A lot of locals in remote islands or in other places around the world are not as aware of plastic and environmental issues as the UK. Often they have the mentality that if they didn't put the rubbish there it's not theirs to clean - when it's a responsibility for all of us. They care about tourists but don't see any connection between the environment and tourism. That means tourists have a huge opportunity to make a difference and make locals care by realising it may impact tourism. Speak up and say that you don't want single use water cups or straws at a seaside restaurant. If you're at a water front restaurant, tell them nicely that you're not eating with them if the water is filthy or if there are straws all over the beach. On the flip side - speak up and tell them how much you love their efforts if they are making efforts. We found places in Sri Lanka and Formentera with metal straws and glass jars for smoothies - so we wrote great reviews for them on Tripadvisor.
Mention in person and then rant or rave on Tripadvisor - business owners and locals will soon see that the environment impacts tourism.
Be a Slow Traveller
Be a slow traveller and sit down for meals. As convenient as Pret and M&S are, we now get to the airport a little earlier (totally out of character for me) and sit down to eat rather than grabbing take away. We have our takeaway containers and usually order extra to take as leftovers as we avoid plane food and snacks. It also means you are less likely to miss your flight!
Stay Near Markets or Agritourismos
We love picking Airbnbs so we can cook and select those that are near markets so popping downstairs each morning and collecting everything we need whilst immersing ourselves in local life. In Rome we stayed above Piazza Di Fiori and in Trapani we have the local market downstairs. It makes a huge difference living by a market as you have a real local experience every day and don't have far to carry the groceries! In Mallorca we stayed at an Agritourismo with chickens and a veggie garden that the girls could access every morning to help collect eggs and food.
Search for Zero Waste Shops
Unfortunately markets don't usually have everything. So I do a quick googles search for zero waste or bulk food shops when I arrive somewhere. The website https://www.bepakt.com/ is a great reference for a list of locations. We then spend time in our first few days checking them out and doing our shopping. Often we visit a few to cover all our needs, finding ones with milk in glass is a real treat. It gives us a sense of direction as soon as we arrive somewhere and it is a bit of an adventure.
Make Zero Waste Fun
Whether it's at a bulk food shop and supermarket, we make it a treasure hunt seeking out food with either no packaging or in glass or tin (that is readily recyclable). My kids love going on the hunt for yoghurt in glass or finding nuts at the markets to make nut milk. We also seek out local activities related to food production, such as cheesemaking or mushroom foraging and of course embrace local foods for breakfast - such as olives, cucumbers and eggs.
Ok, it sounds a little wanky but it's anything but! If you're in a location that lends itself, engage with your food and forage for some. If you have kids it's a great way to connect them with the environment and teach them about local flora and cuisine. Have a forage and then include what you find in your next meal. My kids hated pomegranate until they picked it off the tree themselves. The Mediterranean islands are full of wild herbs, succulents, figs and carob and of course the allusive prickly pear. France has mushrooms and sunflower heads full of seeds, everywhere has something. My daughter and I have spent a good 2 hours trying to remove the micro-needles from our prickly pear foraging experience - but it hasn't deterred us, the harder to get, the more you want it right?
Get Down with the Lingo
The best way to communicate that you don't want plastic is to learn how to say 'no plastic' in the language of the country you are in. I find people so responsive when we have clearly made the effort to learn a little bit of the language! I get the girls to look up on google translate how to say 'no plastic' in which ever language we need to use.
Do a Clean and use Hashtags
You're on holiday - it's not your responsibility to clean all the time but I feel that I can't let my kids think waste in nature is normal - and the only way to get that message across is to do something about it. We mix it up with small cleans and larger beach cleans.
For a larger clean, get in touch with a local Facebook group to see if there's anyone who can join you - just search your location and there are likely to be groups. Take pics, post on social media and use hashtags such as #2minutebeachclean #TAT #TAT*yourlocation* #trashchallenge or #3forthesea. Don't let unattractive pictures stop you posting. If you have a pretty social media account hide the waste pics in a gallery and make the leading pic pretty - the end result.
Unfortunately sometimes the only way to do a clean is to use plastic bags as hessian aren't available. But it's a judgement call - it's better to do that and remove the waste from a vulnerable area such as a beach than leave it in nature.
My kids pick up waste all the time so I actually have to put rules around it i.e. 2 Minute Beach Clean, and teach them it's not their job to do it all the time everywhere. I also make sure that if they are building a sandcastle of fairy house they only use items from nature to decorate, not trash.
Offset your travel
Finally - as much as plastic is a problem, the greatest challenge of our time is climate change. One of the greatest ways we as individuals can reduce emissions is to reduce air and boat travel. There is already too much carbon in the atmosphere, so there's a moral imperative to not add to the problem. Offsetting comes in because we can't plant our own trees en-mass or create renewable electricity in developing countries. We offset all our travel and more using Cool Effect https://www.cooleffect.org/ and their simple calculator, getting our kids involved in choosing a project. It's a small cost - sometimes as little as £7.
Then remember - have fun! It's almost impossible to be plastic free - but your efforts to be imperfectly plastic free will make a difference far beyond the actual trash you save. You'll be influencing your children, friends and over time - regulators. When you do use plastic - do it mindfully, like you would having a treat if you follow a healthy diet. If you have a plastic binge - like one trip to M&S in desperation - use it as a time to reflect on how much plastic is created in a single purchase and how far you've come by usually avoiding it. Awareness is everything.
To get daily inspiration follow Jacqui on instagram @jacqui.scruby or if you want extra help to live a plastic free luxe life check out her 6 weeks online course to going plastic free www.6weekstoplasticfree.com @6weekstoplasticfree and www.jacquiscruby.com
Also if you missed last weeks blog post you can check it out here Week 1. Plastic Free Travel - What you need to pack.