As promised, here’s a blog about how I traveled zero-waste by airplane. I am fully aware of my carbon impact when flying (especially internationally). But to get from Toronto to London – I really had no other choice. When possible, other modes of transport are much better environmentally. Now that I am in Europe, my goal will be to have zero-waste air travel.

Knowing that my flight on its own was harming the environment, I was determined to ensure that at the very least I don’t contribute any more waste. So in that regards, my 7-hour flight was zero-waste air travel and plastic-free. In short, I contributed NOTHING to landfill.

On her blog, Bea Johnson (zero-waste lifestyle leader) kindly shares her experience and ‘waste-nightmare.’ Under the impression that those packaged and canned drinks will easily be recycled, she conducts a bit of research to find out that:

“No airlines currently recycle all of the main types of recyclables: aluminum cans, glass, plastic and paper …because of airport recycling policies and customs. According to Green America Today, United and the US airways rank worse on sustainability scale comparing 11 airlines (US Airways throwing away 1 million plastic cups every 6 hours). BA was not far behind, in the 8th place. According to a report by the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), “The U.S. airline industry discards enough aluminum cans each year to build 58 Boeing 747 airplanes and enough newspapers and magazines to fill a football field to a depth of more than 230 feet.”

These figures are impossible to fathom. Now, imagine the amount of plastic and waste airlines use up to give you your little blanket packages, headphones, food (individually wrapped and then placed again in plastic containers), cups, utensils, napkins…shall I say more?

With my new learned knowledge, I thought to myself…I will fly prepared – and that I did. I refused Airplane food (because of its excessive packaging) and instead took my own sandwich (in a cloth and reusable sandwich bag), chocolate pretzels and nuts (purchased at the bulk store in my organic cotton bags), fruits, bamboo utensils, reusable organic cotton napkins and my very own mug (for tea and water). I also made sure I had a big scarf to serve as a blanket and my own headphones.

To be honest, I was a bit worried about the reactions. I thought people would look at me as if I was strange. But the couple next to me thought my food looked delicious and once I explained why I had brought my own food they both really admired the idea. On another occasion, the flight attendant (once I refused the breakfast cake/bread loaf) insisted that it’s delicious. I then had to tell him that I avoid food that is packaged – and for that he apologized. The best part was when I used my own tea mug. The flight attendants seemed to really like it, and even cheered me on – and I managed to get more tea than everyone else. 🙂

So there you have it. Here is my experience having zero-waste air travel. Make sure you look at the guidelines for your airline so that you know exactly what you’re allowed to take. Don’t forget to share your comments below. Sign up to our News Letter for our weekly blogs and promos.

Happy (waste-free) travels.