Travel packing

Exodus Edits: Seven tips for sustainable packing

Sustainable travel goes beyond considering about our carbon footprint. When it comes to packing, there are choices that we can make that contribute to positive change. Thinking about what we pack (and how much) are all part of the small steps we all need to make in travelling more responsibly.

Summer bag with towel

1. Replace wet wipes with flannels and water 

Wet wipes, antibacterial wipes and make-up removing wipes are undeniably convenient. But because of their high plastic content, they’re not biodegradable, and many end up polluting our oceans. Make an easy switch and pack flannels in your case instead, replacing dependency on wet wipes with a water and flannel combo. Choosing muslin cloths, such as these from Neal’s Yard Remedies, means they’ll dry quickly or opt for Tabitha Eve bamboo flannels for antifungal and antibacterial properties. Make sure you pack enough and then wash and reuse them when you return home.

2. Bring a multi-purpose towel

Laundry from hotel towels and sheets has a significant environmental impact. By bringing a multi-purpose towel on your trip means you can help save water by choosing not to use towels that hotels provide. Some are made from antibacterial bamboo fibres (so no nasty smells or mould). But there are other benefits too. Use them when you’re whitewater rafting in Costa Rica, canyoning in Turkey, or trying watersports in Bali. The colourful options by Dock & Bay are light, fast-drying and fold down to an easy-packing size. And sand shakes straight off them. No brainer.

3. Don’t forget your reusable bag

Rejecting single-use plastic bags in favour of reusables is becoming second nature to most of us. So don’t let good habits slide on holiday. Reusable bags fold up neatly, ready for souvenir shopping, or just useful to have on hand when you’re on the move. Be warned: not all reusable bags are made equal. For the most sustainable option, choose one made from recycled materials, and that’s sturdy enough to last. There are plenty of choices, but our favourites include Wyatt and Jack’s tote made from recycled bouncy castles, and the Rex London shopping bag made from recycled plastic bottles.

4. Use shampoo and conditioning bars

We love how many of our hotel partners are swapping mini toiletries for bigger bottles to reduce single-use plastics. But if travellers didn’t depend on these at all, that would be even better. You can give up shampoo and conditioner plastic containers altogether and opt for bars that eliminate plastic packaging. Eco-champions Friendly Turtle has plastic-free shampoo beauty ‘kubes’ that are vegan-friendly, organic and cruelty-free. There’s even a 3-in-1 travel version that’s suitable for hair, body and laundry with built-in insect repellent. Talk about multitasking.

5. Carry reusable food containers

OK, so ‘reusable food containers’ isn’t likely to be one of the first things you write on your packing list. But think about it. Travelling with sealable containers mean you can enjoy authentic street food without needing to buy plastic-wrapped food. They also serve as excellent doggy bags, saving restaurant leftovers and reducing food waste. And that’s not all. You can also buy local produce and make lunches for day trips.

6. Wear toxic-free sun cream

Sun protection is essential when you’re outdoors in summer. But some sun protection products contain toxins that are damaging ocean corals. It’s thought that 14,000 tones of sunscreen are washed into the oceans each year. Chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate are absorbed by corals, disrupting their growth cycles and lead to bleaching. Choosing a mineral sunscreen, instead of a chemical one, is the better choice. To be completely sun-safe, make sure it’s broad-spectrum too, just like REN’s Clean Screen Mineral SPF30.

7. Pack less

Lighter planes mean less fuel and fewer emissions. So while it’s tempting to pack that extra pair of shoes, if we all packed a little lighter, that’s only a good thing.

Female carrying tote bag


Exodus Edits is committed to doing our bit to protecting our planet, the places that we visit and the people who live there.  You can learn more about where we stand on sustainability and travel, and see how we make a positive impact on the destinations we travel to thanks to the Exodus Travels Foundation.