A Consultants Guide on How to Eliminate Waste While Traveling — Lauren Whitlatch

As a Communications Sector consultant that is working towards mastering her weekly Monday — Thursday travel schedule, I constantly find myself asking other team members for time efficient tips and tricks that make their life eco-friendly and sustainable. Traveling for work can oftentimes mean food, toiletries and other travel items are disposable resulting in weekly plastic usage being more than the average individual. I found myself buying small salads and wraps at Trader Joe’s that are contained in plastic containers and food wrap. Additionally, the local salad option on-site often comes with way too many napkins, massive paper bags and plastic forks / knives that are thrown away after one use.

This week, I wanted to provide an eco-friendly approach that allows you to realistically take action while traveling and progressively change your lifestyle. In order to eliminate plastic usage, see below a few “life hacks” that allow for an eco-friendly and reusable lifestyle. Making one or two small changes weekly can make a monumental difference in the long run.

Pack-It Lunch Boxes

  • My favorite insulated lunch box that lasts during a long travel day can be found here: https://packit.com/
  • Pack it was created with sustainability in mind. This company vows to do more with less and lessen the environment impact through thoughtful design. This brand allows each user to eliminate the need for wasteful single-use products while on the go.
  • Although the perks of free breakfast at the hotel is nice, many additional meals are bought on the run during the week. Oftentimes it can be refreshing to pack healthy, flavorful and easy snacks or meals from home. Instead of constantly buying airport food, bringing a lunch box with an insulated interior is an easy alternative.
  • These lunchboxes can be used weekly and I’ve found myself packing food such as quinoa tacos, yogurt packs (under 3 oz.), buddha bowls, avocado toast, peanut butter energy bites, frozen white chili soup, chickpea salads and much more! This food travels well and can stay for the week as long as you have a refrigerator in your hotel room.
  • Furthermore, large Mason Jars effectively store these items and they are hassle free when going through security! No plastic wrap is wasted and your favorite snack is readily available on-the-go.

Additionally, you can find great reusable plastic bags for your lunch box here:

Reusable Bowls

  • Once arriving on-site, I’ve found plastic is thrown away with each meal consumed. Storing a reusable bowl on client site can reduce a large amount of waste each week.
  • I recently bought a re-usable salad bowl from ‘Just Salad’ for $1. Just Salad’s reusable bowl program is the world’s largest reusable program. Their program helps save 75,000+ lbs of plastic every year! This bowl allows you to get a free toping with each use as well. It also is a great size and can help with portion control when making your own creation. Did I mention it is only $1 at check out? You can’t beat that price!
  • Their mission story can be found here: https://www.justsalad.com/our-story

Metal Straws

  • Although I am passionate about re-using and eliminating plastic waste, I admit that I cannot stand to use a paper straw as they break soon after opening. If this issue does not bother you, the more power to you! Embrace those paper straws and sip to your delight! Personally, instead of using these straws, I typically opt to a) not use a straw at all or b) use a metal straw. I promise you these will DEFINITELY not deteriorate.
  • It may be beneficial to buy a pack of metal straws for multiple uses. If you keep one at your desk or in your suitcase, you’re set for the week while traveling.

Check out the link below for a few affordable options:

Insulated Coffee Mugs

  • One of my favorite products is my MiiR coffee mug. It sits on my desk on client-site and keeps my coffee warm (or cold) until after lunch. The size is perfect for the daily morning cup of joe and it’s easily rinsible if I need an additional pick me up in the afternoon. With multiple styles and sizes to choose from, it’s a perfect option that I guarantee you will use weekly.
  • MiiR is involved in the Product to Project Program. Every product sold helps fund a trackable giving project. A portion of the revenue for each product sold is earmarked for their giving initiatives.
  • Each cup comes with a giving code that is found on the bottom of the mug. In order to learn more about the charity your purchase is funding, you can enter the code found on your mug in their website and learn more about the designated program.
  • Their mission can be found here:https://www.miir.com/pages/giving

While all these options are a great start to sustainability, there is always so much more we can do to eliminate waste while traveling. I am the first to admit that I still buy the salads, smoothies and bowls that are wrapped in plastic products. My hope is to change this lifestyle slowly. Packing a few meals eliminates the need for one to two plastic products weekly.

Supporting sustainable and biodegradable products can help slowly shift the food industry to a more self-sufficient area with limited waste. I encourage you to start small but think big! Making a change starts with yourself and it is clear that eliminating these harmful products while traveling will make it much easier when trying to do so in your household. What are your favorite tips and tricks to living an eco-friendly lifestyle while traveling?