You cannot tune into a news channel or social media page these days without being confronted with the dire situation mother earth is in. Global warming, polar bears in distress, islands of garbage floating in the ocean, and the list goes on and on. All of this because of humanity’s greed and negligence. While most of us have decided to turn a blind eye to the issue and bury our heads in the sand, there are, fortunately, still a few of us that go the extra mile not to contribute to the disaster. So, to you good doers, zero-wasters and eco-warriors I say Thank You. This blog post is for you.
The Caribbean sees millions of pounds of garbage being dumped at their dumping sites each year. A big part of this garbage comes from the hotels, resorts and bars and restaurants catering mostly to the very tourists the islands are so dependent on. The sad truth is that most of the Caribbean is not about to cut down on plastic any time soon. Single use plastic is being used here at a record high and it is only getting worse. But the good news is, you can help. Here are 10 products I travel with that help me cut back on waste and be a more responsible and conscious traveler.
Disclosure: I do not recommend or suggest products that I have not personally tried myself or that come highly recommended by others. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Every time you buy through links provided below I earn a small commission.
1. Reusable Water Bottle
Here is something a lot of visitors do not know. The tab water in most Caribbean islands is desalinated water that comes directly from the ocean and this water is often completely safe to drink. The tab water on Aruba for instance is some of the best water I’ve had after Switzerland. Unfortunately everywhere you go and you ask for water, you receive water in a plastic bottle. You can help cut back on plastic by drinking tab water out of your reusable water bottle and stay hydrated while exploring the island of your choice. My favorite has got to be the insulated Bindle bottle cause it comes with a hidden compartment to store our stash of healthy treats while on the go.
2. Shampoo, Soap and Conditioner Bars
Ok, I need to share with you one of my dirty little secrets: I used to collect the little bottles of shampoo and body lotion you find in the hotel bathroom for future travels. My bathroom at home used to be filled with them until I realized that I was actually adding to an already big plastic problem on St. Maarten by bringing yet more plastic from abroad. The solution: Bars! Nowadays you can find shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and soap in convenient solid bars. These bars are not only zero-waste but are also often vegan, cruelty free, natural, environmentally friendly and TSA proof. And the best part is that you can cut a small piece of the bar to travel with if you’re only taking a short trip or take the full bar for longer trips. No more struggling with filling up those travel size containers with the liquid of your choice.
3. Reusable Facial Pads
Another one of my favorite zero-waste products is definitely the reusable facial pad that I use every night to remove my make-up or exfoliate or apply my toner with. No more single use cotton pads. Now I use, hand wash, let dry and reuse the next day. Depending on the pad, you can use each one for a long, long time before having to buy another batch.
4. Zero Waste Deodorants
No longer a product just for earth-caring hippies is the eco-friendly deodorant. We have come a long way since those vinegar and lemon mix days to combat the big BO. Now you can find an array of different eco-friendly deodorants and most even come in zero-waste packaging. Yay for progress. My favorite is home made by a friend on Aruba. Her brand ArubaLife Organics is incredible. Unfortunately because Aruba and many other Caribbean islands are very limited when it comes to online shopping and payments, you can currently only get your hands on her natural and eco-friendly products at the different stores that sell them all over Aruba. But in the meantime you can get this alternative.
5. Solid Toothpaste or Toothpaste Tablets
Here comes the more sustainable and eco- friendly sexy cousins to the common toothpaste in plastic containers. I have been using my solid toothpaste bar for a year and other than the taste which I had to get accustomed to, it not only works well, but I have saved a bundle because of its durability. Another great travel option when it comes to dental hygiene is the toothpaste tablet. These are not only easy to travel with but also super convenient and do not melt if left out in the sun. My favorite brand is Smyle. because of the taste and 100% plastic free packaging. Just pop, crush and brush. And while we’re on the topic, don’t forget to swap your plastic toothbrush for a regular biodegradable toothbrush or my new favorote the Bamboo Electric Brush.
6. Eco-Friendly Safety Razor
Your Caribbean-bound suitcase no doubt will contain a variety of bikinis and swimsuits to choose from for your lazy days on the beach or by the pool. and with your beach days comes of course the shaving rituals to make sure you remain hairless in the areas where it counts the most. An eco-friendly alternative to the disposable plastic razor is the metal razor and my favorite is the rose gold metal razor by Zomchi.
7. Reusable Cocktail Cup
A favorite pastime of both locals and visitors alike is bar hopping and man, are there a lot of beach bars to discover in the Caribbean. Unfortunately most beach bars will serve you your favorite drink in a disposable plastic cup with, wait for it…..a disposable plastic straw. I’ll wait for you to finish gasping in horror. I mean who does that? Of course you have islands where this is now forbidden but most islands, like my beautiful St. Maarten, are tragically behind when it comes to this new and conscious trend. I have resorted to bringing my own so called “rum cup” to the bar so that I can sip guilt-free on my adult beverage of choice. My favorite is this stainless steel wine tumbler by Swig. I particularly love the unique designs available and the fact that they’re dishwasher safe.
8. Period Panties
I bought my first period panty this year and the only thing I regret is not buying this much sooner. Why did I wait until I’m almost in menopause to start using this convenient discovery? My goodness, it’s not even funny how much I save on pads and tampons. Another option is of course the Reusable Menstrual Cup, which I still use when swimming but I found that the period panty just works best for me and it’s so convenient to travel with. I bought my first one at Uniqlo before discovering the Bambodi Absorbent Panty . One period panty lasts me up to 8 hours if I’m having a normal flow. Imagine traveling with this panty on and not having to pack an extra pad or do regular bathroom checks. They are also very comfortable to sleep in.
9. The Reusable Utensil Set
Where would I be without my reusable utensils in a convenient travel pouch? This item is always in my bag and thus I always have a straw, cutlery and even chopsticks handy in case I find myself buying something to eat on the street. Street vendors usually only hand out plastic utensils and my little travel pouch makes it possible for me to say “No, Thank You” to single use plastic cutlery. Check out this bamboo set.
10. Reef Safe Sunscreen
This last item on my must-pack list is no newbie. I’ve been very vocal on the importance of reef safe sunscreen, especially when traveling to the Caribbean. Yet, every time I’m on the beach, I am shocked by how many people still don’t care about our waters. The same people that come here to enjoy snorkeling and diving are the same using trash that ends up killing the very same thing they are here to enjoy. So, please, do me and the underwater world of the Caribbean a favor and bring reef safe sunscreen with you. My absolute preferred brand is the vegan sunscreen that comes in a nice glass jar by ArubaLife Organics but since they do not ship outside of Aruba just yet, my go-to is Sunbaum but I hate that it comes in a plastic container. So, I went and did some research and found Manda Organic Sun Paste. It’s natural, totally safe for reefs and your skin and comes in an eco-friendly packaging too.
And there you have it. My list of 10 must-pack items when traveling to the Caribbean. Have a left something out? If you know of an item I should have include, I would love to hear from you. Leave you suggestion in the comment section below and thank you for caring about the planet as much as I do.