Costa Rica is one of the top tourist attractions in Central America and is sought after by tourists from the US, Canada, and Europe. But as much as that is a boon for the economy, it is also a bane!
Even though Costa Rica is a pioneer of ecotourism, it struggles with plastic pollution. Now if you are someone who loves traveling and wishes to cut down on plastic consumption, this article is for you. While it is not possible to avoid using plastic 100% of the time, it is indeed possible to use less plastic when we travel. And we are here to tell you HOW!
10 Ways to Cut Down Plastic Consumption While Traveling
1. Travel with a reusable water bottle
Have you ever sat down and calculated the amount you spend on those water bottles you buy each time you are thirsty? It’s not just the money, but also the amount of plastic that you end up using for every bottle that you throw away within minutes of opening them. So investing in a reusable water bottle is always a smart move!
Always carry your water bottle on your travels. Refill it at your hotel, the restaurant where you eat, or even at public places where drinking water is available. Most tourist places in Costa Rica have water stations with drinkable water.
2. Pack your own toiletries
While it may be very tempting to pick up those small bottles from the bathroom of the hotel, this only adds to the problem of plastic pollution. Once you open the bottles, the cleaning staff would simply throw them away and replace them with new ones. For the quantity of the product that you get inside, it simply isn’t worth opening the bottle.
Better solution! Simply carry your own toiletries in reusable containers. This way there won’t be any wastage and you will only use what you need.
3. Stop buying ‘travel-size’ products
Travel-size toiletries are major contributors to plastic waste. Think about those shampoo sachets that you use only once. I agree that we have to cut down on weight and space while we are traveling, but let’s be honest – How much does that travel-size toothpaste anyway last? Only a few brushings and you chuck it in the bin.
So not only is it economical to carry big-size toiletries, but it is also good for the environment. You can also buy a travel kit with reusable bottles and containers, and fill them with your own products.
4. Carry your own cutlery
Plastics have become very convenient for us. So much that we can’t imagine a life without them. But there is absolutely no reason why one should use single-use plastic cutlery. 15 minutes of use and they take years to break down. They are a BIG threat to the environment.
Packing your own cutlery like a spoon, fork, and straw is a brilliant way of avoiding single-use plastic. It may seem unnecessary or difficult at first, but soon it will become second nature to you.
5. Say ‘NO’ to plastic straws
Plastic straws are one of the biggest menaces on this planet. Say NO to plastic straws!
How tough can that be? Most of the time we do not even need a straw in our drink. It is just plain a habit to drink every beverage with a straw. But if you REALLY can’t avoid using a straw, ask for a paper straw instead, or even better, carry your own reusable steel straw with you. And yes, don’t forget to tell the server “NO straw please” at the end of your drink order!
6. Carry a reusable mug
In a country like Costa Rica, where coffee is loved by almost everyone, it is pretty common to ask for a ‘coffee to go’. And with that comes plastic packaging. Even if the glass is made of paper, the glass lid and the stirrer are made of plastic. And if you are ordering cold drinks, both the glass and the top are of plastic.
Carrying your own mug that is insulated and keeps your drink hot or cold, will help in cutting down plastic consumption significantly. These days there are many lightweight options for thermos and flask mugs.
7. Buy snacks in bulk
Imagine how much plastic waste you produce each time you buy a small chocolate, a chips packet, or a drink bottle. And if you are traveling with kids, the amount of plastic waste has no bounds.
Though you should try to avoid plastic as much as possible if it’s necessary to buy snacks, buy them in bulk and in bigger packaging. Not only is it good for the environment, but also helps you save money.
8. Carry a shopping bag
Many supermarkets in Costa Rica charge extra for a shopping bag. Therefore, most of us carry our own shopping bags so that we don’t have to pay extra every time we shop. When you can do it at home, why not do the same during your travels?
It’s as simple as packing a tote bag with you on your travels. So you can say NO to a plastic bag every time you stop to buy a snack or drink from a store. In case you forget to pack one, you can opt to carry the items in your hand rather than in a plastic bag.
9. Say NO to food wrapped in plastic
Let’s admit it! Most of the items we buy from supermarkets are packed in plastic. Be it a sandwich, a brownie, or even a fruit, there is a lot of food unnecessarily packed in plastic.
Alternatively, you can directly shop from farmers at a farmer’s market and from local shops that are freshly making food, and do not find a need to wrap food in plastic.
10. Carry your own earphones/headphones
Do you often take flights to your destination? Well, then you must have seen the flight attendants distributing low-quality earphones on long flights. You might have yourself taken many times.
Well, they are problematic. One, they are wrapped in plastic. Two, they are themselves plastic. And, you only sue them once and leave them behind in the airplane. So, why not carry your own headphones the next time you fly? Just remember that flights still have a 3.5 mm jack, and most earphones these days have type C.
Those were some amazing yet simple tips for sustainable and eco-friendly travel! There is a beautiful saying “Leave nothing behind but footprints, take nothing but photographs”!
So come, let’s vow to do everything within our power to reduce plastic consumption and carbon footprint on our travels.