Blog,  Travel

Zero Waste Travel: 8 Tips for Airports and Flying

You might have seen that I just traveled to Florida to see one of my best friends who I hadn’t seen in almost a year and a half! When the opportunity arose to visit her and celebrate May the Fourth, I booked my ticket.

I traveled a ton last year when I lived and taught English in Spain. Yet, I traveled mostly by public transportation. Europe has some stellar train and bus services. But the US sadly doesn’t have the infrastructure.

Traveling less is the ultimate goal but I find it hard to balance living green and travel. Because I think traveling is so important!

If you can drive or take public transportation, that should be your number one choice. But it’s not always practical. My family and friends live all over the US and driving just won’t cut it. And not seeing them is also not an option in my book. So I’ve come up with some tips for traveling eco-friendly by air.

8 tips for zero waste air travel

1. Bring a reusable water bottle

This one is probably the easiest the follow. I always bring a reusable water bottle with me wherever I go and traveling is no different! Make sure to go through security with it empty and then refill it after going through security. Many airports have bottle-filling station now which is amazing! If the taste of tap water might bother you, consider bringing a water bottle with a built-in filter.

2. Pack snacks and food

This one is a bit tricker, but planning ahead can help. If you have to buy food at the terminal (long layovers or the need for a full meal) try to eat at a restaurant. Or if getting it to go, get it wrapped in paper or put in your own container which can then be composted later.

Remember, that all carry-on liquids have to be under three ounces (or 100ml) so if packing meals, think of something without sauce or dressing. Sandwiches, sushi, or grain salads are all good bets. Avoid things like soup, salsa, and spreads.

I always pack a ton of snacks! My go-to snacks are nuts, dried fruit, granola bars, and chocolate. I have a crazy sweet tooth! Even fresh fruit is allowed through security. Although I’ve had some experience with squished fruit… Better stick with apples and other denser fruits.

3. Bring your own!

Pack everything that will help you avoid single-use plastic. I always bring my bamboo utensil kit, glass or bamboo straw, and a tote bag. If planning on buying food, consider bringing a cloth bulk bag. I also bring most of the things in my zero waste to go kit.

4. Pack light

I am quite the skilled packer if I do say so myself. I’m the queen of packing light. My first time to Europe, I fit three weeks worth of clothing in a carry on suitcase.

Logistically, the lighter you pack the less the plane has to carry and the less fuel used. Now, this seems a bit inconsequential. But if everyone packed light, then it really would make a difference to the amount of fuel used. Plus, packing light is less of a hassle in my experience.

5. Offset your carbon emissions and fly green

There are lots of organizations that you can donate to offset the emissions produced by your travel. I have even seen some airlines offer a “green” flying option where you can add the carbon offset to the price of your ticket. There are plenty of organizations out there where you can donate. Here are just a few: reduce what you can, offset what you can’t calculate and compensate your emissions to protect the climate carbon offsets to alleviate poverty a public benefit corporation

6. Download a digital boarding pass

This is convenient now with all the apps out there to help organize your travel tickets. Simply scan the barcode at security and before boarding. It’s easy to avoid a paper boarding pass.

7. Pack eco-friendly beauty products

This one is close to my heart as I love to talk about eco-beauty here on the blog. Packing your toiletries helps you refuse plastic samples in hotels. I’ll be posting my eco-friendly toiletries bag soon. But bar soap, zero waste shampoo/conditioner, sustainable makeup, dental tabs, dental lace, and a clear bag to store it all in.

8. Eco-friendly entertainment

We all have phones nowadays so staying occupied on the go is much easier. I always bring a second hand or a library book with me. Did you know most libraries have free audiobook and ebook apps? Just another way to get some free entertainment.

Overall, taking fewer flights is the best. Think of opting to stay longer in a location as opposed to flying to multiple locations in the same amount of time. I just love to travel but the impact it has on the environment is not ideal. Do you travel often? How do you stay sustainable at airports?

Happy Traveling-


  • Mary Drover

    This is such an interesting post! I am a big fan of driving everywhere possible, and my first flight in over a decade is actually coming up this July, so I’m going to keep these tips in mind!

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