Create an Easy Zero Waste Travel Kit


If you’re conscious about filling landfills when travelling then you might consider creating a Zero Waste Travel Kit. It’s easy, it’s affordable and it can be a space saver if done correctly.

I started using a Zero Waste Travel Kit when I worked in Telecom sales in the 90s. I traveled all over the world back then, and had a hiker’s mentality...only bring with you what you need! So I’d like to share ideas to get you started on your journey.

1. Plastic reusable travel bottles: I’ll grant that plastic reusable travel bottles are not ideal considering their environmental footprint. But I absolutely still use some from 1995, so in that sense, they have been a reasonable compromise. I have also started reusing make up bottles (my preferred makeup brand is MAC), and I’m very pleased with the results; both environmental and cosmetic. My trick…

  • Add your favorite SPF moisturizer to a nearly empty foundation bottle. Shake well and voila! A tinted morning moisturizer.
  • Empty sturdy pressed powder compacts and fill with baby powder or a salt scrub. Make sure they are very sturdy and snap shut. I love MAC’s pressed powder compacts because they are durably made.

2. Ladies only - Aunt Flo gets planet friendly: Not to be too personal, but reusable menstrual cups, period proof panties and other earth friendly products are proliferating in drugstores! If you have the time and ability to wash panties on vacation, THINX is a great solution. My own favorite are reusable menstrual cups. For summer vacations, you can’t beat the swimsuit convenience factor.

3. Reusable Face Wipes: DIY reusable Face Wipes are all the rage on the internet right now, aren’t they!? I have rosacea, so I am very careful to stay out of my pantry for face products. It’s just too risky. My go-to solution for 20 years has been clean inexpensive t-shirts, my favorite face cream (CeraVe or Cetaphil), an angled eyeliner brush, and black eyeshadow.  Let me break that all down...

  • Skip the mascara when you travel. It’s a hassle on the airplane and hard to remove completely. Instead try an Angled Eyeliner Brush with black eyeshadow to brush the eyeshadow into the top lashes from below. Simply sweep the shadow up and into the lashes, darkening them and elongating them. It’s subtle, but it looks good!
  • Also, try moisturizer to remove makeup. The dermatology doctors at UVM Medical Center suggested CeraVe or Cetaphil face products to me for rosacea. They’re inexpensive drug store brands and they’ve been great. Just dab the evening moisturizer on the t-shirt towel and wipe makeup away. Give your face a rinse in warm water, and if necessary apply more moisturizer. Done and gentle too. Simply rinse the t-shirt towel and hang to dry.
  • Baby shampoo that’s safe for eyes can also be used with your reusable face wipes.

4. Keep odors at bay: I bet you’re wondering what I do for underarm deodorant. Deodorant bottles are large and bulky. I also try to limit liquids when flying, so solid deodorant is my go to. Any reusable plastic bottle works here, even an empty prescription bottle. My trick…

  • Scoop solid deodorant into a plastic bottle (a prescription bottle works as long as it closes tightly)
  • Pack a small metal spoon
  • When ready to use, scoop a small bit onto the spoon and using the back of the spoon, smooth it around.
  • Wipe residue off the spoon with your fingers and smooth it on your feet. They stink too sometimes!

5. Label everything: Ok, I learned this the hard way. I never labeled anything thinking I would reuse travel bottles for different products. That was a problem in two ways...First, it’s a hassle to clean out the bottles and some products discolor the plastic. Second, and probably more obvious, I always forgot what was in those bottles. And if I’m being honest, I don’t like my handwriting. So fine, I bought a label maker. My Epson label maker brings me joy. My pantry, my travel kit, every box in my house...they have all printed labels. Organizational happiness and one less thing to remember.

6. Waterproof bags with a sturdy zipper: Something will spill.  It just will. It’ll be slimy or sticky, it will goop up everything else and you’ll see that it’s a mess when you go to use it. Buy a waterproof bag with a sturdy zipper. Granted you have to use quart plastic ziplocks to follow the airlines 3-1-1 rule, but they are a travel disaster waiting to happen too. My trick…

  • I travel with two small waterproof bags, like the T-Greeks Evil Eye(Mati) or Fishies (Psari) waterproof pouch bag on every trip. I keep my ziplock 3-1-1 kit with liquids in the waterproof pouch and pull it out for security. I keep dry items in the other pouch.
  • If I have a travel blow out, I simply turn the pouch inside out, wash it and hang to dry. Crisis averted.
  • I also travel with a waterproof messenger bag for the airplane, where I stash a multiuse light scarf and travel notebook with pen.

These are some of my own personal ideas for a Zero Waste Travel Kit, I would love to hear yours. We’ll add your ideas to our list!  Happy trails!

Are you a beginner traveler looking for advice? Head over to our Travel for Beginners post and learn from Tolmee's very own Kyla and Keely as they gear up for the summer travel season.


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