Although enviro-explorers often aim to consume and carry less than the average traveler, they still need a home for their basics while out on the road. Heys Luggage has a solution. With the Eco Orbis collection, plastic otherwise headed for the landfill is crafted into durable, lightweight luggage—available in a variety of sizes and colors and complete with an abstract, easy-to-spot design.
For travelers who take shorter jaunts or are dedicated light packers, opt for smaller bags from companies who remember the bigger picture.
Patagonia’s Headway Duffel, lined with a hundred percent recycled polyester, is manufactured in safe working conditions with consideration for people and planet. The factory boasts fair labor practices and a “Zero-Wastewater Discharging System” through which all wastewater is treated, recycled, and reused.
Cotopaxi also offers a selection of eco-friendly packs and apparel in their Repurposed Collection. In addition to repurposing material, buckles, and zippers, Cotopaxi prioritizes poverty elimination and promotes fair and sustainable working conditions.
If you’re looking for a gift as unique as the recipient, snag a one-of-a-kind, repurposed billboard bag from Rareform.
Totes that teach
Whether trekking around the globe or just across town, a tote bag is a travel essential. Bagito goes beyond basic, bridging environmental education and practical application. Not only are their reusable bags made of recycled plastic and organic cotton, they donate 15-20 percent of their annual net revenue to a non-profit K-12 environmental literacy project.
Reusable water bottles
All that adventuring can be exhausting. It’s important to stay hydrated—and equally imperative not to pollute the planet with single-use plastic water bottles. Vapur’s Anti-Bottle Water Bottle is a lightweight, eco-friendly option. It’s reusable, collapsible, and BPA-free. For those that travel further afield where tap water isn’t safe for consumption, Vapur created a chemical-free MicroFilter water filtration system.
Lifestraw also offers a suite of reusable, BPA-free water bottles with built-in filtration systems that remove waterborne bacteria and protozoa. Their LifeStraw Mission and Family purifiers can even remove 99.999 percent of viruses. Through their Follow the Litres program, for every LifeStraw product purchased, the company provides clean, safe drinking water for a school year to a child in a developing country.
Reusable coffee mugs and utensils
At the airport and while out exploring, travelers on the go often grab single-use cups and utensils. A reusable, recyclable, BPA-free coffee mug like KeepCup or Stojo combined with reusable, bamboo utensils by Bambu or To-Go Ware can help curb carbon footprints while keeping adventurers caffeinated and well-fed.
Multipurpose travel towel
Travelers are going to need towels—whether for the beach, the bath, a waterfall hike, or a sunset yoga session. A quick-drying, antimicrobial towel made of eco-friendly fibers like the Trespass bamboo towel is an all-in-one option, eliminating the need for multiple towels and reducing resources wasted on washing and drying.
Trial-size toiletries found in the travel aisle and in hotels are typically packaged in plastic that’s discarded after use. Carrying your own enviro-friendly toiletries in reusable containers reduces plastic creation and decreases its negative impact on local ecosystems.
Alba Botanica offers an array of face, hair, and body products using biodegradable formulas and recyclable materials, including reef-safe sun protection. Sunscreen often contains toxic chemicals and is stored in harmful plastics, but All Good’s Sunscreen Butter is safe for people and planet. It’s certified organic, reef friendly, and plastic free.
Dr. Bronners 18-in-1 organic and fair trade soaps can be used as body wash, shampoo, laundry detergent, and more. Although they are packaged in plastic, it is a hundred percent post-consumer recycled plastic, and the multipurpose property of the product reduces the need to travel with multiple bottles.
Hair and skin endure a lot of wear and tear while traveling. The Argan Project’s sustainably sourced, organic argan oil contains no added fragrances or parabens and soothes hair, skin, and nails. In addition to gaining cosmetic benefits, every purchase contributes to the economic empowerment of rural Berber women in Morocco.
Lush has a variety of package-free products, including shampoo and face bars, that travel in reusable tins. Their cosmetics are handmade, never tested on animals, and contain fresh ingredients sourced locally whenever possible.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Solar power bank
Power banks are perfect for long flights and far-flung destinations where electrical outlets may be inaccessible or unreliable. And even if electricity is available, the eco-minded traveler is conscious of consumption. A solar power bank like the Dizaul Portable Solar Charger is a gift that quite literally keeps on giving—supplying power for phones, cameras, and tablets, time and again.
Eco-friendly jewelry and accessories
Going green doesn’t have to be boring. Add a splash of creativity and color with a Friends International painted paper necklace made of recycled magazines or a handwoven clutch from NOVICA. Make a bold statement with an upcycled brass collar necklace from Raven and Lily or a made-in-the-USA leather wrap bracelet by Native American designer Kristen Dorsey. Dorsey uses recycled metals and lead-free dyes to create her jewelry. For the traveling yogis in your life, a brightly-colored Lumeyo yoga mat—woven by Bedouin women using secondhand sweaters and traditional weaving methods—is a one-of-a-kind gift.
Causes and experiences
Gift giving doesn’t have to be all about conventional consumption. Get creative and give the gift of donations and experiences rather than material things. Donate to an environmental cause the recipient cares about, such as conservation, environmental education and research, or wildlife protection—or help fund a budding business in their name.
Book an eco-conscious trip with Responsible Travel, an inspiring stay at one of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, or an immersive experience that benefits a cause or community through Visit.org and Lokal Travel. Be sure to opt in to Responsible Travel’s Trip for a Trip program. For each trip purchased, Responsible Travel provides a day trip for a disadvantaged child in a developing country.
Sunny Fitzgerald is a freelance writer, sustainable travel specialist, Lonely Planet Local, storyteller for The Switchers, and a regular contributor to Kama`aina Magazine. You can follow her on Instagram @froliq and her website.