how to reduce your waste in flight

There are few places I love more than Logan International Airport in Boston. From family visits to my first international solo trip, Logan and other airports have become a sort of escape room for me—a Platform 9 ¾ to my constantly itching travel bug.  

But like any traveler, I have gripes, the biggest being how hard airports and airlines make it to avoid plastic. Whether its a cruelly early flight time, limited room in a carry-on, or 10+ hours on a plane, flying poses a challenge to those of us trying to reduce our footprint. Fortunately, with a little planning and a few travel essentials, I’ve found simple ways to fly around the obstacles.

Reusable Water Bottles:

If there’s still any question: Yes, you can bring a water bottle on a plane, just make sure its empty before going through security. Sadly, many airlines still don’t offer recycling and that means any plastic or aluminum you use will likely be thrown out. Fortunately in 2019, bottle filling stations are all over airports. I’ve also found flight attendants are happy to give your bottle a refill while they’re handing out beverages, all you have to do is ask.

Canteens or Coffee Cups:

For me, travel doesn’t happen without a generous serving of caffeine. But if I used a disposable cup every time I dosed up, I’d throw out three to five cups per trip, and that’s not counting the coffee I’d drink once I arrived at my final destination. So instead, I carry a Joco travel mug that I clean after every use, dry, and store in my carry-on. If you’re a cold brew or smoothy feign, remember there are great tumblers available with reusable straws so you can continue to indulge, plastic-free. 


Available at specialty grocery stores and online shops, like the Package Free Store, you can find sporks and other travel cutlery in a range of designs and materials. I love my bamboo model by U-Konserve. Although it doesn’t include a knife, the spork has been a real lifesaver for a 24/7 grazer, like myself. Plus, it’s never once been an issue going through security.      


Depending on how long I’m traveling, I’ll usually pack at least one tupperware container. If I’m gone less than a week, I prefer to bring a takeaway tub I have lying around the house so I can just recycle it when its empty. But for anything longer than a week, I take something more sturdy. Aside from being convenient, carrying a salad or pre-made meal also means I can steer clear of any unhealthy or questionable airline meals.

Tote bags

The modern-day bag lady, I don’t soar at any altitude without a tote. With great options, like Baggu, taking up less space than a wallet, there’s really no reason to not bring a bag along. Even if you don’t need it in-flight, I guarantee you’ll find a use for it when you land.

Bulk snacks

Cookies. Candy. Chips. On a daily basis, these snacks are hard to resist, and for whatever reason, they become ever harder to avoid at 50,000 feet above the ground. So before you step foot in the airport, swing by your neighborhood grocer to stock up on fruit, bulk nuts, and other package-free snackables to avoid plastic and, more important, hanger.

Happy flying,


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