The weekend of November 12 and 13, I traveled to San Francisco to work at our 10th annual Green Festival there. On the way back to Washington, DC, I traveled through my hometown in Kentucky for a family visit, and I’m only just now arriving back home. With the goal of an even more plastic-free life before me for the entire month of November, my ten days of traveling brought me into contact with a series of plastics choices I don’t face in my everyday life.
There’s the “stupid plastics” being pushed on the planes (those tiny plastic drink cups that hardly ever get recycled), plastic in my hotel rooms (plastic-wrapped plastic cups in the bathroom), and all the plastic involved in simply getting through airport security (the quart-sized plastic “liquids” bag filled with all kinds of small-sized plastic personal items). Through it all, it’s my sturdy reusable metal water bottle that saved the most plastic from entering my life.
Carrying it empty through airport security is just fine, and in the San Francisco airport I even saw dedicated water-bottle-filling stations, apart from the water fountains and bathrooms. I had way more refreshing water with me at my seat — at all times — than any of my traveling companions accpeting micro-sized drinks from the flight attendant, and I never had to purchase a bottled beverage during my ten days of travel.
The small plastic bag of personal products is another matter. My too-large (but only half-finished) tube of toothpaste got confiscated, so not only did I waste toothpaste and plastic, but I also had to buy a travel-sized tube at my first destination (also packaged in plastic). I look at my plastic contact lens case, bottle of contact solution, contact cleaner, dental-floss case, deoderant tube, travel toothbrush, and razor blades packaged in plastic, and realize I’ve got lots more steps to take.
I’ve learned about some toothpaste alternatives from commentors on this blog, and I bought a deoderant stone in San Francisco at the Green Festival. So, hooray for next steps, and also I’m curious to hear others’ green-travel tips for going plastic-lite. What next steps can I take to minimize the plastic I tote with me on the road?