REFUSE – REDUCE – REUSE – RECYCLE – ROT
These principals shared with the Zero Waste community by founder Bea Johnson have lead a movement that has inspired many to drastically reduce their waste. For my recent trip to Long Beach Island, NJ, I applied these principles to three sections of the traveling experience: Packing, Traveling, and Destination. Doing this allowed me to reduce my impact while also sharing the impacts of trash with those around me.
While I was packing to prepare for the 10 day trip, I refused what I did not need. I brought a toothbrush, some toiletries, and a few pieces of clothing. In addition to this, I brought items that would allow me to prevent the need for disposable products such as a water bottle, bulk bag, and grocery tote that doubled as a beach bag. By packing only what I needed, it allowed me to reuse and refuse with ease once at my destination.
I was able to refuse single waste disposables on the plane by bringing my own water jar, fruit, and a container with hummus and bell pepper. While traveling in the United States, you can bring a water bottle through the security line so long as it is empty, and fill it up at a water fountain once through security.
If you’re lucky, you might find a water bottle filling station like Denver International Airport has!
Traveling is an important place to reduce waste since there are so many disposable opportunities in airports and on flights. Between plastic cups, paper napkins, cocktail straws, and packaged snacks and meals, the average American passenger produces about 1.3 lbs of trash per flight, according to Green America’s 2010 study, which can be found here.
At my destination, I was able to refuse most single use products, though not all. Where I was unable to divert my waste, I took the opportunity to talk with those around me about the crisis of waste. Through this trip, I had many a conversation with my family about the harms of trash. I have been refreshed to see my mom begin to refuse plastic bags and water bottles! I am so impressed with how much her awareness and commitment has grown just from our shared discussions about waste. Further on in the trip, my dad and I discussed the need to ban plastic bags nationally, and how this might come to be. It was enlivening to share this passion with my family and to have them be so receptive.
Read Brooke’s full article here.