Welcome back to another edition of “Kaytee loves the environment and wants her clients to love the environment, too!” There are dozens of ways to honor the environment while traveling, and today’s topic focuses on eliminating your single-use plastic waste while traveling (or, you know, everyday).

A few weeks ago I wrote this blog post about reef safe sunscreen, and how to protect the seas from chemical pollution. But the ocean is at risk in many other ways, and the greatest risk stems from plastic pollution. I promise it’s not hard to make the switch from single-use plastic to eco-friendly alternatives. Here are my favorite standbys on vacation and in real life.

beach and ocean waves at the shore during sunrise

Look, in 2018, if you’re still using plastic bags, you’re in the minority. Reusable cloth shopping bags are cheap, easy to find, and last for years and years. Plastic bags are mistakenly eaten by many marine animals, because they look just like jellyfish. They also linger around for hundreds of years, breaking down into smaller and smaller microplastics. Many reusable bags fold up so small that you can fit a handful into your backpack or purse. So just do it already!

Drinking water from a single-use water bottle is hands down one of the easiest bad habits to break. Invest in an insulated reusable water bottle, like a HydroFlask, and do your part to leave single-use water bottles in the past. Prefer hot drinks? Insulated thermoses keep your morning coffee hot long past breakfast without needing to use a single-use coffee cup or styrofoam.

plastic bottle washed up on shore of a beach with sun in background

Okay look, I know you’re thinking that you’re not going to carry around a full set of silverware, but hear me out. They have these nifty camping sporks that travel well and can be used in a pinch when the takeout delivery guy tries to hand you plastic cutlery. Just give it a try - I promise nobody will give you weird looks.

Have you seen the photo of the turtle with a straw stuck in his nose? Tell him how important your single-use plastic straw is. I know there are people who need to use straws for medical reasons, and I respect that. However, there are so many alternatives, such as bamboo, paper, or steel that can be swapped out in place of the plastic. And for the rest of us? I bet you can consume an entire drink without a straw!

Thankfully many restaurants are switching to cardboard or compostable take out containers, but the majority are still plastic or styrofoam. When I travel, I pack a set of collapsible silicone food storage containers with lids. They’re perfect for storing leftovers in the condo or hotel fridge without producing unnecessary waste - and for picnics on the beach.

colorful paper straws up close

Of course, there are a million more ways to reduce your footprint while traveling, but these very simple tricks can cut back on the waste you leave behind at your destination. Many islands have limited room for trash and recycling, with most of it needing to be shipped offshore. The ocean is under great stress from the amount of microplastics floating around in it. So if you’re going to travel, especially with Malihini Travel, please travel respectfully, lightly, and consciously. The goal is progress, not perfection! Keep integrating these steps into your routine and soon enough they’ll be everyday habits.

What’s your favorite eco-friendly travel tip? Share it in the comments below!