How To Be A Zero Waste Traveler: Our Eco Experts Share Their Top Tips

4 Mins Read

Travel is a pursuit that involves a great deal of waste. From plastic hotel toiletries to the airline’s single serve complimentary beverage service, it can be easy to create a ton of trash before even arriving at your destination. But it doesn’t have to be! Planning ahead before your travels and being mindful during your work conference or holiday can lessen your ecological footprint at any given destination. We spoke to a slew of zero waste experts and asked them to share their top tips on how to be as environmentally conscious as possible while traveling. So before you head on your next trip, follow these tips and tricks to pack with a purpose and travel green! 

Hannah Chung of Zero Waste Challenge

One of the OG Zero Waste Heroes of Hong Kong, Hannah Chung began documenting her zero waste adventures on social media, @thezerowastechallenge, where she regularly shares how she stays waste-free.

  • “Buy a discounted Airport Express ticket via booking platform Klook and scan through the barriers with a QR code – easy and paper-free!
  • Carry reusable cutlery (chopsticks and spoon only- my fork confiscated at security once!), reusable box, metal straw and water bottle for eating on the go.
  • Bring shampoo bars, conditioner bars, and soap so that they’re package- and fuss-free! I also bring a bamboo toothbrush and toothy tabs from Lush instead of toothpaste – they’re little tablets you chew that will turn foamy when you start brushing. Return the bottles back to Lush where they can handle the recycling.”

Adam Broadbent of ZuBlu

The founder of ZuBlu, Asia’s leading dive travel company showcasing sustainable business practices and supporting local conservation efforts, Adam Broadbent knows a thing or two about traveling light and responsibly before and during your excursions.

  • “A couple days before travel, put your home “to sleep.” Check your fridge for any perishable foods and make meal plans accordingly rather than chucking them out during your mad rush to the airport. Turn off all devices and plugs – even TVs on standby will consume energy.
  • Pack smart to avoid the surge of single-use plastic and other waste by bringing your own travel cutlery, reusable shopping bags and cloth napkins. Restaurants rarely have real napkins.
  • Eat local! Not only does this support local communities, but it also reduces the carbon footprint of your food and will more often than not be seasonal produce.”

Smita Jairam of I Quit Waste

We first met this zero waste influencer while interviewing her for our No Poo article earlier this year. As an environmental consultant for sustainable agriculture, Smita spends half the year traveling for conferences or fieldwork around Southeast Asia.

  • “Pack as minimalist as possible and stick to one carry-on backpack: less luggage means less fuel used on flights.
  • Think multi-purpose for your beauty needs: bring a small 50ml glass bottle of face oil (almond oil with carrot seed essential oil as a natural sunscreen) and a 100ml glass bottle of coconut oil infused with rosemary leaves for your hair- it hydrates the ends and prevents breakage (my DIY recipe can be found here) and also doubles as a facial moisturizer.”

Ashley and Sam of The Green Shoestring

The duo behind of our favorite sustainable travel blogs, The Green Shoestring, Ashley and Sam quit their jobs in 2015 and moved from Colorado in the US to Asia to travel the world. After years of witnessing the harmful side effects of tourism, these digital nomads now take careful measures to respect the places they explore.

  • “Prepare your own Zero Waste Travel Kit before you leave. In addition to your bringing your own food containers and cutlery, pack a small UV water purifier (we use one called a Steripen) so that you can always have safe drinking water and never have to buy any plastic bottles.
  • Buy your own luggage tags to save from having to use disposable ones at the airport.
  • Learn some key “green phrases” in the local language to prevent accidental waste. Accidental waste happens when someone puts a plastic straw in your drink or your food in a styrofoam container before you even have a chance to say otherwise. When we lived in China, we learned to say things like, “No straw please,” “I don’t need a bag,” and “Put it in my container,” in Mandarin.
  • Don’t forget to return your room key! Forgetting it means the hotel/hostel/guesthouse will have to make a new one and leaves you stuck with a useless piece of plastic in your wallet. This simple act is also a great way to remain mindful of your waste while you travel.”

Images courtesy of Pexels and Freepik.


  • Jenny Star Lor

    Jenny Star Lor is Green Queen’s resident eco wellness writer. She is passionate about reducing her carbon footprint, loves all things fitness and enjoys tasting her way through Hong Kong’s veggie dining options. Originally from Los Angeles, she now calls Hong Kong home. Previously, she wrote and reported for global publications such as The Hollywood Reporter and US Weekly. She is also a passionate pole dancer and teaches classes across Hong Kong.

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