10 Eco-Friendly Products for Your Next Vacation

The tide has finally turned and there are now more opportunities than ever to participate in sustainable and responsible tourism. Cruise lines, hotels, and tour operators are beginning to ban plastic straws to protect marine life, and companies like Intrepid Travel started offering vegan food adventures. Many argue that flying is bad for the environment, but did you know that eating a vegan diet can reduce your impact much more than flying less?

There are also other ways to help the planet– by investing in companies offsetting carbon emissions and further reducing your footprint by embracing eco-friendly products. For this piece, I’ve reached out to avid travelers around the world and asked them to share their favorite green products. So the next time you are packing for a trip, keep these in mind for the sake of Mother Earth.

1) Have Clean Water Anywhere with Katadyn BeFree Bottle

Photo courtesy of Katadyn BeFree Bottle Facebook

Every traveller knows how important it is to stay hydrated on the road, but constantly buying bottled water is both expensive and terrible for the planet. That is why I love my Katadyn BeFree water bottle with a built-in filter. I’ve used it while hiking in the Andes, volunteering in the rainforest, and in cities where the tap water quality is questionable. Not only does it save me money, it reduces the amount of plastic waste I’m throwing away. Just be sure to take care of the filter and rinse it frequently so it continues to taste good and perform well. ~ Contributed by Thea Wingert, Zen Travellers

2) Hit the Road with OluKai Vegan Shoes

2) OluKai Vegan shoes
Photo courtesy of Lola Mendez, Miss Filatelista

One of the biggest challenges of going vegan for me was finding suitable travel shoes that aren’t made from animal products. Luckily, OluKai makes vegan-friendly great all-around sports shoe, the Eleu Trainer. I’ve worn mine through dirt, rain, and sand, but they’re incredibly still in great shape. They’re stylish and comfortable, and I don’t have to worry about tripping over my laces! The shoe was inspired by the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association, which makes me feel like I’m part superhero. OluKai supports the Ama OluKai Foundation, so every pair of these vegan-friendly sneakers also give back to cultural preservation in Hawai’i. ~ Contributed by Lola Méndez, travel writer, Miss Filatelista

3) Pack Light & Repel Bugs with ExOfficio Clothing

3) Bret and Mary wearing ExOfficio Clothing
Photo courtesy of Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, Green Global Travel

ExOfficio clothing has been one of our must-have travel items ever since we discovered the brand back in 2011. We were headed on a small ship cruise to the Galapagos Islands, where cabin space was minimal and laundry services were not available. We needed clothes that were extremely lightweight, breathable, offered protection from the sun, could be easily washed and dried overnight, and which preferably could work while hiking the rugged, lava-strewn landscape AND eating dinner at night.

The fact that their BugsAway line also offered built-in protection from insects for up to 75 washes was just a bonus. The company has grown a lot over the last 8 years, adding cold weather clothes and fashionable styles such as the reversible Zhanna Leggings, tunic-length Tatra Pullover (also reversible), and Cosima Jacket, which rolls up into an interior pocket to become a great travel pillow. Check out this guide to The Best Travel Clothing for Every Travel Style. ~ Contributed by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, Green Global Travel

4) Power up with a Solar Charger

4) Solar charger
Portable Solar Charger, photo from Amazon.com

Although I’ve only had a solar portable charger for a few months, it has become one of my essential travel items. I constantly need to recharge my smartphone because my battery runs out very quickly. A solar portable charger uses sunlight to recharge the phone so it is especially useful for travelers who spend a lot of times outdoors. I love using my solar portable charger because not only is it eco-friendly, I also never have to worry about finding an outlet or power source. ~ Contributed by Patti, The Savvy Globetrotter

5) Opt for an Ethically Made Scarf

5) Happee Scarf
Photo courtesy of Leticia Sales, Co-founder of Happee

My favorite travel item is a cotton sarong/scarf with a print of a world map. The print is totally wanderlust, and I’ve worn it at several occasions for the past three years. I’ve worn it as a beach towel in Thailand, to cover my head while visiting mosques in India, as a sarong to visit temples in Bali, and on several buses and planes when the air conditioning was too cold. It’s easy to fold, to wash and to carry along. But for me, the best part is that it was ethically handmade by artisans in India. For anyone interested in buying, Happee ships worldwide from India, and the easiest way to buy in USD is to shop on Etsy. ~ Contributed by Leticia Sales, Co-founder of Happee

6) Produce Less Waste on Your Period with the Cup and Reusable Pads 

6) Reusuable Pads
Reusable Pads, photo from Amazon.com

The average woman uses over 11,000 tampons in her lifetime…that’s a lot of waste! Single use feminine hygiene products are also made from a type of plastic that takes a lot of fossil fuel to produce. In fact, a year’s worth leaves a carbon footprint of 5.3 kg CO2 equivalent. I started using a reusable cup and pads around three years ago and have never looked back. Please, don’t feel grossed out! They are so easy to use and much easier than dealing with tampons and pads. No more having to touch those filthy bins in public toilets either. One cup will last around 10 years so it’ll save you a small fortune. At night I’ll often wear a washable pad too, just incase. For other ways to reduce waste in the bathroom, check out this article on Zero Waste Bathroom. ~ Contributed by Amy Jones, Family Edventures

7) Pack a Reusable Shopping Bag

7) Reusable Shopping Bag
Baggu reusable bag, photo from Amazon.com

One of my favorite eco-friendly products is my reusable shopping bag. Bringing a reusable shopping bag when I travel is an easy way for me to be more eco-friendly. Instead of using a plastic bag every time I shop for groceries, souvenirs or anything else, I use my reusable bag to carry back my loot. I have owned my Baggu reusable bag for over five years and I take it with me on every trip. In addition to being eco-friendly, I love that it is lightweight, durable, machine washable, and it folds into a little pouch.  ~ Contributed by Matilda, The Travel Sisters

8) Use Eco-Friendly Sunscreen to Save Coral Reefs

Aloe Vera Sun Lotion
Aloe Vera Sun Lotion, photo from http://www.therestorecentre.ie/

I was really surprised that an Eco-friendly sunscreen exists and I was not sure why until I did my own research. Regular sunscreen is actually toxic for the animals that live in the sea, it pollutes the water and poisons the fishes, coral reefs, and other living creatures under the water. I highly recommend Aloe Pura or Aloe Pura Body. I only started using it earlier this year and I love it, it does the job as good as a regular sunscreen and the price is just the same. Be a responsible traveller and make sure you add this to your Eco-friendly travel accessories for your next beach holiday.  ~ Contributed by Mary Charie, A Mary Road

9) Ditch Plastic Bottles and Go with S’well

9) Swell Bottle
Lavanya Sunkara with S’well bottle on a road trip in Maine

I was introduced to the insulated S’well bottle three years ago when my husband received it at a conference, and I haven’t gone a single day without it since. My 17oz bottle keeps water cold for up to 24 hours, and is perfect for long road trips and flights. It’s easy to fill up at airport water fountains, and even fits in my purse for long days exploring new places. The bottle does come in other sizes and super cool designs. It’s also lightweight, easy to clean, and always keeps water fresh. I must’ve prevented thousands of plastic bottles from going to the landfill over the years, thanks to S’well. These bottles also make perfect gifts for the travelers in your family! ~ Contributed by yours truly, Nature-Traveler

10) Bid Goodbye to Tiny Bottles, and Hello to Solid Shampoo

10) Solid bars from Ethique
Ethique solid shampoo bars, photo from Facebook

I switched to solid shampoo two years ago and have never looked back. It’s perfect for travel as it lasts for ages and takes up very little space, there is also no problem taking it in your hand luggage. But the best thing is it completely cuts out plastic waste and most brands are eco-friendly so I don’t have to worry about washing my hair while camping or travelling in areas where water drains straight back into a river or ocean. Ethique makes a brilliant range and uses no plastic packaging. I also love the ones available at LUSH. For more eco-friendly travel accessories, check out Top Eco-Friendly Travel Accessories to Help You Travel Green.  ~ Contributed by Rohan, Travels of a Bookpacker

Feel free to share your favorite eco products in the comments below. Happy travels!!

Header photo courtesy of Leticia Sales of iamHappee.com.

Published by Lavanya

Lavanya Sunkara is a writer, animal lover, and globetrotter based in New York City. She has written for The New York Times, Fodor’s, Architectural Digest, Shermans Travel, The Dodo, and many more in a career spanning eight years. She covers travel, eco-lifestyle, culture, pets, and wildlife conservation.

One thought on “10 Eco-Friendly Products for Your Next Vacation

  1. Great. What about doing Yourself new bags from empty coffee bags? Everyone can make them according to my wife’s instructions. First bags:

    How to make bags from empty coffee bags

    These are popular in Finland. Did You know that You can make even evening bags from empty coffee bags? Here:

    How to make evening bag from empty coffee bags

    This is more difficult, but everyone wants to save our planet.

    I think that quilters are pioneers of reusing things. Here:

    Quilted hand bags and toiletry bags

    Have a wonderful day!

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