Traveling waste free
Last weekend, I was so blessed to attend a dear friend's wedding. It was the first time I attended a wedding that wasn't a relative or a family friend of my parents AND it was the first wedding I would be going to since being waste free & vegan! I knew the weekend was going to be SO much fun reconnecting with old friends, but I also knew it was going to be a challenge. Yes, being vegan & waste free is so worthwhile to me, but when traveling, it can be difficult. You have to be a bit more prepared or in my case, a LOT more prepared.
I wish I had taken a photo of the bag I brought in the car with me because it had a little bit of everything: bananas, oranges, apples, grapes, dates, celery, carrots, chlorella, magnesium, peppermint oil, vegan protein powder, oregano oil...and of course a mason jar, my Simply Straws glass straw, cloth bags for snacks & a bamboo utensil pack from To-Go Ware.
I looked like I was going away for a week!
But let me tell you, it was the key to my comfort and ease throughout the weekend. I didn't have to worry about finding something to eat on the drive there & didn't have to worry if I was going to have food that I could eat throughout the weekend because I had something within reach at all times.
The peppermint oil even came to the rescue & helped the bride, my dear friend, the day of the wedding! I brought some bananas and dates in my purse the day of the wedding in case I couldn't eat what they served at the reception, but the catererers were AMAZING and whipped up a vegan plate just for me! How sweet is that?!
So how did I fare? I'm proud to say that I was 95% waste free for the whole weekend! The only things I had to throw out were my contacts (which I now only wear for special occassions such as weddings) and the plastic container & straw the restaurant accidentally brought my smoothie in instead of a glass (I now have learned you have to be VERY specific at restaurants and say "please use glass & no plastic straw")
Here are my tips for traveling waste free:
PLAN! The biggest component of being waste free I've found is planning for the unknown. I am always taking a mason jar, bamboo utensils, a glass straw & cloth bags with me wherever I go; whether it's to work, to the beach, hiking, even yoga class, I always ALWAYS have these things with me in my backpack because you never know when the craving for a smoothie or another type of snack will hit.
Pack snacks. Again, you never know when hunger will strike. And we don't want to be hangry. So invest in some cloth bags that you can throw dates, dried fruit, carrot slices, cucumbers etc. into and go (I have both zipper bags & drawstring bags). If you're a DIY-er, you can absolutely make your own too!
Research the area. Before I left, I researched the area near the hotel & found a natural foods store AND a vegan restaurant within a 2 mile radius! I went to the restuarant for lunch one of the days, but didn't even need the natural foods store because I practically brought one with me :P researching really helps lower the anxiety you may have about not being able to find places where you can eat or grab bulk items & local produce
ALWAYS have a reusable water bottle with you. It saved my BUTT at the hotel, in the car AND at the brunch the day after the wedding. I didn't have to use disposable cups or buy a plastic water bottle the entire weekend! It's so important to stay hydrated, especially after a night of dancing & staying up late!
Don't be hard on yourself! Even though I was super bummed when I saw them bring my smoothie in a plastic cup with a straw, I had to remind myself that whenever I slip up, it is a learning opportunity. Now I know that I need to be proactive when I order at restaurants instead of expecting them to use non-disposables. Just because you are trying to be waste free, doesn't mean everyone around you is as well. We have become so accustomed to disposables and it takes time to undo those nasty habits (even reaching for a paper napkin is wasteful! ahhhh!) Be PRESENT & MINDFUL and take small steps every day to reduce your wasteful tendencies
Bring your own soap & shampoo! No need to use the hotel disposables! I buy bulk soap that's made with almond oil so it can double as a shampoo bar because of the rich lather. It smells amazing and it leaves my body & hair silky smooth. I also make my own toothpaste & deodorant and store them in reusable containters that make it easy to throw into my travel bag.