip to see if the shampoo bar suits your hair type. Some shampoo bars can leave little specks of soap and others may leave your hair feeling greasy. For normal hair types the living naturally soapnut bar is an excellent choice for zero-waste beginners. The living naturally soapnut bar leaves your hair feeling soft and smelling slightly of coconuts.
The naturally living soapnut bar is suitable for vegans. The shampoo bar is ethically made and is eco-friendly. Also this zero-waste goodie is free from SLSs, Parabens, Phthalates, Formaldehyde, Petroleum and Perfu. A shampoo bar needs to be in everyone’s zero-waste travel kit.
Zero-Waste Bamboo Cotton Buds
Another item you can add to your beginner’s zero-waste vegan travel kit are bamboo cotton buds. Bamboo cotton buds are actually much nicer than their plastic equivalents. Not only are they made of bamboo, which is a very fast-growing resource, but they do not unravel as easily. The bamboo stick is also slightly thinner and less bulky which is a more pleasant user experience. As bamboo cotton buds are simply the eco-friendly version of plastic cotton buds, they are perfect for zero-waste beginners as you can simply swap them over. Not to mention, these cotton buds are completely paper packaged and plastic-free!
Zero-Waste Reusable Water Bottle or Coffee Cup
Did you know that in the UK alone, 7.7 billion plastic water bottles are used each year! The average UK citizen uses a mind boggling 150 plastic water bottles every year! Often when we go away to warmer climates such as Spain or Thailand, that number can triple as we are dehydrated and therefore consume more water. Yet these bottles will take several centuries to break down. Therefore, every zero-waste beginner needs to include a reusable water bottle in their vegan zero waste kit.
Using an eco-friendly reusable water bottle or reusable coffee cup will not only help the environment but it will not alter the taste of your drink. CasaBasic’s bamboo coffee cup for example is made from organic bamboo fiber which will not change how your drink tastes! Also you can put it in the dishwasher and when you no longer need it, it will biodegrade. Every zero-waste conscious individual needs a reusable water bottle or reusable coffee cup for their zero-waste travels.
Perhaps a tea towel seems an odd item to choose for a beginner’s zero-waste kit. Yet a tea towel is the perfect zero-waste item! Often when you are travelling you will want to make sandwiches or wraps for a picnic or for hiking food. Don’t buy plastic bags or tin foil, simply wrap your vegan sandwiches in a tea towel and use hair ties to secure! You could also use newspaper or if you have a glass tub that would also work for transporting vegan snacks. Just make sure you do not get caught out and just use hair ties… the mango chutney started to fall out of our wrap haha!
Zero-Waste Vegan Cloth Bag
One item that every vegan traveller needs is a cloth bag. A cloth bag is perfect for any food shops and other travel items you need with you. In Thailand and China, for example, often shops will automatically start to put your food shop into a plastic bag. Politely gesture that you have come prepared with your own zero-waste cloth bag and start to put your items in there instead. Again a plastic bag will take centuries to break down and is often only used once. You will probably already have a cloth bag lying around just waiting to come on your trip. If you do need your own tote bag you can get these really cute vegan tote bags from Vegan Outfitters. Their tag line is “Our vegan tote bags are strong enough to hold your books, groceries and emotional baggage!” These vegan tote bags would make the perfect vegan zero-waste item for your beginners zero-waste kit!
What to watch out for as a vegan with zero-waste products
Zero-waste does not mean a product is necessarily vegan. Watch out for honey in zero-waste products as a vegan. This applies especially with lip balms and other beauty products.
Are zero-waste products more expensive?
Zero-waste products can be more expensive than their plastic counterparts. Yet they often last longer making them better value in the long run. For example, a shampoo bar can cost more than a bottle of shampoo but will last months if not even a whole year! So yes zero-waste products can be slightly more expensive, but can you put a price on saving the plant?
Post-trip zero-waste Tips
Don’t forget that you continue to use your zero-waste kit after your trip! Take your bamboo reusable coffee cup on your commute. Your vegan shampoo bar is perfect for those occasional trips to the gym due its ease of transport. Of course, you can continue to use your vegan tote bag for food shops at home. Make sure you use them and that they do not sit collecting dust with your suitcase.
What else can I include in my beginner’s zero-waste travel kit?
There are of course far more items you can include in your zero-waste travel kit such as toothpaste capsules, menstrual cups and reusable straws but do not overwhelm yourself at the start. As with veganism, transition gradually to make it part of your lifestyle change. Make sure you use up shampoos and your other cotton buds first before purchasing new ones. Purchase only what you need and enjoy your zero-waste journey!
What will you be including in your zero-waste travel kit?
Hope you found this vegan zero-waste travel kit for beginners useful and inspiring! Tell us in the comments below if you are already using some of these vegan zero-waste products or which ones you would like to add to your zero-waste travel kit!