Some environmentally damaging factors of international travel are unavoidable – having to fly to your chosen destination being an obvious culprit (However, at GoKo, we know all about carbon offsetting our flights and we’ve covered that topic here).
As sustainable travellers, it’s up to us to make the right decisions when preparing at home for our trips abroad so we can minimise all traces of us every being in these beautifully fragile locations. From the land we occupy – even if just passing through – to the leftovers we leave behind in the local infrastructures and ecosystems, it’s now more important than ever to be conscious of every choice we make as we plan our adventures.
With this in mind, we have compiled a list of 5 popular travel products that are widely known for their comfort or convenience rather than their toxic properties. Research is always key on these types of topics, so we’ve helped you out a little:
1. Wet Wipes
As refreshing and moisturising as they may be, single-use wet wipes are incredibly stubborn on sewage systems and are often destined for oceans – particularly in developing countries. They also take 100 years to decompose and over 90% of wet wipes currently on sale contain plastic. A damp flannel or reusable wipe is the simplest alternative, but if you consider wet wipes a necessity, biodegradable and non-fragranced are the best way to go. How we dispose of them is also vitally important – even if your wipes are labelled as ‘flushable’, please avoid toilet disposal.
2. Miniature Toiletries
Often seen as fun-size novelties, there is something strangely charming about a ‘mini-me’ version of your favourite product – or we’re tactically swayed towards them when trying to pack light. Either way, we get through one hundred million of them per year in the UK. The key issue here is the popular miniatures trend discourages decanting bigger bottled versions into reusable containers – miniatures are tiny substitutes for the original products that are easier to recycle and more likely be used down to the last drop. The alternatives are solid bar products that need added water to activate – just as effective and won’t leak all over your folded wardrobe.
3. Sun Cream
Oxybenzone has been scientifically likened to gasoline for its harmful effects on coral reefs – and it just so happens to be the main ingredient in sun cream. Whenever we lather up to avoid sunburn and take a dip in the sea, we are unknowingly polluting our favourite getaways with waves of oily residue that secretes from our skin. To avoid contributing towards this, look out for bottled ingredients that contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide – they have been proven to be far less damaging than oxybenzone products.
4. Palm Oil Products
The excessive and irresponsible farming of palm oil is endangering species and destroying natural habitats. It’s also found in products that the majority of us use every day – and they may even fall under the ‘essentials’ category when travelling. These products include soap, shampoo, toothpaste, lipstick – and around 500 other supermarket items. But they are easily avoidable – it’s a simple case of checking and choosing brands that don’t support the reckless destruction that palm oil farmers are guilty of.
5. Washing Detergent
Longer trips may mean running out of clean clothes – and self-service washing machines in hostels aren’t always favoured. Utilising the luxury of a soft linen towel on a hotel stop-over sounds way more appealing than the ultra-thin, speedy-dry one you’ve packed especially – but shop-bought detergents aren’t giving us any advantages when it comes to sustainable living. Natural, eco-friendly powder is always the best option – it may feel time-consuming, and it sometimes is, but it’s worth the extra effort.
We invite you to add to our list by replying below with travel products that should have a worse reputation – we may have missed a few!