During my holiday trip to Italy, I documented ideas and tips on sustainable traveling.
It is very hard not to waste anything during a holiday. I have been trying to reduce my waste to a minimum by bringing my own water bottle, a coffee cup, and reusable bags. However, being constantly on the move and visiting unfamiliar places makes waste free living complicated. Remember not to be hard on yourself – enjoy your holiday and make the best of it. There are, however, some tips to help you stay mindful of the planet. I created a list for you, here on Choiceful.
Next to this list, our article about zero waste essentials for when you leave the house can be visited here.
Packing the essentials
I try to bring as little as possible to save on space and to have light luggage. I bring only the essentials that I am definitely going to wear and use. My switch from liquid shampoo, which comes in plastic bottles, to solid bar soaps was life changing! The soap bars make my skin softer and last much longer. They also take way less space, which is an advantage for traveling. When going on holiday, I put them in stainless steel containers or reused glass jars. This way, there is very little chance that something will leak. Besides, you can take everything on the plane because none of the soaps is liquid.
For dental hygiene, I bring bamboo toothbrushes from Hydro Phil and toothpaste tabs from Dent Tabs in a reused glass jar.
I bring face oil from Botanics UK, body lotion from Lush, and stainless steel razor from Albatros.
Water bottle and a good bag
A good and comfortable bag that you can bring on a city trip or a light hiking trip is a great investment. My go-to is the Susan Bijl bum bag in size S and M. Susan Bijl is a Rotterdam-based designer whose bags, made of reused nylon and with a characteristic stripe, became iconic in the city. My water bottle, sweater and e-reader easily fit in this bag without overstraining my shoulders.
Without a water bottle I never go out of the house without a water bottle, let alone on holiday. Single-use plastic water bottles are harmful to the environment and wildlife. I use a Klean Kanteen water bottle that I bought at Ecomondo. This water bottle is made of stainless steel and has a wooden lid. I can also hang it on my bag, which is a handy way to have it on me the whole time.
I like to visit bio and bulk shops to see what kind of products they offer and whether I can buy some zero waste snacks. It also offers you the opportunity to visit less touristic sites of the city, since bio and bulk shops are usually in parts of the city where only the locals go. During my holiday in Corsica, I found a bio bulk shop in Ajaccio called Naturalia. They had a wide assortment of bulk items, zero waste products and bio veggies and fruits. They also had a crate with misshapen or almost over-the-date veggies that could be purchased with 30% discount.
Naturalia also sells aloe vera leaves and I had to buy one. My skin was exposed to the sun for more than a week and needed a good hydration treatment. Take a look at our Aloe vera treatment tip to learn how to use it on your skin.
The outstanding thing was that the shop still sold meat and fish products. In Rotterdam that is something that a bio bulkshop usually does not do but I guess the locals still love their meat too much.
I like to act as if I am a local, and visit places and buy things that locals would, too. Buy doing so, you visit less frequented places and support locally made products. In Corsica, the inhabitants make lotions, essential oils, and sprays, from the flora and fauna. The herbs all have their own medical properties and have been used for centuries by the local people.
In one of the villages of the West coast, I bought a massage oil made of small grain of clementine that can be used before or after sport activities to relax the muscles. I also bought a facial spray made from everlasting flower plants. Both sprays are made of local herbs and flowers and come with a little booklet about the characteristics of the plants.
Next to that, Corsica is also famous for its craftsmen and women. In the 1970s, little villages of the island started to get emptier by the minute. The municipality started to fund artists who wanted to make art on the island. It worked out quite well. Today, the island is still full of pottery makers, arts- and crafts-inspired designs of clothing, jewelry, and other hand-made products. All of the artists and designers use as much of the local resources as possible, importing only the essentials.
I could not resist and bought a bunch of wool in the village of Costa from a local craft shop. The label mentions the name of the artist, together with her address and additional information. I found this a very transparent way of selling artists goods that should become the norm to create a fair and transparent production chain.
Second hand shopping
I love to take a good look at second hand clothing and book shops, hoping to find a hidden gem somewhere (I’ll share more on that in our upcoming issue on sustainable fashion). It also gives me a great opportunity to visit less touristic places. This time was no different. I saved “vintage clothing” in Google Maps to easily find them again.
Italian people are known for their good taste in style and I had a great time while shopping second hand. I did not buy anything in most shops but I got inspired by the collection of clothing. However, I was able to score a cotton bathrobe, a cotton Ralph Lauren dress and a Max Marra silk skirt. All second hand, made of natural materials!
Composting and recycling
After arriving in Corsica by car (and ship), I took a tour around the house. To my surprise, there was a compost hidden by a wall of beautiful flowers in the garden of the Airbnb. It was a handy solution and looked good at the same time, showing how sustainable solutions can be creative. We could throw our food scraps in the compost instead of the solid waste bin. Corsica is an island and the locals try to use as much of local materials, and waste as little as possible.
It is totally OK to ask your Airbnb host if they have recycling or composting options next time you stay somewhere. It shows how much you care about the environment and it might surprise you what kind of options the place you visit offers. You may also inspire your hosts to pursue sustainable options.
Throughout Italy, every Airbnb or hotel that I visited had recycling options, and a lot of composting and recycling bins were placed on the streets with dates indicating emptying dates. It was a very handy system that I bet inspires the locals to recycle and be more environmentally friendly.
Gardens and balconies
The rule for balconies in Italy: the greener the better.
It is very inspiring to look at the architecture and the green balconies with a wide variety of plants. In the Italian warm climate, succulents and other exotic plants stay healthy and green outside as well. In the Netherlands, it is better to take a good look at what kind of plants will survive the lack of sun and a lot of rain.
Green and lush balconies also give more shadow, making apartments cooler inside. Next to that, after rain,the plants cool down the streets as well. Lastly, all plants store Co2 (carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere, making the air cleaner and fresher.
Visiting a botanical garden to look at local plants and garden designs is a great activity. It can be inspiring to discover new plants and flowers. We visited the Botanical Gardens of Rome where we saw water lilies, succulents and other inspiring arrangements of plants and flowers.
Now that the summer break is over, we’re excited to share the new issue with you. Sustainable Fashion is coming soon with tips on how to spot the best second hand outfit, how to clean your clothes without washing, and why it is important to know the source of your textile.