Zero-Waste Travel: 11 Eco-Friendly Items Every Sustainable Traveler Needs

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Last updated on August 4th, 2022 at 05:25 pm


We are all familiar with the current issues with the huge amounts of pollution being produced on a daily basis. 

Travelling in itself accumulates a lot of unnecessary waste – many single-use plastic bags, tickets, receipts, boxes and cutlery from takeaways, and the list goes on. I am not saying that all this waste isn’t being produced while not travelling – it certainly is, but somehow I get the feeling that it grows rapidly during our days abroad. 

All these items, which are being used once or twice, and then tossed away,  eventually end up in a landfill or in the ocean, remaining and contaminating our environment for hundreds of years. 

This is exactly why every single one of us needs to be(come)  more mindful of the waste they are creating and think about ways to bring it to a minimum.

Zero-waste travel or living is very unrealistic and unattainable for most of us. But there are still ways in which we can significantly reduce our waste footprint on this planet. It’s not about going full-out and trying to drastically reduce your waste. It’s all about small steps – start with just 1 or 2 changes and you’ll soon realise how good it feels to be a sustainable and to help protecting our planet.

In this blog post I cover 11 items, which will undoubtedly help you live a more low waste lifestyle and reduce the use of single plastics. I also mention a few other tips on how to travel in a more sustainable and eco-friendly way.

All the items on this list are available on Amazon Prime with 2-day shipping (if you end up procrastinated on buying a gift after all). If you don’t already have Amazon Prime, make sure you grab your free 30-day trial​ now! 

So let’s start!

Zero-waste travel: 11 Eco-friendly items every sustainable traveler needs


The first must-have and most important item every eco-friendly traveller should own is a:


1. Reusable water bottle

I believe the only way to show you how serious the issue with plastic is, is by talking in numbers. So let’s look into plastic water bottles. Did you know that:

  • Plastic bottles require up to 700 years to dissolve.
  • 38 million plastic bottles go to landfill each year in America alone.
  • 80% of plastic bottles never get recycled.

When I was in high school some time ago, I remember buying a new plastic water bottle every single week. Just knowing that all these bottles I have tossed throughout the years are still somewhere out there, polluting our environment, makes me sad. 

If only I had bought a reusable water bottle back then…

I now own a glass water bottle for my every-day life and a steel one for when I am travelling (for the sole purpose of avoiding breaking it). 

A lot of countries offer good drinking water, so make use of this and always refill your own bottle. Just by doing this one thing, you’re already contributing greatly to a better future.


2. Reusable Cutlery

When buying take-away food, it mostly comes with plastic cutlery, which is only used once (for this one meal), and then thrown away. Think about how much waste this creates in the long run. And it’s so unnecessary – it can easily be avoided with one simple switch.

Get yourself some reusable cutlery and bring it on all your travels – this way will be sparing yourself and the planet a few pairs of forks and spoons, maybe even per day. 

Check out this eco-friendly and super lightweight spork, which doubles as a bottle opener at the same time.


3. Menstrual products

This part is for all my ladies out there. If you’re a guy – you can either skip this part.. Or just man up ;). 

A couple of months ago I decided to make this big shift and give the menstrual cup a go. I had been reading all these awesome reviews and the benefits I had heard about certainly outweighed my doubts.

This may be the best solution ever invented for our female ‘needs’.

Menstrual cups are not only way more secure and comfortable than pads and tampons, but they are also much more eco-friendly.

Think about the amount of tampons and pads every single female has to use throughout her menstruation.

By investing in a menstrual cup (which can last you for up to 10 years btw!), you will not only reduce the amount of money you spend on hygiene products every month, but you will also create way less pollution. Check out this one and make sure you go through all the amazing reviews if you need any more persuasion.

If you do feel hesitant about taking this step, why not look into some menstrual underwear or just reusable sanitary pads – there are many options.


4. Bamboo Toothbrush

The first plastic toothbrush was created in the 1930s and manufacturers haven’t stopped ever since. This means that every single toothbrush, produced since then, is still somewhere on this earth, existing as a piece of trash. 

According to statistics, most people will replace around 300 brushes during their lifetime. Plastic toothbrushes are not recyclable due to small parts getting stuck in the machinery. Another interesting fact from this same page is that ‘if you laid out the toothbrushes thrown away in the U.S. in a year, they would wrap around the Earth four times!’

This is why switching to a bamboo toothbrush is essential. 

On top of its eco-friendliness, bamboo toothbrushes come with a few other perks as well.

They are naturally antimicrobial, which limits the growth of bacteria at a large scale. You also don’t need to worry about the material they are made out of – bamboo is supposedly the fastest growing plant on earth, and it doesn’t require any pesticides and fertilizers to grow.

I recently ordered this exact set of bamboo toothbrushes for me and my family – they are great because every toothbrush has a different colour, and you won’t have to worry about mixing them up.

If you need just one for yourself, check out this one.


5. Refillable shampoo and conditioner bottles

I know that buying these small travel shampoos and conditioners is much more convenient, simply because they are already pre-packaged and they are cheap.

But think about all the waste you could be avoiding if you only had refillable bottles which you used every time. 

Check out these travel-sized bottles – they come with a see-through bag, which is perfect for flying.


6. Soap and shampoo bars

An even better and more eco-friendly alternative are the soap and shampoo bars. They usually come in paper wrapping, which is recyclable, and the product itself lasts a pretty long time, even longer than liquid ones. 

All in all, you’re left with a very sustainable product, which is also perfect for travelling product. You won’t have to worry about liquids, since all you’ll have is bars. 

Check out these vegan and 100% biodegradable bars.


7. Shopping bag

A shopping bag is a must-have zero waste travel accessory. At some point during your trips, you are going to want to go groceries shopping or just buy something. 

Instead of getting a bag from the shop and tossing it after one use, bring one with you and use it every time you need it.

These bags are washable, durable and extremely lightweight, and can also be packed very small, which is very convenient while traveling,


8. Reusable straw

These small, often unnoticeable utensils, are actually turning into a big issue when it comes to plastic pollution. Around 500 million straws are used every single day in the U.S alone. 

According to a study from 2017, around 8.3 billion plastic straws are polluting the beaches around the world. 

If all of us made the small change in our lives to invest in a reusable straw and stop getting straws at restaurants or bars, the issue could slowly be reduced. 

I recommend these vegan and 100% biodegradable bars.– it comes with a pouch to keep it in, as well as a cleaning brush.


9. Reusable storage bags

Whenever we want to keep some food products fresh and in a secure ziplock bag, we often opt for plastic ones which are then only being used once.

Instead, invest in some reusable storage bags which will eventually last you a much longer time, save you money in the long run and help preserve the environment in the meantime. 

Check out these silicone, plastic free ziplock bags


10. Drinking cup

A lot of people love getting a coffee to-go. This coffee usually comes in a cup, which is being used only once and then tossed in the trash. 

Reduce this unnecessary waste by investing in a reusable drinking cup, which you can bring with you wherever you go.  

I recommend this one – it’s made out of stainless steel and the vacuum insulation makes it safe and perfect for travelling.


11. Collapsible tupperware

Reusable tupperware can be very practical when traveling (and not only). 

Oftentimes when eating out people like to get the rest of their food to go. Restaurants would usually give you a one-use box and put it in a plastic bag, both of which will most probably only be used for you to bring the food home, eat it and throw the rest of the stuff away.

Bring your own reusable tupperware wherever you are so you avoid unnecessary rubbish like this.

If you’re on the go and you’re trying to travel on a budget, you can cook a bigger portion of food at once and bring some of it the next day for lunch.

This reusable and collapsible (!) tupperware is more than perfect for traveling. It takes minimal space in your luggage, but it’s also very handy when you happen to need it.


So these were my top 11 zero waste travel items I’d recommend for every traveler to get their hands on. Is there anything you’d like to add? Let me know!


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Lyubomira Doncheva
Lyubomira Doncheva

Lyubomira is the creator and author behind Bulgarian On The Go. With a background in journalism and experience in the field of tourism and marketing, her mission is to show travellers many beautiful places they might have never thought of visiting or even knew existed.

Find me on: Instagram


- This article contains affiliate links. For every purchase made through one of these links, I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thank you! -        

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