As travellers, we have such a profound impact on the places we visit. Whether we realise it or not, the choices we make and the things we buy all affect the planet that we call home. But by making even small changes and product swaps in our lives, we can start to change the world for the better.
As a lover of the great outdoors, sustainable travel and protecting this planet for future generations is important to me. And while, big corporations remain the largest contributors to emissions and waste, I believe as individuals we still have a part to play.
That’s why as I live a life on the road, constantly moving from place to place, I try to leave no trace and respect the environment everywhere I go. A huge part of that is making sure that my backpack and van are filled with eco-friendly products that reduce my use of plastics and harmful chemicals.
In this post, I’m going to share my top eco-friendly travel products that I use daily, as I continue to explore this world as consciously and responsibly as possible. If you’re trying to make better, eco-friendly swaps in your life, check out my sustainable essentials below!
Bamboo toothbrushes are one of the best ways to reduce plastic in your life. They’re made from MOSO bamboo (not the bamboo eaten by pandas!) which is one of the fastest growing plants in the world. And because it’s a natural product, it can be buried or composted at the end of its life.
The Biome bamboo toothbrushes also come in cardboard rather than plastic, so it’s an all round eco-friendly essential.
While toothpaste is a necessary product for our health, there are better options out there than Colgate. I’ve used a few different types of natural toothpastes over the years, but can highly recommend both Redmond Earth Paste and My Magic Mud Charcoal Tooth Powder.
Based on essential oils and natural ingredients, free of fluoride, glycerin, foaming agents and palm oil, these natural toothpastes are better for you and the planet.
I also find the charcoal tooth powder is especially great for hiking, because it’s a much lighter alternative to paste and you can just carry a minimal amount with you as it lasts for a long time.
Imagine the amount of plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles you’ve thrown out into the bin over the years. There’s an estimated 80 billion of them thrown out around the world each year!
Ethique was one of the first companies to jump onto the eco-friendly travel products scene almost 10 years ago. They make a range of beauty bars, but the classic shampoo bars are one of their most popular products. Using plant-based ingredients, being palm oil free and a certified carbon neutral business, they’re an impressive brand.
While it can take some time to get used to using shampoo bars, I highly recommend trying it out. They’re great for travel, because they take up far less space in your toiletries and yet a bar usually lasts more than double what you’d get out of a standard shampoo bottle. It’s a win win!
Reusable Drink Bottle
One of the classic eco-friendly travel products, I never go anywhere without a reusable drink bottle. I have three different sizes that I use daily depending on what I’m doing. I refuse to buy a single use plastic water bottle, so I always make sure I have a drink bottle handy with me always to keep myself hydrated.
In particular, I like to have a stainless steel drink bottle for hiking, because they also double as hot water bottles on cold overnight hikes! Plus, they’re pretty hardy things that can be thrown around in the outdoors without breaking. Klean Kanteen make some of the most reliable and high quality stainless steel drink bottles available.
Reusable Shopping Bag
Similar to a reusable drink bottle, having a reusable shopping bag is equally as important to avoid using single use plastics. Being super versatile, having a canvas tote with you will mean you can pick up the shopping no matter where you are without having to opt for a plastic shopping bag from the supermarkets.
I have three different reusable tote bags for shopping, so even when I do a decent food shop for my van, I know I’ll have enough bags to carry everything back with me. These organic cotton totes are both convenient and pretty, with nice printed patterns and reinforced handles.
Reusable Sandwich Bags
Are you getting my obsession with anything reusable here? But in all seriousness, as a traveller and hiker always on the go, I really try to reuse as much as I can. And reusable sandwich bags or snack bags are super handy to have for any adventure.
I love to carry my own snacks with me, whether that’s a fully packed lunch on a day hike or some trail mix on an overnight hike. I’m constantly on the hunt for great ways to store my snacks and food that are alternatives to single use plastics like Ziploc bags or Glad Wrap.
If you want something similar to Ziplock bags, Full Circle Sandwich Bags are reusable options which are great for lunches. But I’ve recently discovered Stasher Silicone Snack Bags, which come in all different sizes and are perfect for a range of snacks and even dehydrated meals on overnight hikes.
Read next: How to Plan Your Food for Hiking
Being outside all day (and having fair skin!), I always need to have sunscreen in my backpack. I prefer to use natural sunscreen for both the health of my skin and the planet.
Wotnot Sunscreen is palm free, enriched with organic aloe vera, vitamin E, and natural oils. It’s free from titanium dioxide and chemical UV absorbers, making it reef safe and gentle on all skin types.
An Australian made and owned company, it’s one of the better natural sunscreens on the market.
Natural Mosquito Repellent
Along with sunscreen, mosquito repellent is another travel essential that I tried to find a more natural swap. I found this insect repellent from Dindi Naturals (a small, local company to my home town) and I fell in love. I tried and tested it in the Northern Territory when I spent months up there recently, and the DEET-free alternative did the job well.
As an essential oil based repellent, it relies on oils like kunzea and lemon tea tree to keep the mosquitoes away. One of the things I also really like about it is that it actually smells quite nice and doesn’t irritate your skin.
Natural Dish and Laundry Soap
A really nice zero waste soap that is great for travelling and van life. This natural dish and laundry soap is palm oil free, biodegradable, detergent, sulfate and paraben free, and made from plant oils. It’s handy because it can be used for both dishes and clothing, which saves a lot space in the cleaning drawer of my van.
I’ve been using this Melbourne handmade soap for a few months now and it’s a great alternative to plastic bottled detergent. You can either shave some off to add to the washing machine or use it to hand wash your items.
Stainless Steel Spork
Another of my favourite space saving, eco-friendly travel products is reusable cutlery. Of course, for the ultimate save spacing hack, I tend to prefer a spork which has a fork and spoon in the one utensil. This is perfect for hiking and travelling, when you’re also worried about weight.
There’s nothing worse than single use utensils that you get with takeaway meals. So, if you can carry your own cutlery, it makes it much easier to reduce your plastic waste. This stainless steel spork from Green Essentials is strong, lightweight and small enough to carry in your handbag or backpack.