This is the part where you’d expect me to tell you about how global warming and climate change is horrible and you can do something to stop it — but you already know this, that’s why you’re here.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Rising global temperatures. Melting polar icecaps. We all know this.
And we all know that we can play a simple yet impactful role in stopping the damage from getting worse. We can change our habits.
Though let’s be honest, that’s easier said than done.
Being zero waste on the go is really difficult, sometimes near impossible. But that shouldn’t stop you from at least trying to reduce your footprint!
In fact, here are four simple ways you can reduce your waste, no matter where you are in the world:
1. Bring your own
Really, this is the simplest thing in the world. I have a pouch that I carry around that hold a bunch of metal straws, a straw brush, a pair of chopsticks, a fork, a spoon, a spork… That’s right… I have a spork, and I’m not afraid to use it.
I even have a collapsible tupperware that’s saved many leftovers from being binned. I use a collapsible coffee cup for those takeaway caffeine hits. I bring along a reusable bottle to avoid buying them bottled.
I have a bunch of nets that I use when I’m out buying fruits and veg, and I have a collapsible shopping bag to carry around said shopping.
No matter where I go, I bring my tools with me. That spork I told you about has been especially handy on flights along with my reusable napkin.
If you’ve been thinking about reducing your waste footprint, you should scout out a zero-waste store near you. There hasn’t been a city that I’ve visited that didn’t have one of their own — that tells you how significant the movement is!
It may be tough at first to start with, but you’ll get into the habit of packing all your gear before you leave your humble abode.
2. Reuse, reuse, reuse
For those odd days that you do forget your ‘reusables’, and there will be those days — don’t torture yourself and carry a bunch of shopping all the way home just because you didn’t want a plastic bag.
Reuse the plastic bag instead. Bring it along with you for the next trip to the shops, or you can repurpose it and use it as a rubbish bag.
Reuse that plastic takeaway container to keep home-cooked leftovers, or use it for the next time you’re going out to eat to avoid getting another one.
If you prefer buying canned bolognaise instead of making it yourself, opt for the ones stored in glass bottles. You can repurpose them to store herbs and spices. You can even use them as a vessel for overnight oats, or a delicious parfait.
Really, the opportunities are endless!
3. Learn to say ‘no’ in the local tongue
You might be a little hesitant to say ‘no’ to a local, especially since you’re a visitor but trust me, they are completely fine with your strange (to them) request.
If you’re finding it difficult to communicate in English that you don’t want to use a straw, or you don’t want a plastic bag, perhaps try speaking in their tongue.
Doing this will provide you with a win-win situation. 1) You’ll prevent yourself from adding to your waste footprint, and 2) You’ll make a local smile with your sick language skills.
Oh, and you’ll learn a bit of a new language too. That’s always a plus.
Here are a few phrases you can use that I’ve learned at a few nomad hubs:
(the languages are similar, and they can understand each other)
Please don’t give (me) a straw — Tolong jangan bagi sedotan/straw
I don’t want a plastic bag — Saya tidak mau beg plastik
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Can I use my own tupperware? — Boleh saya guna bekas sendiri?
(I) don’t want (a) straw — Mai ao rot (my-ow-lawt)
(I) don’t want (a) plastic bag — Mai ao thoong plastic (my-ow-tuung puh-la-si-tik)
(I learned this when I visited Taiwan, but can be used in China and Singapore)
(I) don’t want (to use) a bag — bù yòng dàizi
(I) don’t want (to use) a straw — bù yòng xīguǎn
(the Caucasian country, not the American state)
No bag — ar paketi
No straw — ar chalis (chuh-ah-lis)
4. Give the plane a pass.
If you’re planning on moving from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (or vice versa), don’t take a plane. Opt-in for a train ride instead!
Kuala Lumpur to Singapore? Take the bus!
Yes, yes, it might take longer but think of it as “the scenic route” (which it most definitely is!). You can’t enjoy the luscious greens your country of choice has to offer from the air, after all!
The best thing about skipping a plane ride? Not only would you be cutting down your carbon footprint drastically, but you’d also be saving lots of money most of the time.
There you have it — four simple tips on how to be an eco-friendly, minimal waste digital nomad.
So take a bit of time and effort to use these tips, incorporate them into your daily life. Let’s help not add to the waste clogging up our oceans.
Let’s be responsible digital nomads — let’s travel the world and take care of the planet.
Previously published on medium.com and is republished here under permission.
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