​​How to reduce plastic pollution while travelling and why it is important

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Picking up plastic bottles to recycle - sustainable tourism practices
Picking up plastic bottles to recycle.

Two news articles shocked the world early this year; a pilot whale found with 80 kg of plastics and a sperm whale with 30 kg of plastic in its stomach. It brought to light the effect of plastics on the environment. This article brings to light the effect of plastic on the environment and ways to reduce plastic pollution while travelling. You can’t get rid of plastics that easily. It stays for around 1000 years before it disintegrates.

We teach our children to keep their rooms clean but we don’t follow the same when it comes to Earth, our home. The trail of plastic we leave when travelling is alarming.

Dead turtle among plastic garbage from ocean on the beach, plastic pollution while travelling
Dead turtle among plastic garbage from the ocean on the beach

When plastic disintegrates into microparticles, they end up in marine beings and also animals and birds. Improper disposal of plastics has ended up in floating garbage patches in the ocean. The one in the Pacific is larger than the size of France, Spain and Belgium combined. The patch contains around 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic. There are five such floating garbage patches around the world. One important point to note is that there is no 100% recycling. The truth is recycling comes with waste byproducts which are again let into the water sources.

Reduce your plastic footprint while you travel:

While travel gives you a break from the monotonous life, we need to curtail the plastic pollution while travelling. The prominent impact on our fragile ecosystems is from the littering of plastic bags, bottles, and straws all of which have easy alternatives. You can travel completely green or at least do what trekkers do; don’t leave anything on the way; bring back everything. Travelling green is very easy; you need to travel smart. Few adaptable plastic pollution travel solutions are listed below;

plastic pollution while travelling, Young Woman Respects The Environment By Recycling Garbage During Her Sport Activities

  1. Bring your own cloth bags instead of plastic bags. Carry at least two bags to hold your shopping.
  2. Instead of plastic straws, you can take your own eco-friendly, reusable options like bamboo straws or steel straws.
  3. With the availability of water filtration bottles and life straws, there is no excuse to buy single-use water bottle wherever you go.
  4. Buy one of those beautiful sets of bamboo or stainless steel cutlery and refuse plastic cutlery wherever you can.
  5. Next time you travel, take your own toiletries and leave the stuff provided by the hotel. Those teeny tiny bottles may not seem much but it is definitely a start.
What is your contribution?

A girl picking up a plastic bottle; plastic pollution while travelling

When you first visit a country make sure you empower yourselves with the knowledge of their recycling programs and eco-friendly options available. Do not litter; instead bring it back and dispose of it at your hotel. Also, learn how to dispose of garbage properly. Many countries have laws on the garbage disposal. If you like to contribute to reducing plastic pollution while travelling you can form your own 10 Pieces Movement. Form a group and pick 10 pieces of plastic per person wherever you travel and dispose of them properly. These steps may be a drop in the ocean but it is something.

Waste Segregation around the World
A Kid Separating Recyclable Trash, plastic pollution while travelling
A Kid Separating Recyclable Trash

Without proper waste disposal, countries generally find themselves in problems when it goes out of control. An example is a flood in Bangladesh which was attributed to the plastic waste blocking the water draining from the storm channels. Bangladesh became the first country to ban plastic bags in 2002 and set an example for the world to follow. But many countries in Asia don’t follow appropriate waste management and it is something that is regularly ignored. Instead of falling in line with the residents, you can be an eco-friendly traveller and follow the plastic pollution travel solutions. You can also volunteer to bring social change and education to the people in these areas.

The situation is very different in Europe. The countries that come under Europe Union have stricter laws governing waste management. Travellers to European countries better equip themselves with how to dispose of garbage properly and check the local laws before travelling.

Refuse single-use plastic and go for eco-friendly options in order to give food to the wanderer inside you. Be better informed and motivated. The smallest of the actions make a huge difference.

Did you like reading How to reduce Plastic pollution while Travelling? Read more stories about sustainable travel here.

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