Eco-friendly Packing for Your Summer Vacation

By John Rose, May 20, 2015, Green

Summer is upon us and vacation season is rapidly approaching. There are so many ways I could discuss how to green your vacation (and I don’t mean spending the green, I mean does anyone actually need help with SPENDING money?), but I will address the one I truly dread: packing!  I confess, I am not the best packer. I can justify taking 5 pairs of trousers for a 5-day trip, because you should be prepared for every possibility! However, by over packing I am breaking the number one cardinal rule for green packing; pack light because the more luggage you have, the more energy is needed to transport it to your location.

The last few trips we have taken as a family, I have made a concerted effort to pare down my contribution to our luggage. The key to this is to be ORGANIZED. The last-minute packer will nearly always over-pack in a last-ditch effort to not forget anything. This strategy almost always fails and you might end up with 10 pairs of shoes and no underwear. Make a list, start assembling key items early, and reassess your needs more than once. It is human nature to over-prepare initially and become more realistic with time.

Most of us get excited in the lead up to a vacation. This can cause us to splash out and buy things with the ultimate justification: it’s for my trip. It’s amazing how quickly the purchased pile can stack up and even more amazing how much of it we didn’t need to buy before we left. Those travel sized shampoos and toothpastes can seem awfully tempting but they are really all packaging and no product. Invest in easily refillable, washable, TSA approved containers for all your toiletries. Not only can these be used again and again, you can also then always take your favorite products with you.

When traveling we typically produce more trash than we would at home, those bottles of water add up especially since finding recycling facilities is not always a simple task when in a new environment or on the road. Think ahead and pack key items that will help reduce your impact while away – a reusable water bottle is not only green, but it will also save you money (the cost of all those beverages adds up quickly). If you are flying to your destination, just make sure your bottle is empty as you pass through security and then you can fill it at the water fountain by the gate.  Another thing to consider would be a reusable shopping bag that packs down small to be kept in a purse or even a pocket. Plastic bags are a huge problem for wildlife and their usage is unnecessary if you come prepared.

So I challenge you to pack a little less this summer and reuse a little more, but most of all I wish you a fabulous vacation, wherever you might go.

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