eco friendly travel containers

Eco-Friendly Containers, Toiletries and Other Travel Essentials

Rachel Lark - August 1, 2023

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Planning on getting away for a while? Bring along these eco-friendly travel containers, bug repellant, laundry pods, and other must-haves to make your trip as sustainable as possible. They’ll make your life easier without harming the environment. 

1. Deodorant

When it comes to staying fresh, deodorant is a must-have. However, look for one that will have minimal ecological impacts. Aerosolized deodorant isn’t great for the environment. Instead, choose a solid stick deodorant with plastic-free packaging, and if you can, opt for one that has natural fragrances. 

Wild deodorant comes in a refillable aluminum case and operates on a subscription service. Native makes a plastic-free deodorant stick in a paperboard tube, as does Primal Life Organics. 

2. Bug Repellant

Chemicals like DEET and permethrin are common ingredients in bug spray. However, they can also end up in waterways. Look for biodegradable products containing peppermint, citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, and other natural insect repellants. Good brands include Murphy’s Naturals, Quantum Health, and Babyganics, the latter of which makes a travel-sized bug spray. 

3. Thermos

The U.S. recycles less than 6% of its plastic, which means most of it is going to waste. Rather than buying drinks in disposable bottles at the gas station, bring along a trusty thermos to keep your café au lait hot or your latte iced. Eco-friendly brands include Hydro Flask and Tree Tribe, but there are many more to choose from. Look for a thermos made primarily of metal or ceramic.

4. Hair Care Products

Shampoo and conditioner bars aren’t just good for the environment — they also make perfect travel companions. Just stow them in a reusable bag or other eco-friendly travel containers and pop them out when it’s time to shower. /liv/ Nature and Ethique make tried-and-true shampoo and conditioner bars. 

5. Laundry Detergent

Ditch the plastic laundry soap bottle or plastic pods and use powdered detergent instead. It often comes in a recyclable cardboard box. Many major brands — including Tide, Arm & Hammer, and Gain — sell powdered detergent in cardboard boxes. To bring just a small amount with you on vacation, store it in a travel-sized metal, wood, or glass container.

6. Sunblock

There are two main ingredients to avoid when looking for an eco-friendly sunscreen — oxybenzone and octinoxate. These chemicals damage coral reefs, so if you’re headed to the beach, you’ll need to find an environmentally friendly alternative. Stream2Sea sport sunscreen, Badger Clear sport sunscreen, and All Good sport sunscreen are great choices. 

7. Dental Care Products

Traveling Panda sells a kit containing two travel-sized bamboo toothbrushes. The plastic-free package even comes with 10 toothpaste tablets so you don’t have to worry about finding a carry-on-sized tube of toothpaste. That’s one less thing to stress about! 

As for floss, most types are made of plastic and come in a plastic box. A great alternative is silk or bamboo charcoal fiber floss. You can even find biodegradable dental flossers to get those hard-to-reach areas.

8. Eco-Friendly Containers

Whether you want to pack your favorite liquid shampoo, lotion or soap, you can bring it along in eco-friendly containers that don’t contain plastic. Some examples include EcoLuxe bamboo travel bottles, small aluminum toiletry bottles you can easily find on Amazon, and small glass cosmetic jars with screw-on lids.

9. Lip Balm

You don’t have to give up convenience to cut ties with plastic. Did you know you can buy lip balm in a cardboard push tube? You can also buy it in small glass or metal tins, which are perfect for traveling. Brands that sell eco-friendly lip balm include Eco Lips and Ethique.

10. Soap

The most eco-friendly product with which to lather up is bar soap in paper or cardboard packaging — or, better yet, no packaging at all. Some plastic soap bottles are recyclable, but the pumps usually aren’t. A bar of soap is also more portable than liquid soap. Look for biodegradable options for the most environmentally friendly product. 

11. Reusable Straw

A straw lets you easily slurp up the last of your iced matcha without taking off the lid — or ruining your lipstick. It’s also helpful for many people with disabilities who would otherwise have a hard time drinking. If you prefer or need to drink through a straw, bring along your own reusable one. Many restaurants and cafes are phasing out single-use plastic straws for environmental reasons. 

12. Charger

Did you know you can power your phone with the sun’s energy? Bring along a solar charger to juice up your devices without fossil fuels. It works especially well if you plan to spend a lot of time outside, but you can also use a solar charger in sunny windowsills. 

13. Doggie Bags

If you’re bringing along a furry friend, you’ll need to pick up after them. Plastic bags are convenient but bad for the environment. In 2018, the world generated 4,200,000 tons of plastic bags, wraps, and sacks, and recycled just 10% of them. Instead of plastic, use bags made from cornstarch, vegetable oil, or paper to do the deed. 

14. Diapers

Are your little ones coming with you? Don’t forget to pack reusable cloth diapers or eco-friendly disposables. While there’s no such thing as a truly biodegradable disposable diaper, there are brands that make less-harmful diapers containing less synthetic material. Some brands include GroVia and Seventh Generation. 

15. Wet Wipes

If you’re bringing diapers, you probably also need wipes. Did you know there are wet wipe brands that don’t contain plastic? 

Eco-friendly products include Terra bamboo wipes, Ecoriginals natural bamboo wipes, Eco by Naty unscented wipes, and Dr. Butler’s organic, chemical-free wet wipes. Aside from changing a baby, wet wipes are also handy for removing makeup and freshening up on a hot day. 

16. Travel Journal

A journal is a great way to record your adventures, especially if you’re vacationing off the grid. Bring a travel journal made from recycled paper to write about your haunted city walking tour, authentic French breakfast, and camel ride across the desert — smells and all.

Journeying Lightly

No matter where you’re headed, go sustainably. Every choice you make has an impact on the environment — whether positive or negative — and it’s up to you whether you’ll leave the world a better place. Bringing eco-friendly travel containers, toiletries, and other necessities on your adventures is a great way to ensure future generations can keep enjoying travel. 

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About the author

Rachel Lark

Rachel serves as the Assistant Editor of A true foodie and activist at heart, she loves covering topics ranging from veganism to off grid living.