How to Fly Without Creating an Ounce of Trash

Air travel and eco-conscious living are two things not often discussed together. It’s next to impossible to justify the vast amounts of fuel burned when flying and the airline industry is notorious for its wastefulness.

That said, traveling the globe is a part of modern day life. Sometimes, taking an airplane is simply unavoidable. Hopping a flight or two this year? Here are some personal steps you can take to minimize wastefulness.

When you pack

  1. Aim for solid beauty products in zero waste packaging. Think tooth powder, bars of soap, and solid shampoos and conditioners.
  2. Bring multipurpose products. For example, you can use baking soda as a toothpaste, deodorant and laundry detergent!
  3. Avoid buying or bringing disposables like q-tips and plastic razors. There are lots of better zero waste options out there.
  4. Pack a capsule wardrobe built around the essentials. Mix and match, launder frequently-worn items and hang them to dry.

When you arrive at the airport

  1. Bring only a carry-on. Checked bags automatically cause paper waste as they require sticker tags, which cannot be recycled.
  2. Go totally paperless. Download your airline, bus, train and metro line’s travel apps. They’ll allow you to purchase and display tickets from your phone!
  3. Refuse all paper receipts. They’re covered in carcinogenic BPA (gross!) and generate trash you don’t want.
  4. Stash TSA-approved snacks ahead of time so you won’t be tempted to shell it out for a bag of chips in the airport.

Connection in the airplane

When you board

  1. Use your own earbuds to enjoy entertainment so you don’t end up having to purchase or use their plastic disposables.
  2. Say no to straws, napkins and free snacks. Airlines do not recycle! Instead, enjoy your own pre-packed snacks and fill your bottle before you get on the plane.
  3. Bring digital entertainment, rather than buying magazines. Any smartphone should have the capability to download TV shows or books ahead of time.
  4. Set a good example. The more people get used to seeing zero waste behavior around them, the more they’ll be likely to join the movement!

When you land

  1. Choose to carbon offset your flight. It won’t stop global warming, but it’s the best option you have for retroactively reducing your carbon footprint.
  2. Eat at sit-down restaurants rather than fast food joints, and use real plates and silverware.
  3. Carry a lightweight utensil set, to-go container and bottle so that you never have to use plastic disposables for street food while you travel.
  4. Eat and drink local as much as possible. Businesses that strive to source local produce will have a smaller carbon footprint and likely have more sustainable items on offer.
  5. Walk as much as possible. This will help you avoid unnecessary transport tickets and receipts.
  6. Be mindful of your consumption in hotels. Don’t let your towels and linens be laundered without cause, keep the heat or AC down, and refuse single-use tea bags, water bottles and snacks.

Remember: easy changes like this can make a huge difference in the long run. Be mindful, act intentionally and you’ll be able to fly without creating trash, promise. Have a good flight!

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William T
William T2 months ago

many thanks

Sarah A
Past Member 2 months ago

thanks for posting

Louise A
Lara A4 months ago

thanks for sharing

Mia B
Past Member 5 months ago

thank you

Ingrid A
Past Member 5 months ago

thank you for sharing

Ingrid A
Past Member 5 months ago

Thank you

Thomas M
Thomas M6 months ago

thanks for sharing

Gino C
Past Member 6 months ago


Val P
Val P6 months ago


Frances G
Past Member 6 months ago

Thanks very much