Hello everyone, I’m Meg and I am a part of the Refill team at Refillism! Currently I’m working for six months in Paraguay, so this month’s blog is about my experience with sustainable travel. While preparing to leave, I tried to think about the logistics of what eco-friendly swaps I could feasibly carry out while abroad, and here a few that I came up with!
- Body Wash and Body Soap
If you can, soap bars are such a great substitute for body wash while traveling. You won’t have to worry about liquid items leaking in your luggage, and soap bars can be brought easily through security. If you are going to a place with lots of bugs or mosquitos, using unscented soaps will be less likely to attract them.
On my trip I bought two bars of the aloe and coconut milk soap bar from Refillism. This specific soap is also a great option because if I get sunburnt, it has a natural aloe component! And, of course, bars of soap cut down the plastic that comes with most body wash containers.
- Shampoo and Conditioner
Shampoo can be a hard transition when it comes to being eco-friendly because of how different some of the alternatives are to mainstream shampoo brands. The obvious alternative is buying a shampoo bar, which is basically a soap bar meant for your hair! I bought Refillism’s unscented shampoo bar for this trip as a back-up to my liquid shampoo.
I personally prefer liquid shampoo to the bar, but this swap really depends on the person. For my liquid shampoo, I bought the 16oz plastic disc container and filled it with our unscented shampoo and body wash. This allowed me to tape the lid closed while I travel (which I couldn’t do as easily with a pump top), and I did the same with the unscented conditioner. Luckily, both of these containers can easily be refilled and reused when I return!
- Toothpaste and Toothbrush
Toothpaste tablets, basically a dehydrated version of toothpaste, are one of my favorite sustainable swaps! They look like mints, but all you need to do is pop one in your mouth, chew it up, and brush. Like the soap bar, this is an easy addition to your carry-on bag, and it nixes the use of plastic tubes. I like to mix our peppermint huppy toothpaste tablets with the unpaste tooth tabs, since the latter has fluoride. Paired with my bamboo toothbrush, they are wonderful, low-waste options for travel.
- Laundry sheets
While this swap only applies if you’re going on a longer vacation, it’s one that many people don’t consider! I’m personally traveling for 6 months, and 12 of our unscented laundry sheets covers my entire trip. That’s only $5.76! It saves a trip to the store, and a large container of liquid laundry soap from the landfill. I also loved this option because of how the sheets take up little to no room in my suitcase. At Refillism, we have lavender and fresh linen scented laundry sheets as well if you’re used to your laundry having that “clean” smell!
I think most can agree that natural deodorant is a tricky thing. It takes a lot of time to find the right natural deodorant to work for you, and thankfully Refillism’s organic deodorant has done the trick for me! If you’re worried about making the swap, I recommend using the vegan underarm detox bar while you shower for about two weeks.
Sunscreen is always a must-have during any travel! I bought the sport sunscreen lotion from Refillism for my trip. It can also be refilled, which is perfect! Our sunscreen option is reef-friendly and made from all natural ingredients like rose hip oil and organic green tea (which also repair damaged skin).
Chemical-based sunscreens have ingredients that actually cause skin cancer, while mineral-based sunscreens do not. Our sports sunscreen lotion has a mineral, zinc oxide base that is able to deflect UV rays effectively. If you want to read more about chemical versus mineral sunscreens, this article by Think Dirty is a great resource.
- Bug spray
As a disclaimer, I am working in a part of South America with mosquito-born illnesses, so I also have DEET! While I have to use the stronger bug spray sometimes, when I can opt for a less-chemically enhanced option, I do! Refillism has a refillable, all-natural bug spray option that I brought along with me. This anti-bug spray and mosquito repellent is biodegradable, and won’t harm the environment if you are swimming or playing outdoors.
- Fanny pack
Lastly, it’s hard to get around while traveling if you don’t have a bag with you! I like the ECO AF fanny pack at Refillism because it’s not only trendy, but I can keep valuables in front of me while I walk around town. Wherever you go, pickpocketing is something to be aware of, and that fear is enhanced when you have your passport with you! However, even without valuables, this is a great bag that I would recommend getting for your travels.
A large part of traveling sustainably comes from the prep work you do. Waiting until you arrive at your destination to buy essentials can be really hard if you’re wanting to live low-waste. This is doing things like calculating how many times you wash your clothes in a month, how often you wash your hair, or even how long it takes you to use up a soap bar can be very helpful before going abroad. I hope the items I found in Refillism can also help you in making your future adventures sustainable. Please feel free to leave any tips you have about the topic in the comment section!
F, Nina. Sunscreen Ingredients 101. Think Dirty. https://medium.com/think-dirty/whats-going-on-with-your-sunscreen-ingredients-443e6088e1bb