Holidays slow the pace of life. I know - I've just had two.
There's a saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." And that's what many of us want to do when we travel. Discovering new places, living like a local and trying all the new foods are things I love too. It's like you can live any way you want for a few days and, when you come back, you'll be fresher for it.
Except, there is that underlying worry... If you've started to be more conscious about waste and plastic in particular, you might look at past holidays and cringe.
From polystyrene plates to the cashier who gives out a plastic bag per grocery item, holidays can get very wasteful if you don't prepare ahead! And that plastic from all those past holidays is probably sitting around somewhere to this day. National Geographic tells us that 91% of the world's plastic isn't recycled - and it's even harder to recycle when you're away from home.
If sustainable living means something to you, you'll know you can make positive changes on holiday, just like you have at home. Forget the guilt, just pack your values in your suitcase and take along some handy items that will help.
Here are five tips we've discovered to minimise waste when you're on the move:
1. Bring your bottle
Happily the days when you needed to buy a plastic water bottle just to drink in airports are dying out. Many UK and US airports now have drinking fountains to fill up your water. Can't find one? Ask a cafe. In the UK they're legally obliged to give you tap water, though that's not always the case abroad. No other options? If tap water is safe in the country, the hot water is fine. Just fill up the bottle and let it cool. Not great, but we've done it countless times and it hasn't done us any harm.
Once you're there, the good news is that many European cities are better on having drinking fountains than the UK, so you can refill your water bottle as you go through the day. Is tap water not drinkable in the country? Don't be like most travellers and buy multiple bottles a day. Where you can in your hostel or hotel, boil the tap water and let it cool in your bottle overnight. Then you're ready for the day. I learnt this tip from my Peruvian grandparents who have boiling water in their kitchen down to a fine art!
2. Pack solid shampoo and conditioner
On a trip to Milan last year, the train doors closed on my bag inside and both chugged away, never to be seen again... Now I wouldn't wish this on you, but one thing I discovered then was one charitable friend's fantastic solid shampoo and conditioner bars! Hers were from Lush, but plenty of small businesses do them too.
These have the advantage of really reducing packaging - all you need is a tin to keep them in. They're also convenient because you don't need to take solid shampoos out at security for the flight.
3. Take a tin, a tupperware or a beeswax wrap.
Just something to store food in. That way you can bring a packed lunch for the flight, pack snacks for the day with local groceries and, when faced with that polystyrene plate from a street vendor, you can ask them to serve the food in your container.
I say tupperware too because if, like me, plastic containers still fill your cupboards from unenlightened days, better to use them for all they're worth - seeing as the material doesn't biodegrade.
If you have beeswax wraps though, they're probably ideal for holidays as they pack flat. We're featuring a beeswax wrap in our boxes this July, made by a local Cardiff business Tabitha Eve Co.
4. Slap on sun cream from a tin
Natural sun creams are good in multiple ways. First they're good for your body because they don't contain harsh chemicals - just remember to apply these more regularly than everyday sun cream!
Second, did you know that the average sun cream contains microplastics? That's the shiny ooze you might see when you step into the sea to bathe. And microplastics are known to harm small sea creatures and travel further up the food chain. Choosing a natural sun cream is the easiest way to avoid this.
And lastly, this sun cream by Shade is the first we've seen to come in a tin. It smells really good too. Maybe we'll ask them about including one in your box next summer...
5. Have your ice cream in a cone
And without the plastic spoon! Honestly you can't get better than edible packaging.
If you want to go a bit further, try out vegan ice cream if there's a parlour in the city. Avoiding dairy reduces your impact on the Earth even further. While not vegan myself, I could swear vegan ice cream tastes even better than the normal stuff! I was munching my way through basil and pine nut flavours in Vienna this week - sweet pesto anyone?
I hope you find these tips useful for your holiday. Being abroad can also have upsides for your sustainable lifestyle. After travelling a bit, I'm pretty sure that fruit comes with less packaging outside the UK - our supermarkets take note? Go to places like Cuba and you'll find that the average shop is a 'zero-waste' shop. There's always more to learn.
Above all though, enjoy your time away while it lasts and be open to new experiences. Then come back refreshed for September and ready to make more positive changes at home.
What tips would you give to reduce waste on holiday?