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Plastic free travel is a journey in itself

Tuesday, September 18, 2018 3:54 PM | Anonymous

 By Cathy Earle, Eorth

Living your day-to-day life plastic free is a challenge, however after you’ve completed a few months or a year you’ve usually figured out a routine on the best methods of reducing plastic waste.

This may include shopping at bulk food stores, taking a reusable water bottle everywhere you go or recycling and composting food waste. But what about those times when you break away from routine, and set off on a journey? How easy is reducing plastic usage while travelling?

As I head off to Canada for a month-long trip, I’m about to put plastic free travel to the test.

Step one packing: what items can I take that will help reduce plastic waste? Not just at the final destination, but also during airport/airline travel?

Plastic free essentials for airline travel – reusables: water bottle, coffee cup, straw and mesh bag for any duty free purchases. The essentials once you reach your destination: Plastic free toiletries such as a bamboo toothbrush, dental floss and deodorant. Not essential but handy to have: Beewax wraps for storing leftovers, reusable metal containers and reusable bamboo cutlery for takeaways.

The reality . . . when travelling by plane, you’re probably not going to have room for some of the handy to have items. Also reality, you may be prepared with your reusable items, but is the surrounding environment prepared for you?

It’s 4am as I hit the road to the airport. My reusable coffee cup and reusable water bottle are stored in my carry on.

I’ve now passed through security and start scanning the Cairns Airport for a refill station (no luck). After an unsuccessful attempt to refill my bottle under the sink in the ladies room, I enquired if there were refill points anywhere in the airport. I was directed towards a hallway outside another block of toilets. Again unsuccessful – it was simply a water fountain and there was no way the bottle was going to fit under the tap. Cairns Airport please take note – this is a needed facility. I resorted to asking the coffee shop to fill my bottle for me. Finally — success.

As I’d already had my fix of caffeine for the day, I didn’t need to test out the resuable coffee cup. I’ll save that for the international flight – which is sure to bring a slew of plastic horrors. 

However, kudos to the coffee shop for their great initiative, their bio cups are made of a cardboard material, which are then reused for planting seedlings. 

I wonder how I can get hold of some of these?

We’ve now boarded our flight, and the attendant is walking the aisle handing out blankets. I’m typically the first to say yes to a blanket, heck give me two – airline travel is cold. But as usual the blanket is . . . wrapped in plastic, that’s a no. Luckily, I’m already prepared with warm clothing.

Now they’re handing out sandwiches. While a ham sandwich is definitely not something I’m interested in eating, again hats off to QANTAS for serving the sandwich in a cardboard box – no single use plastic in sight. 

They also filled my husband’s water bottle with OJ. Wouldn’t it be great to learn they compost the cardboard and food waste too!

The journey has just begun and so far I’ve only thrown out one Styrofoam tray from the coffee shop (why is anyone still using Styrofoam? – this could be so simply replaced with a paper plate).

Be sure to follow up on how the rest of the plastic free journey went at

Until then, safe plastic free travels.



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