Zero Waste Travel | Typically when I take a vacation, I sloppily throw together enough outfits for a month, bring more toiletries than I use on a normal day, and pack a massive amount of miscellaneous items to cover just about any “what if” scenario that I could anxiously think up. I always choose the biggest suitcase I own to stuff and still end up sneaking items into my husband’s. When we finally get to our destinations, we usually spend the entire trip with no regard to what kind of waste we create. It’s purely convenience and selfishness. Well, this vacation was different. This time I was determined to fit 10 days on a cruise to Mexico, Honduras, and Belize in just a carry on as well as get through the entire trip without producing any trash. I was doubtful this could be done considering the multitude of activities our cruise ship had to offer and the uncertainty that I’d have access to package free items in these unfamiliar places. At times I felt like I was borderline crazy for attempting this but thankfully I was nearly successful. I say nearly because there are a few items I’m still dealing with as a result of the vacation. I’ll get to that later.
Taking a cruise requires many different kinds of outfits since the activities available on board are nearly endless. By choosing pieces that I could wear multiple times in different ways, I was able to pack fewer items. Versatility was key. Below is a list of items that I packed. Could I have done better? Absolutely, but I am pretty proud of my first attempt.
- 2 formal dresses for the two formal nights on board
- 3 bottoms
- 1 skirt
- 6 shirts
- 2 bikinis
- 1 bra
- work out tank and shorts that doubled as my night clothes
- nude pumps
- toiletries (makeup, bamboo toothbrush, toothy tabs, coconut oil, hairbrush, razor, 1 pony tail holder, eye glasses, deodorant, solid shampoo, bug spray, and sunscreen)
- Camera, phone, charging cables
- Passport, IDs, Paperwork to board ship
- water bottle, for excursions
- Zero Waste Kit
Ben and I woke up bright and early the day of our departure, scrambled together our suitcases, and headed to the airport. Now, airports and airplanes are terrible places for trash. Prepackaged food and plastic cups are everywhere. It’s so easy to give into these items for a little bit of comfort because traveling is stressful enough. If you plan to avoid trash entirely, you have to come prepared. I stalked up on my favorite trail mix and packed an empty mason jar. Since you are not allowed to bring filled water bottles through security, I waited to fill my empty jar at a water fountain after I had gotten completely through.
We didn’t really have any plans for once we arrived in Texas so we winged it. We took a free ferry ride across the harbor to spot dolphins, sat by the pool, and walked up the beach.
You know, now that I put so much focus on not creating trash, I find myself noticing it more. As Ben and I walked the beach, our hearts were broken with the amount of trash that was just littering the shoreline. We spent the rest of the daylight picking up what others had carelessly left on the ground.
Once it got too dark to see we walked over to a steakhouse that was on the beach. It was Ben’s birthday so I left it up to him to choose our dinner location. The place was packed! The wait staff in white western shirts and bolo ties scurried through the saloon-esque restaurant delivering enormous platters of salads, seafood, and steaks the size of my head. I managed to keep my visit zero waste by ordering small and refusing the straw and paper napkin.
On day 2, we slept in till about 9 and headed to the front desk where breakfast was waiting for us. Most of what was available was prepackaged leaving me with a few choices. I grabbed a couple danishes and filled my mason jar with OJ and was on my way. Once we finally boarded the ship, we immediately checked out our room and explored so that we could figure out our way around.
Now choosing to vacation with Royal Caribbean, made it extremely easy to live zero waste for the entirety of the trip while onboard. They do not believe in disposables so every meal is served using real plates, glasses, cutlery, and cloth napkins. They did have optional plastic straws but I opted to refuse those.
The plates are perfectly portioned. Even I ate completely everything every evening. I’m sure this helps the over all food waste on the ship. This was something that I was concerned about. With the thousands of people on board, there was bound to be a massive amount of food waste, right? After a little bit of research, I found that the food waste is recycled. While at sea some is safely turned into fish food and some is recycled into soil additives and transported when back at port. The entire trip I couldn’t help but wonder how this vacation is affecting the environment. Was this a bad choice, was it a better choice? I’m not going to deprive myself of exploring this amazing planet to avoid any environmental impact. That would be outrageously silly. However, I can choose to support the industries that are working towards a 100% sustainable operation. More on this later!
During our first dinner, we got to meet the lovely couples that we would be dining with every evening. Ben and I love to chose the “same time” dining every evening because it’s the one structured thing to an otherwise chaotic (in a good way) vacation. It’s nice to know exactly when dinner is, where we sit, and who we will be chatting with. Not to mention that we had so much in common with all three couples! 2 of the couples were from Texas, and the other was from Norway making conversation very entertaining! We had so much fun getting to know each one of them through out the week. After our bellies were full, we opted to head to bed a little early so we could get up at the crack of dawn to enjoy our first full day at sea.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Caribbean vacation!