How can one adapt your 5R philosophy to travel?
Whether we’re home or away, our efforts focus on my first 3 R’s, since they prevent waste (i.e, those items meant for the landfill and those that are recyclable).
Refuse : Refusing allows you to curb the demand for (and therefore the creation of) products that are needless and waste natural resources. While travelling, it is easy to refuse free promotional goods (such as those offered in festivals), samples (individual soaps, shampoo and lotion containers in hotels, see Reuse), flyers (such as restaurant ads handed out on the street), restaurant disposables (paper napkins and placemats, straws, sugar packets etc.
- Since we own little, we can easily rent our home; its rental pays for weekend getaways and vacations.
- We do not need to agonize about what to pack… Since it all fits in a carry-on, we can take it all! (see my tips on how to reduce your wardrobe in my book )
- Traveling with a a carry-on eliminates the cost and the non-recyclable sticker created when checking in luggage, makes travelling easy, and minimizes time spent at the airport (no need to wait at the checking counter or luggage claim, no worries of the airline loosing your luggage). With a smartphone, no need to print your boarding pass either.
Recycle: The 5R’s are to be applied in order, therefore, once you have refused, then reduced, then reused as much as possible, then there is little (if anything) left to recycle. Recycling is only of interest to us if bulk locations are nowhere to be found (which is rare), in which case we inquire about the local policies and purchase our food accordingly.
Rot (Compost): Many cities in the world are now collecting compostable materials (I even found some receptacles on beaches in Mexico), but if we do not have access to compost for our fruit and veggie scraps, we bury them in the ground. If I find myself with an apple core at the airport (an apple being a great easy-to-get snack on the go), I bury it in a plant -although I’ve found that locating a live plant in an airport is no easy task… I am considering building an app to locate those too 😉
Many organizations provide carbon credits to travelers: what’s your take on the subject? do you use them?
What’s your method to get water on the road (theSteripen, iode capsules, local water, etc.)?
A few years ago, I went to Argentina and Chile with a group. The organizers of that trip recommended for us to drink bottled water. I noticed that our guide drank water from the tap, so I did too and did not have any problems. Once on the expedition boat for Cape Horn, he switched to bottled water, so I switched to tea. I believe that besides the fear of getting sick, many tourists also drink bottled water simply for the lack of carrying their own reusable container. It is up to each one to inquire about the potability of local water (see if the dangers are real), but also to remember to bring a reusable bottle along. If you open your eyes for filtered water fountains (or kettles in hotel rooms), you’ll see them everywhere.
When we backpack and depend on river and lake water, we use a clay filter.
What do you suggest we do in countries where recycling is not available ?
Do not let the lack of recycling receptacles let you assume that it is non-existent. Inquire about it because in many countries, such as Brazil, the separation of recyclable materials is actually done at the landfill, by “pickers”, and in Vietnam, by individuals. That said, as I mention above, Zero Waste luckily does not rely on recycling, but my first 3 R’s, which eliminate the need to recycle anything at all.
What do you do with your leftovers when traveling?
Whether we treat ourselves to a dinner out at home or while travelling, we do not have leftovers. We have learned to order jus what we need and prefer to place a new order, if we underestimated our hunger. If bread is left in the basket, which is more the case, I wrap it in the cloth bag mentioned above for a snack, unless we run into some ducks;)
Practicalities put aside, what makes our trips different from before is to #collectmomentsnothings: That ultimately is what makes our travels so much memorable.