Green Products For Travel
My picks for the best green travel products to help you make that big step towards more conscientious, green travel. These are all products I use myself.
Introduction To Green Travel Products
My journey into the world of green travel products started like anything else. You start traveling. You do what you grew up with (i.e. you make stop at CVS the day before your trip and load up in the travel section), you start to learn more, and you start to make more critical decisions about what you're doing. Sounds logical right? Some of it was personal choice. Some of it, just by joining more and more of the online travel community you are exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking. And oddly enough, because of some of those interests or "follows" - you get targeted by advertising. Well in this case, not all advertising is bad. I learn about a lot of new products that way, it allows me to go and research them to make informed decisions.
All that said, for me, making the decision to try and use more green travel products and lesson my impact on the world was an easy one. We know so much now. And frankly, when you travel to some of the countries with less of an infrastructure, you can see the direct results of our society's addiction to plastic and convenience products. You might not see it in Normalville, USA, but I promise you it's out there. I kind of decided that for me, enough was enough.
Another important thing to consider in this philosophy is the company in general. Are they true to their message? Do they practice fair and green business methods as well? What about production and materials? It's not just about the end product, though you can start there. We can't hit on all these points 100% in every product all the time, but this is what we can think about in general.
I looked at my travel kit and noticed that virtually everything "travel sized" was single use plastic meant to be thrown away once you were done with it. Some of it was also not plastic that can be recycled (a lot of plastic out there can't, unfortunately). Some of it, was the kind of liquid that is used up wicked quickly. By some estimates, 1 billion toothpaste tubes are disposed of each year. That's with a 'B'. Yearly. Well it has to go somewhere and that would be the rivers, oceans, and unfortunately the local communities of the countries that take in our garbage for money. At this point I've seen enough coverage and videos of the content of dead whale stomachs or the Great Pacific Trash Heap or beaches on untouched islands. Islands untouched by anything except plastic wash-up on the beach, that is. I decided to change how I was doing it, and then I decided to try and help all of you wander a bit smarter, too (if you so choose).
This is a list of the green travel products I've personally researched, and used, to help myself be more of a green traveler. While I use affiliate links in some cases below, none of these products were provided by the companies, I've purchased them all on my own after making informed decisions. I've tested all of these myself. While some of these products are more expensive than your traditional travel item (more on that in the closing points), I felt it was a worthwhile decision to make the change. It's not always about pure dollars and cents.
Let's go through my full kit. You can see a full list of the links at the end of the article.
The List: My Favorite Green Travel Products
Bamboo Toothbrush - This one is quite easy to pick up. Is inexpensive, and an easy change. Bamboo is one of the most sustainable natural products on the planet. You can make all sorts of items out of it. It requires no heavy fertilizers, and can grow over 90 inches in a 24 hour period. Yes you read that right. Is it perfect and the best-ever, savior product some places claim? No, of course not. But is it better than petroleum based, single use plastic that virtually every tooth brush on the planet is made out of? Yes. I did a lot of searching to find a 100% biodegradable toothbrush, and I've not been able to find one yet. The bristles, are all still made out of nylon. That said, 90% is still a good change, until they can figure that out. One company, Brush With Bamboo, is almost there. Their bristles are mostly plant-based, though not biodegradable yet - but it's your best option out there. The particular one I bought from Amazon is no longer there, but here's a similar toothbrush kit. I was not aware of Brush with Bamboo personally when I bought, that said they will be my next purchase. I'll say it's a bit weird getting used to the feeling of using a wood-like material, but you get over it. Every plastic toothbrush ever made is still sitting on the planet somewhere (except any that were illegally burned). Think about that.
Toothpaste - Sticking with the big ones - and one of the biggest offenders as mentioned earlier - I think this one is a little harder to make the change. The alternatives are less well known, and are a VERY diff process than what we're used to. With that, I'll reveal I've recently come across toothpaste "tablets". These are physical tablets or bits that look about the size of a pill, are made without any harsh, non-natural chemicals, and use a plastic free production/shipping process. There's no wasted space (like silicone in the paste) and there are no liquids so you can pack them anywhere you want. You bite down to crush it, then begin to brush with your wet toothbrush as usual. It's an odd feeling at first but like anything, you get used to it. I've tried two brands. Bites (which has a better mouth feel and mint flavor) and DENTtabs (a brand from Germany that has fluoride). I liked the Bites better overall, but are hoping they come out with a fluoride version. Non-fluoride is OK for travel, but to switch long term, I'd like to have that (let's leave the fairly wild fluoride debate at the door, please). Both brands passed the night time brush as well as the more hardworking morning brush test. Bites also come in a small glass container that you can re-use, and they'll just send you the refills. Nice. Both companies have a worthy goal and it's one I can get behind.
Mouthwash - This was another new one to me somewhat recently, but again, makes complete sense at the end of the day. Like the toothpaste bits, we're talking about mouthwash tablets. This time, from a company called by Humankind. I like what this company stands for. They are working on the no-single use plastic future, develop products that are kind to your body and the planet (i.e., no harmful elements or chemicals), and even donate $1 of your purchase to removing plastic from the ocean. They have a refills program, so you only need their containers once, then you can refill them. The new one (seen below), even comes with a little glass for you to mix your mouthwash. Basically, you just drop the tabs into a mouthful of water, and let them dissolve. I had a variety pack, but I think I'd get the plain mint next time. I'd also use less water, as I think I diluted it too much. User error. Overall, cool idea and a good way to stop carrying endless bottles of plastic and Listerine around, then throwing them out in a country that can't handle the extra garbage. Another thing to note, this company also does shampoo and body bars (more on that idea later) and refill based natural deodorant. I'm in the middle of trying a brand out now (which I like so far), but next I'll try the deoderant from by Humankind. I like the idea of a refillable, natural deodorant where I can re-use the container. Lastly, they've got biodegradable cotton swabs. A must for a green travel product kit. And to reiterate about these tablets, your packing stays smart because there's no liquid. Put these anywhere and not have to worry about pulling them out at security. More efficient wandering.
Refillable Containers - I got tired of figuring out the best way to bring my hair (and then, beard) product with me when I travel. The brands I used did not have travel friendly sizes which is unfortunate. So I began searching pretty high and wide on Amazon for a solution. Through some trial and error (depth of container, size of opening, etc.) I settled on some aluminum tins, and some glass containers (after breaking too many plastic ones, which obviously isn't green since I can't recycle them). The aluminum tins - I label H and B so I know what's in them. You can do it directly on the container itself or get some white stickers and then do it. The glass containers, weren't quite as useful to me as the tins (the tins' wide opening worked better), but they work really well for makeup (my girlfriend commandeered them for this). Lastly, I have one for any kind of pills I might travel with, typically allergy pills (usually Benadryl - doubles as both allergy and something to make you sleepy if your schedule is off while traveling). This one looks different, so it's easy for me to identify in my dopp kit. You can pick that up here: frosted glass container. Even added up together, you're basically spending under $30.00 for potentially a lifetime use case. That's a no brainer. Images courtesy of Amazon. The glass containers do use plastic, but it's very durable (the frosted glass containers have plastic inside the lid, but it can't really break). So, these containers allow me to not buy sample sized products over and over and over. I just scoop some of my normal daily stuff in, and I'm ready to go for multiple trips. Easier to pack, and much, much less waste. My kit is pretty much just waiting for me and ready to go every time. I will say I can't speak to the individual companies that manufacture these, admittedly. But, in general, they are an important part of my kit when it comes to traveling more green.
The Shampoo/Body Bar - I shouldn't be as excited about this section as I am. But I really do think these things are brilliant. Basically, they are shampoo, conditioner, or body wash in solid form. This serves two main functions. The first, is that they last MUCH longer than your usual liquid supplies. Unless you're a professional traveler, they are going to last you most likely your entire travel year if not more. And when you really want to step it up, you can get what's more of a utility bar - a bar that combines all three of these. Yeah, that's a thing. My beard product company had one that I tried, and I really liked it. But it's round, and that's harder to find containers for it. I recently came across one from 100 Senses, and frankly I can't recommend it enough. It's a hair, conditioner, body, and shave bar. I laughed when they talked up their lather as much as they do, but honestly it's ridiculous. It's rich and thick (hence why you can shave with it). While I do love the smell, I got the Citrus Neroli one and it's VERY strong. Not on your skin, but just while it's sitting around. It's gonna make your bathroom or bag smell like this sent. So if you're sensitive to that, get the unscented (otherwise, this smell does rock). Cut this in half, and you have a small, long lasting, green travel product that could last you an extremely long time. You also cut out 3-4 items from your kit and just use one. When it runs out, just grab the other half you saved. This is the most expensive item on this list at $26.00, but the utility, length of time it lasts, and the amount of products it replaces completely justifies that. Then, to carry around a solid bar, which might be wet when you need to wander, the Matador flat pack, water tight, soap bag is an awesome travel companion. It keeps water from leaking out, but still evaporating. My limited guess work tells me it's very similar to outdoor clothing companies' rain jackets (like Columbia or Marmot). Breathable, but still water proof. If you want to go green with a utility bar, don't cancel it out by using Ziploc bags to carry it around. Get this to go with it, I really, really love it. Protects everything else in your bag. And again, I can't stress this enough: NO liquids. You never have to pull a utility bar out to go through security. You can read more about this in my review of the Best Travel Soap Kit.
Dopp Kit - So, what do I put all this in? Great timing on that question! I'm happy to answer it. For years, I used a Sea To Summit toiletry bag, and it was great and served it's purpose. This past year, I started to really get into the brand, Cotopaxi. For one, their designs are kind of an 80s vibe, but mainly just more fun and a little edgier than usual because they are so loud. Some, a bit too loud for me. But generally speaking, I love the brand and what they stand for. Their slogan is "Gear for Good" and they focus on creating their products out of re-purposed materials (it's why they are often crazy colors, because they come from different source fabrics) and providing fair working conditions to their factories. The dopp kit in particular is really cool, as it's part of their Del Dia line. This means the products are virtually one of a kind. The workers that create the product have the ability to choose their own colorways, so you basically get a diff product each time. Really cool idea. The Cotopaxi dopp kit is part of this program, and you can't even choose the color. You get what you get, but you get to know that someone really took the time to build something with a bit of themselves in it. They do this same concept in some of their travel packs, too. It's pretty great. I just really like what this brand is doing, and it's a good way to set yourself apart a little on your wander vs. all the Herschel and Fjallraven bags out there (nothing against those well made bags, just not very original). Be sure to hop on over to Cotopaxi.com and check out their other stuff if that sounds appealing to you.
Patagonia Products - OK, so this might make you think I'm cheating, picking an entire brand. But hear me out - especially you East coasters (like me) that used to think Patagonia was just the North Face of the West coast. I know I did. But the company is a huge proponent of being a corporation with a soul. They are one of the older Bluesign companies, having worked with this organization since 2000. This ensures ethical practices in manufacturing. Many of their products list the factory and it's whereabouts that the product is made in. They once ran an ad campaign telling people not to buy their stuff if they didn't need it. No kidding. Further, they will repair almost any of their products for you if they can, because they want to ensure that the gear doesn't end up in the waste system. Now, they've begun heavily making products out of recycled plastics. Considering their repair and re-use and resell mentality, this works towards that plastic never returning to the waste system. Products like backpacks and duffels especially, but even jackets now. The famous Black Hole bag line, has bags made of recycled plastic. That's a great trend that is not only being done by Patagonia, but they are certainly going all in here. Beyond that, their former CEO helped to found actual national parks in...you guessed it...Patagonia. So really, this company is just fantastic. Invest in a good product, you'll be part of a good circle, and you'll have that for a long time if not forever, since they will repair it for you for free! Sometimes, the battle scars are actually cool, too. Head on over to find your next green travel bag, to put all these other green products in. Patagonia site.
Final Thoughts on Green Travel Products
Something I obviously feel pretty strongly about. But not just because I think it's something we have to be doing. Not to be preachy. But honestly, it's one of the EASIEST ways to be more green and more eco when you are traveling - to start with your toiletries. All those products above can make your life a lot easier while you're on the go. They require some change in habit and how you think, but they aren't lacking in anything. Well other than chemicals. Hey oh! No more liquid waste, not more artificial chemicals going into local water systems, no more single use plastic, and hey, easier time packing and going through security. You're also helping some of the countries that we love to visit, that don't have as developed an infrastructure to handle all of the waste that, let's be honest, is only there because of travelers like us. Sad but true.
I wanted to make sure I addressed a couple of other points too while we're here and before I bring this to a close. The first being the price. Yes, most of this stuff is more expensive than your every day, Travel Section items. But honestly, it has to be. It's new. Most of these people are trying to pioneer a new version of the products big business has pumped into our lives for decades. Literally pumped - most are heavily made with or by petroleum products. It doesn't have to be that way. If people start buying products like these - volume increases. That means they can pioneer new manufacturing procedures (cost goes down as volume goes up). That also means that these big companies will be forced to go after a piece of this pie - and I don't think that's bad. That means more people that wouldn't have access to this kind of product, would be able to walk into a normal store and find something like it. That's change. And really least of all, I'm willing to pay a little more for something that's made using ethical business and manufacturing processes, treating people like humans along the way. Is the only reason for not buying products like these ignorant retorts like, "If this was 10 bucks cheaper, maybe" or "This should be way cheaper than this". Really? Why? Because products that use mass produced chemicals, questionable manufacturing environments, and made in much larger quantities than these new products are cheaper? That just doesn't make any sense.
The other thing I'd like to point out, because you see it all over in today's "cancel" culture, are the folks that go on these websites or comments on Instagram and immediately poke holes in a company's strategy or product for not meeting 100% of their chosen or desired philosophy. It's as if a company that's figured out how to change 90% of the product/process on it's first or second go, is a bad thing? So, 90% of the way there is the same as 0% from the big consumer companies? Really? I just hope people start coming around a little and start understanding that it just doesn't work that way. These new companies need to basically invent new manufacturing processes, supply lines, and really version 2 and version 3 products. It doesn't happen over night. And, if we don't start taking steps to buying these, it honestly never will. We're making it easy for the big companies to block change. If you CAN find a company or method that 100% meets your qualifications when these don't, that's OK too! Use that product! But, I think it's unrealistic to come in all guns blazing and firing at these companies (and sometimes, individuals) that are in fact trying to make a change. That's like coming to your boss with all the problems and no plan for solutions. Who is that helping? Where's the productivity in that method? No more finger pointing, and more cheering on the companies and individuals who are making their own changes, no matter how small to start.
So I don't expect you to immediately jump in and latch onto the products I mentioned here. But, they're out there. And hopefully they either convinced you, or made you curious enough investigate on your own for similar green travel products that might fit your lifestyle. No one is going to make the world better for us, we have to do that ourselves. Small changes can make ripple effects. Try to wander greener.
For our full list of tips articles like this and general packing or travel info, head on over to our travel tips page.
Here's the full list of products: