Waste, reuse and pollution

At home most of us take for granted that we can reduce waste and pollution, reuse things or recycle our waste. We have the option of buying ‘sustainably sourced’ or ‘eco-friendly’. We have a system of getting rid our rubbish or sewage in a safe way.

Not everyone is that lucky. In places that have no such infrastructure or awareness of the harm to people, animals and the environment, rubbish is often dumped anywhere, oil and chemicals poured into streets and rivers, and raw sewage dumped anywhere.

How to reduce your waste and cut pollution

These are my 3 small changes to help reduce your environmental footprint when travelling:

1. Avoid single-use plastic
Have a reusable bag with you for shopping and groceries and turn down the offer of plastic bags. Avoid plastic straws by taking your own bamboo or steel one with you. Take it one step further and take a bamboo cutlery set with you! Plastics are literally choking our planet and wildlife, so every small gesture helps.

2. Avoid buying small bottles of water
It’s not always possible to avoid buying water in places where sanitation is poor. But you can cut back by buying larger bottles to refill your day-to-day one or finding local businesses that will refill it for you for a small fee. If you are staying in a place for a long period of time find out how the locals access clean water, you may be able to do the same. For example, I would refill my 6L water bottle at the local village tap – which provided filtered water for all – where available at a fraction of the cost of buying more bottles.

3. Dispose of rubbish responsibly
If there are no bins near you on your daily adventures, take it back to your hotel or hostel. While recycling facilities may not be what we are used to, locals often collect plastic bottles or other items to sell – so reuse, don’t dump, and support locals in one easy step.

By being more socially and environmentally responsible on your travels you’ll get more out of your journey, give something back to the communities you visit, and leave a place as good as or better than you found it for the next traveller.