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26 February 2017

22 ECO + ETHICAL TRAVEL ESSENTIALS for long haul flights

Over the miles and years, I've taken my fair share of long haul flights, and since embarking on my journey into eco and ethical living, I've discovered how unsustainable and wasteful most of the products I relied on are. On my most recent trip to Costa Rica and Texas, I noticed while packing that I've finally reached a point on my gallop towards greener living where the products I use and habits I've developed for travelling have nearly morphed to match my morals of mindfulness. The items I've gathered in the images above and links below are items I use, or will replace what I have with when the time comes for my worn or wearing out items to be recycled or composted onto their next life. Most of these are simple sustainable switches which allow you (and me) to adjust items we all eagerly engage with to a kinder, greener option which is better for you, the planet and her inhabitants, so we might enjoy your journey guilt free and with glee. 

[1] HOUSE OF MARLEY Headphones
I’ve got a low level of patience for the sounds of others in small spaces so to ensure my love of humanity lives on, headphones are essential. My husfriend and I both have a pair of House Of Marley headphones. They’re made from sustainable materials and FSC certified woods. To top all that goodness off your purchases support the 1LOVE foundation which is dedicated to giving back to charities that empower individuals to take action for sustainable and responsible living. 

This tote fits everything pictured here perfectly, and looks damn good while doing it. It’s ecologically and ethically made, and strong enough to tote your computer and all ones zero waste products in. You can read more about my love affair with this bag HERE.

Rather than using and disposing of the paper tags made by your airline, get yourself a luggage tag for life. I’ve had the same luggage tag since I was 18 and it is still going strong. I’ve replaced (and recycled) the inner info paper (using the back of an old bill or card) over the years when I’ve moved country, address, or changed telephone number, but the outer case has remained the same. 

I always travel with two Klean Kanteens, one 20oz for water, and I replace the lid for a Café cap on my 12oz and use it for hot drinks so I can reduce the amount of waste I produce on the move, and stay hydrated and refill (sans BPAs,), keeping my hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold for my entire journey. Conventional to-go coffee cups, like the ones from Starbucks, or the ones we get on planes, take nearly 50 years to biodegrade and can’t be recycled due to the polyurethane lining (read more about the eco + ethical issues of conventional coffee cups HERE). When it comes to plastic water bottles, on top of the health issues from storing things in plastic, and the fact we’re paying 2,900 times the price for water which comes from the same source as our taps. My main issue with plastic water bottles is that it takes 17 million barrels of oil to produce 30 billion water bottles, it also takes more water to produce a bottle of water than the bottle itself will hold. Plus, the plastics the bottle is made of, like all plastics, will never decompose (you can read more about the eco + ethical issues of water bottles HERE)

An 8+hr flight is the perfect place to get yourself some nasty breath. I always travel with a toothbrush to regularly refresh. We’ve been using bamboo toothbrushes for over a year (find out why I brush with bamboo HERE) and love them, I’ve tried a bunch of different brands and all of them are great. Best thing about them is they’re biodegradable so you can compost them, returning them to the earth from which they spring, when their brush job’s done. We make our own toothpaste (it’s super easy, you can watch the DIYl HERE) which we bring along with us in a little glass container.

I normally wouldn’t recommend buying anything from Free People due to their questionable ethical practices (read more HERE); however, the one positive thing I can say about the brand is that they partner (hopefully fairly) with some conscious budding brands to sell their ecological, ethical and vegan creations to a wider audience, thus helping the brand flower. Soul Sunday is one of these brands, and they create ethically handcrafted products in LA and this partnership balm with Free People is made without Beeswax, which means it is vegan-friendly as well as being eco and ethical. The packaging is biodegradable and this balm can be used on the lips or face which is a convenient double wammy! Conventional lip balm is made out of petroleum and thus, is to be avoided (you can read more about the eco and ethical issues of lip balm HERE), but Soul Sunday the green boxes and comes in biodegradable packaging taboot.

I don’t wear makeup on planes as it just ends up under my eyes, but I like to bring this lovely little treat with me to freshen my face up at the end of a long journey. You can put it on your cheeks and lips making you look like you’ve got your act together, even when you’re jet lagged and delirious.

To reduce waste, I’ve started carrying my own eye mask (the ones you receive for free on flights are thrown out after and is wrapped in earth harming plastic). These Earthen Warrior masks are handmade with upcycled fabrics in New York. You can read more about these marvellous masks and the lovely lady who makes them HERE.

Since learning the truth about tea (you can read my alarming discoveries HERE), I’ve had the heebie jeebies about conventional tea. Even without this new found knowledge, let’s face it: plane tea is plain tea. So, I’ve started travelling with a random array of tea bags, so I might enjoy organic, fair trade tea, rather than a cup full of pesticides on my air bound journeys. Numi is a beautiful brand and sells an array of my favourites in one box, the perfect size for travel.

On our latest 21 Day Trip (HERE), I needed a brake from informational literature and got hooked on Paulo Coelho. A long time ago I created a ‘book shop’ on amazon where you can find some of my favourite reads, which you can buy for your kindle (which is greener) or in print. Would love to hear some recommendations, fiction or otherwise in the comments below if you have any!

Coconut oil can do anything, it acts as a moisturizer, makeup remover, oil puller, teeth whitener, hair repairer ... the list goes on. I normally just put some coconut oil from our vat at home into a reusale travel sized glass jar, but this brand's USDA Organic, Fair Trade Certified, Cold-pressed coconut oil does the trick if you forget, or in my case, run out on a long-haul trip. 

During a week-long Zero Waste challenge I did with a few members from Ethical Writers Coalition, I was traveling between France, Spain and England by plane. The goal was to make little to no garbage from our daily happenings and I quickly discovered how much waste I create just feeding myself while travelling. Since then, I’ve started carrying a Klean Kanteen food container with me, my husfriend or I will make some pasta or soup to carry in it which will tide us over until a larger sit down meal can be had.

Veja has long been my sneaker of choice, but they found an even bigger place in my heart when they released their new collection of vegan sneakers which are not only eco friendly and ethically made, but also damn comfortable. For our recent 21 days away I rocked these for every travel day.
 SHOP NOW (vegan version HERE)

I almost abuse this quote as I think it is the perfect explanation as to why we ought to avoid using paper products. It’s from a TED talk by William McDonough and it’s as clever as can be: "if you look at a tree and think of it as a design assignment, it would be like asking you to make something that makes oxygen, sequesters carbon, fixes nitrogen, distills water, provides habitat for hundreds of species, accrues solar energy's fuels, makes complex sugars and food, changes colours with the seasons, creates microclimates, and self-replicates ... but by all means ... lets cut it down so we can write on it". For this reason, I carry a handkerchief on my at all times and wash it at the end of the day (if it’s been used) for all things, including flights. I love these clever, custom, hand embroidered ones from Wrenbirdarts.

I’m not a fan of neck pillows or being cold, and big ole cosy scarves fill both needs splendidly. These peace treaty scarves are made from super soft alpaca, which is arguably the most eco-friendly and animal friendly fibre out there (you can read my thoughts on Alpaca HERE). Peace Treaty’s scarves are ethically made by a women’s knitting cooperative that employs artisans from Aymara and Quechua indigenous groups in Peru and Bolivia.

The biggest environmental impact of disposables happens before you buy the product in its creation, but unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. Typically, disposable cutlery is made from a type of plastic known as polystyrene 1, more commonly known as Styrofoam, a product which is difficult to recycle. In fact, even if you are thoughtful enough to put it in the recycling bin, it will most likely end up in the landfill anyways as most municipalities don’t offer Styrofoam recycling (read more about the eco and ethical issues with disposable cutlery HERE). For this reason, whether travelling or wandering through everyday life, I carry a spork (they’re super compact).

Not that one needs a passport holder, but I find it easier, as my husfriend and I travel together and both carry blue coloured passports (I’m Canadian, he’s American) to keep mine in a separately coloured sleeve. I’ve had my passport holder since I was 18 ish and it seems, considering it will probably last a lifetime, to be a pretty good investment.

A little friendly self-promotion here, I recently launched a limited-edition collection of ethically handmade computer sleeves. Each one is custom made to order with repurposed vintage batik fabric, organic YKK zippers / deadstock zipper, and lined with two layers of Eco-fi Kunin felt. They’re made to order, so you can get one custom made for your computer or tablet and choose the zupper and lining colour as well. The one I have for my MacBook Air fits perfectly into my Trunk Collective bag.

Most luggage is made from oil derived fabrics which won't biodegrade and produced in unsafe working conditions by workers who are unfairly paid. I wrote a post on the issues with conventional luggage a few months back HERE, along with some brands which provide solutions. At the top of the carry-on game is Patagonia, whose creations are not only made with 9.25-oz 940-denier nylon CORDURA® Ballistic with a polyurethane coating and lined with 200-denier 100% polyester. Both fabrics have a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. Patagonia promotes fair labor practices, safe working conditions and environmental responsibility throughout their supply chain. 

I recycled my last plastic phone charger a few months ago after it stopped working through a combination of fraying and tangling. I decided for travelling and life a fabric wrapped charger would last longer and thus would be the more ecological option.

The voyage travel kit features three travel-size Earth Tu Face skincare essentials and serves as the perfect introduction to the line for the woman on the go. Nourish, hydrate and protect the skin with the all-natural face wash, facial serum and body butter. Earth Tu Face focuses on purely plant-based, sustainable skincare that promotes transparency in the personal care industry. All formulas and packaging are 100% compostable and formulated without toxins, synthetics or fillers and made and packaged in the USA.

I always travel with a pair of fluffy cozy socks to battle the freezing air on the plane. These recycled ones from Thought Clothing (previously Braintree clothing) are made from recycled plastic bottles, perfect for cozying up on the plane (and passing out). I wrote a post in the early parts of my #GoneGreen2016 journey on the eco and ethical issues with socks, if you’re curious to find out more, you can click HERE to read it!