Good Green Baggage Tips

Read these 14 Good Green Baggage Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Green Travel tips and hundreds of other topics.

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How can I prepare myself to be a responsible traveler?

Pack Some Awareness

Research the main environmental and conservation issues in your country of destination. It may, for example, be useful to know that the country has been through a heat wave. You are then more likely to be sensitive to your water consumption. Knowing that a certain species is in danger may prompt you to visit a nature reserve where that animal can be found. Your visit would contribute to supporting that species. provides updates on human rights and conservation issues worldwide. It also lists volunteering opportunties.

What kind of light-weight gifts can I bring to another country?

Bring A Gift Of You

Foreign hosts and people in the hospitality industry may appreciate a gift representing something from your culture. Lightweight but meaningful and personal tokens may include postcards bought in your own country, photos of wildlife back home and favourite recipes.

How can I be sure that I'm not buying something made from an endangered species?

Check The List

While many ecotourists wouldn't dream of buying anything made from ivory, they may see nothing wrong in buying a coral necklace or a jar of caviar. It's difficult for a layperson to keep up with what's endangered and what's not. The World Wildlife Fund has simplified the task with their Souvenir Action Alert. The following may be less well-known mistakes than buying crocodile skin bags and ivory statues:

  • Coral is an important part of a reef's structure. It's not just an inert lump of jewelry;
  • Certain species of caviar are near extinction, so it's important to know what you're eating and where it comes from. Beluga caviar is out;
  • Some species of cacti are strictly controlled as well.

What kind of solar powered camping gear is on the market?

Let The Sun Shine

According Popular Mechanics, the sun provides enough energy to power everything on earth 1500 times over; It's just a question of learning how to direct that energy. All of these items can run on photovoltaic, fume-free cells and are available in manysporting good stores:

  • radios
  • flashlights
  • camp lanterns
  • reading lamps
  • small solar ovens
These items usually come equipped with a back up source of power, such as batteries, for cloudy days.
Many stores, including Patagonia, Modern Outpost and Mountain Equipment Co-op sell some solar powered items.


Invest In A Digital Camera

Besides the fact that digital pictures are often better quality, can be previewed instantly and are easy to send via e-mail, their production is less dependent on harmful chemicals than conventional photo finishing is.

If I'm not planning to eat in restaurants all the time, what's the minimum I should pack for meal preparation?

Eat Out - In The Park

  • You also save lots of money by eating out in the park rather than in the restaurant;
  • If you buy unwrapped fruits, vegetables and nuts, there is almost no litter left behind.
I'll be out in the woods, so could you recommend a "green" bug repellent for me?

Take The Sting Out Of Pesticides

Fear of contracting West Nile Virus provides even more incentive to buy powerful insect repellents. During the last few decades, DEET was marketed as the most effective ingredient in mosquito repellents. However, prolonged exposure to DEET may be harmful to a child's developing brain. Products containing lemon eucalyptus have been proven to work for about four hours, without any danger to human health.

I tend to pick up lots of brochures from all the tourist offices I visit and wonder what to do with them afterwards, besides chuck them in recycling?

Post It

Considering that it takes about 66,000 gallons of water to produce one newspaper, recycling should be an obligation, not an option. You can use pictures and captions from your brochures in the letters that you send home. This way you deliver the details of your trips without having to spend on new postcards and you save some paper. You can also make montages to slip into a photo album.

I find disinfectant wipes very convenient and space effective to use when I'm traveling, but are they harmful to the environment when thrown out?

Make Your Own

You can have the wipes without the harsh chemicals by making your own. Cut a roll of quilted paper towel (from recycled material) in two and place one half in a snug fitting spill-proof tupperware container. Mix together equal parts of vinegar and water and pour enough over the towlettes to saturate them.

Is there one gentle, effective product I can pack for skin care?

Apply Aloe Vera

Gel made from the thick leaves of the aloe vera plant has been used for centuries to treat cuts, burns and dry skin conditions such as eczema. Some studies suggest that it has mild antiseptic and anti inflammatory properties. Just remember, a bottle of fresh gel will need to stay cold, so you'll need to have access to a fridge or cooler while you're traveling. Otherwise, you can opt for aloe vera based creams, but they are generally diluted with other products.

Is there one multi-purpose cleanser I can pack that will save space and spare the environment?

Scrub With Soda

Baking soda is remarkably versatile. Mixed with water it makes a paste that can be used to whiten your teeth, polish pots and pans and scrub your sneakers clean. A handful poured into the bath can soothe insect bites and poison ivy rashes.

Plastic or paper? With recycled plastic available, I'm not sure what's better for bags.

Carry Cloth

There have been reports of birds and marine life ingesting or being strangled by stray plastic bags. Carry a cloth bag for shopping so you won't need to take plastic ones from stores. The production of paper bags is more energy-intensive, but plastic bags take longer to break down. Health food outlets often favour hemp bags because hemp is stronger than cotton but doesn't depend on pesticides for optimal growth.

How can I avoid overpacking?

Shave Off A Bit Of Clutter

According to a World Bank Report, municipalities in developing countries have to spend up to 50 percent of their budget to cope with waste management, which also explains why some waste is not even collected. Here are some tips to cutting the clutter when traveling, and helping to limit the waste management costs in developing countries:

  • Don't clutter your suitcase - or foreign garbage cans- with disposable razors. Buy rechargeable razors that only require new blades.
  • Before you toss the empty shampoo bottle, remind yourself that the locals have enough of their own plastic waste to manage. Some types of plastic can take almost a century to break down.
  • Place liquids, like shampoo and shower gel, in small, leak-proof bottles made for traveling. If you take only what you need, you won't have to worry about lugging things back home. You'll return with lightweight travel containers that you'll want to reuse.

Does eco-friendly equipment have to be expensive?

A Long Term Luggage Relationship

While you don't need to look for the most expensive items, you'll save money and the environment if you buy good-quality sturdy bags with plenty of trips left in them. When choosing a bag, keep the following in mind:

  • You need a frame if you'll be carrying heavier loads
  • Front loading panels make things more accessible, but zippers can also let rain in
  • When you pull on a seam, the stitching should be barely discernible
  • Hip belts help center the weight of a heavier load

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Linda Handiak
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