It’s that time of year again! The holidays mean the joy, togetherness, food, and traditions that we look forward to each winter with friends and family.
The holidays also often mean travel. Whether you’re only traveling near or must travel far, it’s likely you’ll need to spend some time on the road or in the air to see your loved ones.
As you are preparing for your travel plans this year, our frequent traveler team is sharing some ways that you can make eco-friendly and health conscious choices as you make your way to your destination.
Pitch the Plastics
The hurriedness and stress of travel can often be a time when we are tempted to consume a lot of plastics, especially single-use plastics, for the sake of convenience. It’s easy to think when grabbing a water bottle here and using a plastic knife there, that the impact is only very small. However, the reality is that 50 percent of all plastic products made are intended to be used once and then thrown away, and packaging, such as that used in food wrappers, is the largest application of plastic.
The accumulated cost of this has lasting effects, as plastic is not biodegradable and will therefore persist in the environment where it can break down into microplastics. Microplastics are small fragments of plastic debris that have become pervasive in our environment – and even our drinking water! Microplastics are also harmful to aquatic animals.
Researchers don’t yet understand the impact that consuming microplastics might have on humans. However, studies demonstrate that plastics are capable of leaching toxic substances and that plastics can break down in animals’ stomachs. These substances, such as phthalates and BPA, are hormone-disrupting compounds known for their numerous detriments to human health including developmental and reproductive toxicity. This means that it’s possible consuming plastics could be harmful to humans. More research is needed.
Making a conscious effort to reduce our consumption of plastic not only helps the planet, but protects our health as well. By simply packing your bag with a few extra items, you may be surprised how easy it can be to eliminate your need for many single-use plastics!
Have a Healthier Holiday
Reducing your plastic use isn’t the only way to protect your health in transit. Traveling, especially during this time of year, can be taxing on our immune systems. In places like airports, planes, trains, and stations, we’re exposed to more people, which increases our chances of being exposed to a bug. Traveling across time zones can impact our natural circadian rhythms, which can affect our sleep cycles and generally make us feel out of whack.
For many of us, the holidays can be stressful. Traveling, a lot of time with family, last-minute shopping, planning, cooking, and cleaning can feel overwhelming. Though a little short-term stress might be ok for the body, long-term stress can impair our body’s immune system.
Top Tips for Healthy & Sustainable Travel
Our travel tips help you to pack strategically to maintain your healthy habits on the road while also making better choices for the environment. We’ve also included small things you can do to boost your immune system on-the-go.
Here are our top 7 tips for healthier and more eco-friendly travel:
1. Bring your own water bottle, mug, and straw
Why: To reduce your consumption of single-use plastics.
How: Choose glass, stainless steel, ceramic, silicone, bamboo.
- If you find yourself ordering a beverage on the go, you can always skip the plastic lid and/or straw.
MADE SAFE Certified Recommendation: Pura Stainless water bottles
2. Boost your immune system by staying hydrated
Why: Proper hydration can be key in keeping your immune system functioning properly.
How: Maintain an adequate intake of water and other hydrating fluids such as decaffeinated tea.
- The stress of flying can make it easy to forget to drink water, so make sure to drink up during your flight. Plus, saying no to the alcoholic drinks offered in-flight could help too, as they are often dehydrating.
- If the tea you choose is not loose leaf, find brands that do not use plastic in their tea bags such as Traditional Medicinals and Yogi Tea.
3. Pack your own snacks
Why: Not only is packing your snacks in advance an eco-friendly choice, it’s a healthy choice. With snacks at the ready prepared ahead of time in your bag, you’ll be less tempted by unhealthy airport and gas station options.
How: Choose glass or stainless steel containers, reusable beeswax wraps, 100% silicone reusable resealable bags.
- Choose healthy snacks that travel well. Think: nuts, dried fruit, pre-popped stovetop popcorn, kale chips, fresh fruit (like apples or pears that won’t get smashed), and fresh cut veggies that are easy to eat (like carrots and celery).
4. Bring along utensils
Why: To reduce your consumption of single-use plastics.
How: Choose bamboo or stainless steel cutlery.
- A utensil set housed in a small carrying case is a great way to maximize convenience.
- Don’t forget to pack a cloth napkin too! A quick wipe down with the napkin means you don’t need to wash these while on the go!
5. Refill travel-size toiletry bottles
Why: To reduce your consumption of plastics.
How: Choose small containers you already have on hand to reuse or silicone bottles.
- Refill small bottles from your larger bottles at home, as opposed to buying travel-sized toiletry products every time you travel.
MADE SAFE Certified Recommendations: See our certified products page for MADE SAFE certified personal care including shampoo, conditioner, cleansers, and more.
6. Carry your own hand sanitizer or soap, and wash hands frequently
Why: Carrying your own soap or sanitizer can prevent you from having to use the products available in public spaces, which usually contain antimicrobials that are known to be harmful to people and the environment.
How: Shop for alcohol-based sanitizers and hand soaps with nontoxic ingredients.
- Wash your hands frequently, especially if you’re traveling by train or plane.
- While a good old-fashioned hand washing does the trick, hand sanitizer can come in handy for the times when we don’t have access to soap and a sink.
MADE SAFE Certified Recommendations:
7. Find time to de-stress
Why: De-stressing allows more time for enjoyment and relaxation – and its good for your health.
How: Get adequate rest, make time for relaxation, and exercise when you can.
- Thirty minutes of exercise is usually enough to diffuse stress. Hit a yoga class with a family member or take a brisk walk with a friend (or dog) to weave together movement and time with loved ones.
- Deep breathing is a great way to de-stress. Try this: Inhale for four counts and then exhale for four counts. Repeat this a few times and then check in with yourself: does that feel comfortable? If not, continue inhaling for four and exhaling for four counts for a few more rounds. If it does feel comfortable or becomes comfortable after a few more rounds, extend the exhale by one or two counts, breathing in for four and exhaling for 5 or 6 counts. Continue for a minute or two, or even longer if you like. Breathing with an extended exhalation can promote relaxation.