These eco-friendly travel products will change your life for the better. Why you ask? Because once you start using these green products, you will never go back.
Now that’s something to dance about!
Incorporating these sustainable items into your everyday life will not only change your world for the better; it will change the world for the better. A win-win for you and the planet.
Let’s dive in!
Ditch the plastic in those travel-sized containers and go solid!
I LOVE solid shampoo and conditioner bars. They pack light, last forever, and you don’t have to mess with additional liquids in the airport security line.
My favorite solid shampoo and conditioner bars right now are Ethique. They have a wide variety of types, such as the shampoo and conditioner bundle for dry hair. The cost on Amazon for an Ethique shampoo and conditioner bar set is $29.
Ethique is a certified B-Corp (balancing purpose and profit) that was started in the kitchen of a university student. An Ethique shampoo bar has just eight percent of the carbon footprint of an equivalent liquid product. The bars contain no palm oil.
When you purchase direct from Ethique, shipments are carbon neutral and plastic-free! Cost: $15 for a shampoo bar + $17 for a conditioner bar.
I also love the Lush rose-scented shampoo bar when I’m traveling because it is really small (though it doesn’t last as long, obviously!)
Consider this: Of all the plastic the world has produced, 91 percent isn’t recycled. That means of the all-time, worldwide plastic production, only nine percent has seen a recycling bin.
You scrub this little guy on your body at the end of your shower and it serves as both an exfoliant and a lotion. After a quick rinse, you really feel like you’ve applied lotion. Plus there is no mess…and no plastic bottle!
Globally, we produce more than 300 million tons of plastic each year. Of that yearly production, more than eight million tons of plastic end up in our oceans.
Related: This post details more than a dozen sustainable lotion solutions, including a DIY lotion bar recipe. See the video for my DIY lotion below:
There are many more opportunities in the toiletry department to ditch tubes and plastic bottles! Face wash is one of those opportunities.
I am currently using a Lush facial cleansing bar. It’s good…but I can’t totally recommend it. I’m generally in love with Lush products, but this one is really messy and hard to lather. While I have zero complaints about the product itself on a daily basis, it’s really hard to travel with.
The upside is that it’s so large that I haven’t had to buy face wash in months! When I do try a new product, I’ll update this post. I think I’m going to back to Ethique because I’ve liked their hair products so much.
(Or order direct from Ethique for carbon-neutral and plastic-free shipping.)
It’s not only the plastic packaging that sticks around for 400 years before it degrades; most dental floss itself is made out of nylon, which is a form of plastic.
When I first purchased this plastic-free, organic floss made by Radius, I did it to reduce my plastic consumption.
What I didn’t expect was to love the floss so much! This floss slides between my teeth more easily than nylon floss and it hurts much less. Plus, Radius is a woman-owned company!
We use the cotton ends to clean our ears but guess what the part between the swabs is made of? You guessed it! Plastic.
Cotton swabs or Q-Tips contribute to the 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic that are in our ocean.
I tried to go completely Q-Tip free because poking something in your ear is not actually that great for you, but I just need the swab. If, like me, you must use Q-Tips here and there, try a bamboo swab like the ones I am using right now from the plant-based, cruelty-free company the Humble Co. Cost: $2.99 a box.
Better yet, order these biodegradable cotton swabs from EarthHero where five trees are planted for every order placed. Not to mention that this B Corp online platform commits one percent of profits to the planet, offsets the carbon emitted from shipping, and is aiming for zero waste in the workplace. Cost 2.99 for a box of 100 on EarthHero.
Use coupon code LENSOFJEN for 10 percent off your order.
Much like it takes trial and error to find the right shampoo for your hair, it may take some trial and error to find the right natural deodorant fit for your pits. I’ve tried many different kinds from solids to creams and I find the Little Seed Farm deodorant cream to work best coupled with a bamboo applicator (also sold by Little Seed Farm).
Beyond keeping me smelling fresh, Little Seed Farm offers what they call zero-waste shipping and packaging, and there is no frustrating, useless plastic wrapping over the top of the eco-friendly glass container. In fact, you can opt out of the item box and even ship back your glass container. And the packaging peanuts are made from grain, which means they are fully compostable or they dissolve in water!
Little Seed deodorant creams sell for $11.99 on sustainable site EarthHero and $11.99 directly from the farm. Use this link to get 10% off your Little Seed Farm purchase if you purchase from the farm.
Say what? That’s right! You don’t have to use those toothpaste tubes that are *not recyclable. There are other options. Like toothpaste tablets!
Right now I’m using the georganics natural toothpaste tablets. You can purchase these on the online sustainable marketplace EarthHero for $12.90 for 120 tablets.
I also use the Lush mouthwash tablets. Lush only uses recycled plastic, and their plastic bottles are purposely made very thin to reduce the need for plastic at all.
*Big news about recycling your toothpaste tubes and packaging! TerraCycle® and Colgate have teamed up in a new Oral Care Recycling program. Just sign up, print the shipping label, and ship your toothpaste tubes, caps, cartons, and even floss containers for recycling. You can sign up at EarthHero where you are buying your biodegradable cotton swabs!
Electric toothbrush heads are not yet part of the program in the United States, but the same Colgate/TerraCycle partnership in Australia is now accepting electric toothbrush heads, so, if you’re using electric toothbrushes, save the used heads because I think you’ll be able to recycle them soon.
In the meantime…
I use a bamboo toothbrush like this one.
More than one billion toothbrushes are thrown away every year in the United States alone. That’s enough to stretch around the Earth four times!
In 2018, 5.8 billion tampons were purchased in the United States. That’s 5.8 billion with a “B”.
Those tampons often come wrapped in plastic and with a plastic applicator. Pads, according to a study covered quite delicately by the National Geographic, include even more plastic, and both products end up in our landfills as “medical waste” that is not officially tracked.
I’m not here to continue the cultural shame that has long been a part of menstruation. I’m just here to point us toward a product that I absolutely love for offering an eco-friendly alternative to the tampon. Cost for a Diva Cup is $32.99 on Amazon.
It takes a little getting used to, but the Diva Cup is actually far more comfortable, far less work, and far less expensive than tampons or pads. Another win-win – this time for women and for the Earth.
Update March 2020: I made a switch to the saalt soft menstrual cup. The softer silicone is more comfortable for me. Sold by EarthHero for $28.99.
Using these reusable soap bags, I am able to get a good lather going.
These all-natural bags store bar soaps, reducing the need for plastic containers. Added bonus: They are also built-in exfoliators! Cost: $5.99 on Amazon.
I travel with my PleasingCare makeup removing, face cleansing towel, and I love it. Cost: $6.99 on Amazon.
But some people really like makeup removing pads or wipes and, after a night out with heavy eye makeup, I can understand! Going with the reusable makeup remover pads by Bambaw gets the job done sustainably. Cost: $11.99 for 16 on Amazon.
For me, the goal is to convert to solids packaged without plastic. But sometimes you just need to pack a liquid. When you do, the humangear GoToob is pretty much the best reusable liquid container on the market.
Made for travel, squishable and squeezable but with a locking cap, say goodbye to the possibility of a shampoo mess when you open your carry-on. Cost $18.99 for three on Amazon.
My reusable water bottle may just be my favorite traveling companion! I use the Nomader Collapsible Water Bottle because it rolls into a tiny, little ball when I’m going through airport security, and it works for both cold and hot drinks, so I never use a single-use coffee cup either! Cost: $21.95 on Amazon.
What do we do most when we travel? Arguably we eat! (Maybe drink? It’s a no-judgment zone here.) Make sure you have reusable dishes, cutlery, and cocktail glasses when you travel to reduce your footprint.
I love this water bottle so much that I often travel with two of them. (Check out my post on avoiding plastic water bottles – even when you travel – right here).
More than 22 billion plastic water bottles are thrown away every year. Only one in six water bottles purchased in the United States is recycled.
I meant it when I said no judgment! I almost never leave home without my reusable wine cup, but it is especially important when I’m getting on a flight. Those single-use cups for our wine and ginger ale break my heart.
Admittedly, the flight attendants do look at me a little funny when I insist on using my own cup, but most are appreciative of my efforts once I explain that I don’t want to use single-use plastic. And it almost always strikes up a good conversation with my seatmates!
I found the above cup while shopping in Cannon Beach, my favorite little Oregon beach town (and a must-stop on this 20-stop Oregon Coast road trip). It bends to fit into my over-the-shoulder bag quite nicely (plus it makes me laugh). But I also carry another collapsible cup that lies flat and slips into my backpack:
The Sea to Summit cup helped me avoid plastic on a 500-mile walk on the Camino de Santiago in Spain and it continues to help me stay plastic-free during trips to the famous food carts in Portland, Oregon! Cost: $11.95 at Sea to Summit or $19.17 on Amazon.
In 2018, airlines generated about 6.7 million tons of cabin waste. (That reads CABIN not CARBON!) Bringing your own cups and your own cutlery reduces this waste when you travel
I use my Nomader water bottle (pictured above) for both water and coffee, but I will admit that it is a pain to wash my water bottle properly while traveling. So my next eco-friendly travel product purchase is going to be the Stojo Collapsible Coffee Cup.
Many people don’t know that the single-use cups made for coffee and tea are lined with plastic, making the cups nearly impossible to recycle. In fact, less than one percent of those coffee cups are recycled, and they are used for just 10 minutes on average. That is even sadder when coupled with this alarming fact brought to us by the good folks at ecoffeecup:
Half a trillion disposable cups are made each year. That’s 70 disposable cups for every person on the planet.
The above reusable cup comes with a straw, which brings me to the next in our list of eco-friendly travel products.
This reusable straw set by OXO comes with four stainless steel straws, a cleaning brush, and a carrying case. Cost: $12.99 on Amazon.
Most recycling machines cannot accept straws because they are too small. And it takes an estimated 200 years for a plastic straw to break down and decompose.
I carry this bamboo cutlery set when I travel, and I often bring it with me even when I’m not on the road. It comes in handy at festivals, outdoor events, or the famous food carts in my hometown of Portland.
I also bring my own reusable, collapsible plate and bowl to go along with my collapsible cup and reusable cutlery set. Check out the X-Set from Sea to Summit to get a cup, bowl, and plate that all fold flat and tuck nicely into a backpack. $49.95 for the full set.
These handy dandy reusable snack and sandwich bags by Stasher are perfect for your travel days and sunset picnics. I love to stop at a local deli, order a sandwich, and ask them to wrap my food in one of these bags before heading for a picnic in a park. $21.98 on Amazon for a set of two or $11.99 each on EarthHero (use coupon code LENSOFJEN for 10 percent off).
(Pro tip: If the deli or shop has a rule against using outside packaging, just ask them to hand you the sandwich without any wrapping. There is no rule against NO packaging and there is no rule that you can’t wrap your own sandwich.)
According to American Rivers, almost half of the litter in the United States is from food packaging. Much of that litter from juice boxes, snack packaging, and sandwich bags end up in our waterways.
This compact, reusable bag is another item that I carry with me almost everywhere. It folds up and fits in a purse or back pocket, and it can be used for groceries, laundry, or even your single-use recyclable items that you collect on an airplane. I’ve had my BeeGreen reusable bags for years now, so they are durable, too! Cost: $13.99 for a set of five on Amazon.
(Side note: because airlines are dealing with different recycling systems in different cities or even countries a lot of your recyclable items from an airplane are not recycled. If I do end up using any of the single-use items on a plane, I take those items with me to recycle. I usually take my seatmates’ items, too!
Each time you use a reusable bag instead of a single-use plastic bag, you have reduced the need for more bags. That small decision is a huge achievement when you consider that 100 billion plastic bags are used every year.
I live by my packing cubes. They may just be my favorite item in my suitcase or backpack any time I pack. But back when I bought them I didn’t know there was an eco-friendly alternative.
The first step to sustainability is to reuse what you have as much as possible, so I’m keeping my regular old packing cubes and considering myself in packing envy of anyone who has packing cubes made from recycled water bottles, like the Quest Travel Cubes made by tentree.
For $31 you can get three cubes. Plus tentree plants 10 trees for every purchase!
Or try Patagonia’s clamshell packing cubes made from 100 percent recycled fabric and seriously durable.
Each cube ranges in price from $29-$49 depending on size.
I first used this towel when I walked the Camino de Santiago. It fit easily into my backpack and dried very quickly. Usually, it would dry so quickly that I didn’t need to hang it from my backpack to dry while hiking, but it’s convenient, built-in loops make it very easy to hang from your pack while on the move.
It started with the Camino, but now the Rainleaf microfiber towel is one of the eco-friendly travel products I cannot live without. It reduces my environmental impact if I stay in a hotel since many hotels needlessly wash your towels every day (even when you hang them up!)
Also, it’s convenient to have in your bag. I sit on it for the above-mentioned picnics or use it for a quick dip while on a hike. Cost $9.99 on Amazon for a medium towel:
Speaking of reducing your impact at hotels, avoid using the toiletries that they leave out for you. Try instead:
I’m absolutely loving Raw Elements sunscreen. It is reef-safe, cruelty-free, and packaged without plastic. It also holds a spot on the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Sunscreens. Cost $16.99 on Amazon for the 30-SPF face and body sunscreen. Same price for the 30-SPF Raw Elements tinted moisturizer.
My friend Francesca at Littlelosttravel.com has a great post on 11 top zero-waste sunscreens that protect your skin AND the planet.
I’m in the market for an eco-friendly alternative to laundry while on the road. I’ve heard great things about the Scrubba Wash Bag paired with an eco-friendly detergent like the BerryPLUS eco-friendly, natural detergent.
I am also going to try safety razors with bamboo handles and plant-based shaving cream. (TerraCycle® and Gillette® have partnered to make razors recyclable in the United States.)
Look, it’s not the easiest or the cheapest decision to travel – and live – sustainably. But it is the most responsible decision for the planet. Thank you for caring for our Earth.
I will continue to update this post as I find new eco-friendly travel products that work!
You might also like my 10 Tips for Avoiding Plastic Water Bottles While Traveling. Click here to return to my resource section on sustainable living. Or to learn about sustainable travel, visit here. And please don’t forget to subscribe!