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  1. #1
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    Packing light vs. the environment

    As I've reduced the amount of disposables I use in travel, I've increased the bulk of what I carry.

    Plastic utensils? No thanks, I have my travel spork!

    Individually wrapped wipes/tissue packets? Nope, I have washable bamboo cloths prepared with witch hazel and essential oils!

    Bottle of water? Never! I always have a travel mug with me.

    And now my bag is bigger and heavier, and I understand why people used to travel with steamer trunks. Has anyone discovered any insights into this challenge?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lia View Post
    Has anyone discovered any insights into this challenge?
    I think you raise a good point, that sometimes having reusable stuff means having more stuff, and being responsible for schlepping it around. Then factor in storage space at home or bag capacity when on the go, and you are forced to make decisions about what to use that precious space for.

  3. #3
    Forum Member DQBunny's Avatar
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    I get this. I had splurged on a nice Coach purse this summer, but it was so heavy once I got my reusable utensils and water bottle and other stuff in it that I sold it and got my Icon. It's just something that you have to incorporate into your packing.

    How I'm managing is that I'm trying not to cram everything into my EDC at all times. My emergency tea/coffee supply I keep in my work bag (currently a Maker's Bag) rather than my Icon, for example. I'm thinking of moving the utensils into my work bag as well since I tend to need those most often at work and just get a spork for the Icon. Right now, they're in the back of my Freudian Slip I keep in the Icon.
    Meg
    -----
    Proud owner of a conifer/steel Synapse, indigo/black Swift, a couple of yarn stuff sacks, a clear organizer wallet and various organizer pouches

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lia View Post
    As I've reduced the amount of disposables I use in travel, I've increased the bulk of what I carry.
    This is definitely what I've experienced. Until I went to Japan and found everything that helped lighten the load. Titanium straw, titanium spoon, wooden chopsticks (they've titanium chopsticks but those that I came across were super pricey), super lightweight and packable shopping bag (went for one with a flat bottom that's designed specifically for carrying bento boxes), handkerchief and Tiger brand thermos which is lightweight but still keeps drinks hot/cold for hours and is practically leak proof.

    Most of the stuff I bought were made in Japan except for the thermos. With the kind of care and attention to detail the Japanese give to crafting their goods, I expect the items I got to last a very long time. A big win for reducing disposables and lightening my EDC.

  5. #5
    Forum Member b1gsky's Avatar
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    For me it doesn't make much of a difference. My stainless steel waterbottle which holds a litre weighs 200g empty. I don't think you would notice the difference to a plastic bottle carrying a bag. I don't carry cutlery in everyday life, but the set I have for longer travel is very lightweight. I don't carry a coffee mug either - I just sit down to drink and eat and pick my places so that I don't do it from disposable dishes. The only time I'm buying coffee on the go is on long train journeys, when I don't have time changing trains. I go with a disposable cup then. And it happens maybe twice a year. I also don't carry around tea or coffee supplies for the office regularly, I just stock up maybe once a month and leave the stuff there.

  6. #6
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    Kinda going off of what Latchford said, you just have to do a little extra research. You can absolutely find reusable stuff that's just as lightweight as normal ones. Titanium products are usually a good place to start. It does get pricey, though. I recommend looking at ultralight hikers' forums, like /r/ultralight on reddit. Those guys can be a bit much-they'll do literally ANYTHING to save a gram-but they also do have genuinely good tips and tricks for saving weight and space in your pack.

  7. #7
    Forum Member Rei's Avatar
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    besides all these good pieces of advice above, I could say:

    the lightest stuff are the ones we don't carry, so review each times if we really need to bring this or that, or if we just can ditch it for the trip/day... or if something else we already carry can somehow replace it.
    just a Bihnion here

  8. #8
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    Being old, I never traveled with a water bottle or wipes or sporks and so I still don't. I only eat or drink when I'm at a restaurant, or I use the water fountain if I want a drink. If I get free plastic bottle of water, I keep it and reuse it until I have to fly somewhere else. I use the shampoo and soaps that are at the hotel. I ask for their toothpaste at the front desk. I can live without my favorite products for the short time I'm traveling.

    For everyday life I use reusuable, washable items (cups, cutlery, washclothes, etc.), but for traveling, I don't bring anything with me.

  9. #9
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    Agree that it makes for a bigger and often heavier EDC. I think it's also worth noting that bringing reusables also involves a bit of planning (which is the dealbreaker for many folks). E.g. If I use my own utensils, I either have to clean them in the restaurant (with unknown hygiene in their bathroom sinks), or remember to clean them when I get home. Sometimes, if I switch to a smaller bag (going out for the evening and don't need a spork or my water bottle), I forget to switch back the next day.

    Which leads to b1gsky's approach of choosing to sit down and eat, rather than eating on the go. (Although there are some places which use disposable ware for dine-in meals as well as takeout - I'm thinking of my favorite fast-casual Korean place.) This too involves planning, in the form of leaving enough time to eat my food where I am rather than noshing on the way to my next activity. On the bright side, besides helping the planet, some things just taste better when consumed on the spot - sushi; pho; foods that are meant to be crispy.

    It's not a perfect one-to-one substitution of disposable vs. reusable, by any means. But I try to think of it as a portfolio approach: I still use plastic forks if I'm out and about and get caught without my spork. But on the other hand I have been using a reusable water bottle for years if not decades, so that's a fair number of one-use containers kept out of the landfill.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lia View Post
    As I've reduced the amount of disposables I use in travel, I've increased the bulk of what I carry.

    Plastic utensils? No thanks, I have my travel spork!

    Individually wrapped wipes/tissue packets? Nope, I have washable bamboo cloths prepared with witch hazel and essential oils!

    Bottle of water? Never! I always have a travel mug with me.

    And now my bag is bigger and heavier, and I understand why people used to travel with steamer trunks. Has anyone discovered any insights into this challenge?

  10. #10
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    Interesting! - my mom (just turned 75) is the opposite. In the old days/old country, there was really no guarantee that there would be snacks/stores on the way when traveling - nor even toilet paper in the bathroom! Thus, one traveled with everything one might need on the way. (Of course, there were always vendors, but you never knew when they would show up or what they would have. So quail eggs were a nice roadside treat, but you didn't count on them for lunch.) My mom still travels with everything from condiments to kitchen gloves to slippers to towels, even when we're going to a fully-furnished rental house. Definitely not a light packer. But even so, she has been to many more countries than I will ever get to.

    Re: hotel soap/shampoo - for myself, my hair is unmanageable if I switch products, so I bring some of my own. But also I doubt if hotels refill (or recycle) the little bottles when they are half-used, so by bringing my own I hope to minimize them throwing out more plastic.

    Quote Originally Posted by BWeaves View Post
    Being old, I never traveled with a water bottle or wipes or sporks and so I still don't. I only eat or drink when I'm at a restaurant, or I use the water fountain if I want a drink. If I get free plastic bottle of water, I keep it and reuse it until I have to fly somewhere else. I use the shampoo and soaps that are at the hotel. I ask for their toothpaste at the front desk. I can live without my favorite products for the short time I'm traveling.

    For everyday life I use reusable, washable items (cups, cutlery, washcloths, etc.), but for traveling, I don't bring anything with me.
    Last edited by haraya; 12-19-2019 at 06:27 AM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rei View Post
    the lightest stuff are the ones we don't carry, so review each times if we really need to bring this or that, or if we just can ditch it for the trip/day... or if something else we already carry can somehow replace it.
    The original message I assumed was about long distance travel so I will leave these interesting numbers.

    A 200g water bottle would cost about $400 of fuel per year to continuously fly it in an airplane. (about 4.5 cents per hour of flight) This based off calc's done about a 0.5g paperclip flying on a 747.

    A 50lb(23kg) luggage would cost about $5.17 per flight hour in fuel.

    A 150lb (68kg) person would cost about $15.51 per flight hour in fuel.

    With fuel as our carbon emission source and component of solid wastes, we need to look at big picture goals whether to move things with us or use what is at our arrival.

  12. #12
    Forum Member nsh's Avatar
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    This is exactly like my parents strategy for travel (they are 70 and 76)...My Mom and Baba prefer to drive in their old but steady Camry every where and my Mom packs a full cooler with all their snacks, sandwiches, drinks, and any food leftover in their fridge that they need to eat or it will spoil. They will drive 10-12 hours in one day. They even travel with their own portable coffee maker and coffee and just plug it in and brew on the road. They also travel with all their own sheets, kitchen gear, extra toilet paper etc. They are financially very secure but they “dont trust” food and the reliability of accessing what they need on the road. They are not light packers but they are prepared and self reliant!

    Quote Originally Posted by haraya View Post
    Interesting! - my mom (just turned 75) is the opposite. In the old days/old country, there was really no guarantee that there would be snacks/stores on the way when traveling - nor even toilet paper in the bathroom! Thus, one traveled with everything one might need on the way. (Of course, there were always vendors, but you never knew when they would show up or what they would have. So quail eggs were a nice roadside treat, but you didn't count on them for lunch.) My mom still travels with everything from condiments to kitchen gloves to slippers to towels, even when we're going to a fully-furnished rental house. Definitely not a light packer. But even so, she has been to many more countries than I will ever get to.

    Re: hotel soap/shampoo - for myself, my hair is unmanageable if I switch products, so I bring some of my own. But also I doubt if hotels refill the little bottles when they are half-used, so I hope to minimize them throwing out more plastic.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by BWeaves View Post
    I use the water fountain if I want a drink
    These are way too far and wide between. I agree with the other points though.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by haraya View Post
    Interesting! - my mom (just turned 75) is the opposite. In the old days/old country, there was really no guarantee that there would be snacks/stores on the way when traveling - nor even toilet paper in the bathroom! Thus, one traveled with everything one might need on the way. (Of course, there were always vendors, but you never knew when they would show up or what they would have. So quail eggs were a nice roadside treat, but you didn't count on them for lunch.) My mom still travels with everything from condiments to kitchen gloves to slippers to towels, even when we're going to a fully-furnished rental house. Definitely not a light packer. But even so, she has been to many more countries than I will ever get to.

    Re: hotel soap/shampoo - for myself, my hair is unmanageable if I switch products, so I bring some of my own. But also I doubt if hotels refill the little bottles when they are half-used, so I hope to minimize them throwing out more plastic.
    I was thinking flying. For car travel, I bring food and utensils, but I don't have to carry it far.

    Hotel Soap and shampoo doesn't get refilled, because they expect you to take it with you.

  15. #15
    Forum Member b1gsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by organicfarmer View Post
    The original message I assumed was about long distance travel so I will leave these interesting numbers.

    A 200g water bottle would cost about $400 of fuel per year to continuously fly it in an airplane. (about 4.5 cents per hour of flight) This based off calc's done about a 0.5g paperclip flying on a 747.

    A 50lb(23kg) luggage would cost about $5.17 per flight hour in fuel.

    A 150lb (68kg) person would cost about $15.51 per flight hour in fuel.

    With fuel as our carbon emission source and component of solid wastes, we need to look at big picture goals whether to move things with us or use what is at our arrival.
    I’m not a super frequent flyer, but I always leave my bottle at home when I visit a country where you have to buy bottled water because the tap water isn’t safe to drink. It doesn’t make sense to bring your own if you have to buy bottled water anyway. If tap water is safe I bring my own bottle. Yes, it might be heavier than a plastic bottle, but who knows if the footprint is worse or not. There’s no way I can compare it with the footprint of a bottle of water I buy at my destination because I have no way to know how that bottle was made and where it came from. So I figure I can stick with my own bottle. I always trink tap water at home btw, since I can remember.

    I agree that it makes sense to travel light if you’re a frequent flyer! But I don’t think worrying about a few grams we are taking with us when we do fly is worth the effort. This is a systemic issue and placing the responsibility on the individual is of course convenient. But it’s not going to help us. Only radical changes are going to do that. I’m all for living responsibly, but it’s not worth much if we don’t push for changes on a bigger scale. Just my two cents.
    Last edited by b1gsky; 12-18-2019 at 12:34 PM.

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