The following is a guest post by Allie of The Greenists (formerly Allie’s Answers).
While I’m certainly not in the Fake Plastic Fish tier of plastic reduction, I do a pretty decent job limiting the amount of plastic that comes into our home. But on our recent vacation in Washington State, I realized that it’s a lot harder to keep the plastic under control away from home.
I hadn’t flown in about 4 years, and the regulations for carry-on items have changed since the last time I’d been in the air. I knew bringing beverages through the security checkpoint wasn’t allowed, so I figured I couldn’t bring my Kleen Kanteen. I thought about packing it, but worried that a big metal object in my bag might call it out for inspection. I feel a little stupid for leaving it at home, especially since our bags got pulled for inspection anyway, and a friend in Seattle told me she brings her empty Sigg with her through security all the time.
We had a 4 hour layover in Chicago, so for the first time in at least 2 years, I did the unthinkable — I bought bottled water. I am ashamed to admit it, but I felt desperate. I was without a container, didn’t have any plastic-free water options, and felt really dried out. Also, when our campground had an e. coli scare and there wasn’t any potable water, we bought 3 gallon jugs of water. I feel a little less guilty about this because it was a necessity.
At home, we almost never eat out. When we do, we tend to frequent the same couple of restaurants. They don’t serve food on disposables, and we’re aware of that. When we ate at a sit-down restaurant at Pike Place Market on our first night in Seattle, I was appalled when our drinks came in the kind of translucent plastic cups reminiscent of keggers in college. In the two weeks we were gone, I will also cop to two coffee lids, a plastic cup lid & straw, and a couple of cups for beverages on our flights.
Even though I usually don’t use the little plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner in hotels, I indulged when our hotel in Seattle had Aveda products in the room. My shampoo exploded in my suitcase on the flight over, and I was pretty sure there wasn’t enough left for me to make it through the entire trip, so it was probably necessary. Later, when we got bumped from our flight and spent the night in Cincinnati while our bags took a red-eye home, I used the amenities in the hotel the airline put us up in for the night (and they made me itchy, which was my punishment, right?)
So now that I’ve confessed my plastic travel sins, let me tell you what we did well, plastic-wise:
- The bottle from the water I purchased in the airport became my water bottle for the week. Even though I know reusing single use plastic isn’t the best thing for my health, I figured it probably wouldn’t kill me.
- I packed a reusable grocery bag and used it instead of taking plastic bags when we made purchases.
- We made coffee in our Jet Boil at the campground instead of going out for coffee every morning, avoiding a lot of plastic coffee lids.
- We used our titanium sporks instead of taking plastic utensils when we got takeout.
- I packed the plastic amenities bottles and brought them home. I’ll reuse them the next time we travel.
- We collected our plastic waste and stowed it in the backseat of our rental car. When we stopped at a friend’s house at the end of our trip, we dropped the plastic in their recycle bin.
Next time we travel, I’ll bring my Kleen Kanteen, pack my toiletries in a more cushioned area of my suitcase to avoid explosions (I was kind of careless about that), pack a reusable coffee mug, and pass on the airplane courtesy beverages. I’ll also try to be more brave, and ask how food is served before we commit to a restaurant.
Thanks, Allie! If any of you have plastic confessions or experiences to share and would like to guest post, please let me know. I’m happy to have you guys do the work for a change!