In search of eco-friendly items that are light in weight, easy to use, and great for travel? Well glad you asked! Here are my latest 6 picks. Take a look for yourself or consider this gift inspiration for the holidays!
#1 REUSABLE STRAWS. Plastic straws may be on their way out, and that is a good thing. We have way too much plastic garbage today in our landfills, our rivers, and, sadly, even in our Earth's oceans. It is killing wildlife everywhere. One good solution is to carry a reusable straw with you. Then you can slurp down your favorite smoothie or iced coffee with the bamboo straw instead of the throw-away plastic straw. Just clean it when you are done, keep it, and reuse it. Simple! A brand called Bambu makes and sells a 6-pack of bamboo straws, and it comes with a thin metal brush for cleaning the insides. Bamboo wood is very sustainable as it grows quickly, requires little water, and does not need fertilizer! While these bamboo straws are ultimately compostable, with good care they will last you a decent while. An eco-friendly and affordable gift item for everyone on your holiday list.
#2 REUSABLE UTENSILS. Here is another alternative to all those single-use plastics when you are on the go! It is a reusable utensil set. How about one that is easy to clean, is made from sustainable bamboo wood AND comes with its own storage case? Awesome! So check out these eco-friendly utensil sets for adults and children from To-Go Ware brand. The adult set includes a pair of bamboo wood chopsticks. They are perfect for travel, camping, kayaking, bicycling, or hiking adventures, a picnic outdoors, or simply to keep at your office desk for use at lunch time. Affordable and rated highly by customers. A thoughtful gift anytime for your friends and maybe for your own family too!
#3 FILTERING WATER BOTTLES. Safe and potable drinking water is a big problem in many countries you might visit, especially in regions like SE Asia or sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of hotels and tour guides in such places offer their customers bottled water. Once used, these bottles will likely end up buried in landfills where they will leech chemicals into the ground slowly over hundreds of years until they are fully decomposed. Millions of tons of these plastic water bottles that do not get recycled go into the ground every year. We can do better.
Whether you are traveling overseas or going hiking or camping near home, a good idea is to bring a reusable water bottle with you, one that is fitted with a filtering straw or similar device. These products remove dangerous bacteria, viruses, and other nasties from the water you pour into your bottle from the room tap or perhaps collected from an outdoor lake or stream. Any non-salt water source. A few minutes later, the water is safe to drink.
The filtering water bottles shown below are made by a company called Sagan Life. They are good for filtering up to 250 gallons of water before the filtering system needs to be replaced. Even better, they are on sale now for 25% off! Check them out!
#4 BIODEGRADABLE SUNSCREEN. Did you know that many popular sun lotions and sunscreen products contain lots of sythetic chemicals and that most are not biodegradable? It is one thing when you take a dip into the pool, which is man-made and full of chemicals itself. It is quite another thing to go swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving in a natural water habitat such as a lagoon or the ocean. Even though these products get absorbed into your skin, a bit remains on the skin surface. Once you are in the water, skin cells containing these chemicals slough off and eventually float downward, coating coral reefs and sea grasses that live on the sea floor, and contributing to die-offs. The marine creatures that depend on coral reefs and sea grasses for food and shelter are also negatively affected.
It is worth your while to learn more about available biodegradable products, preferably those made using only all-natural ingredients, that will protect you against harmful UV sun rays while also protecting marine life from harmful synthetic chemicals. Yes, these products do cost a bit more than the typical store brands because ingredients like organic essential oils do cost more than cheap laboratory made synthetic chemicals. But if you think about it, your body is also absorbing all those synthetic chemicals and fragrances each time you slather on the typical lotion or cream. If you care about personal health, the health of your kids and family, as well as the environment at large, consider a few extra dollars as money well spent.
It is also useful to know before traveling to certain places in the world, like the very popular Xcaret marine park in Mexico, that you will be turned away at the entrance if you do not have a biodegradable product to bring in to the park. They are serious about protecting their beautiful natural coral reefs! If you do come unprepared but still want to buy a ticket and go in, they are only too happy to sell you an acceptable sunscreen product right there - at a jacked-up price of course! Do not say I did not warn you.
So let me introduce you to this brand of biodegradable and reef-safe sunscreens called Stream2Sea. They are based in my home state of Florida in the USA. They sell several products for adults and children in both tinted and non-tinted formulas plus larger bottles for refills. A tube of sunscreen as a stocking stuffer or a wrapped gift this year? Why not?
#5 ECO-FRIENDLY POLARIZED SUNGLASSES. Everyone loves a new pair of polarized sunglasses especially if they are really cute, and these are really cute! Even better, the examples shown below are made with repurposed bamboo and recycled plastics. Now that is eco-friendly! The brand is called SOLO Eyewear. The company is known for ethical employment policies PLUS they donate 10 percent of their annual profits to help bring eye care to poor and underserved populations. Just click on the button below for the catalog and you will see different styles for either men or women. By the way, these sunglasses can be purchased with or without a prescription. Need a gift for a friend planning a winter trip to some far away tropical destination? Perfect timing.
#6 ECO-FRIENDLY CLOTHING. The apparel industry worldwide has gained a reputation for low wages for workers, sometimes operating in unsafe or illegal work spaces, contributing to environmental pollution, and more. It is hard but not impossible to find responsible and eco-friendly clothing brands that stand apart from the crowd. One such brand that made a good name for itself in the past decade or two is Patagonia. You are probably familiar with their line of outerwear like jackets or waterproofs. And now here is a new brand called Free Fly. They make clothing from sustainable bamboo viscose fibers and use only factories certified by a global auditing authority with rigorous modern standards for worker health and safety. In the image below you can see an example of short and long sleeve women's tops from Free Fly. They also sell bottoms and accessories for both men and women. Bamboo blended fabrics are great for travel because they are wrinkle-resistent, feel soft against your skin, have natural moisture-wicking properties, and do not retain odors. A fine travel gift indeed!
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