Plastic-free traveling: Mission Impossible?

Considering I was going to be travelling around Europe for the first two weeks of the month, I decided that plastic-free July was not a possibility for me (plastic-free September anyone?) and boy was I right! However, even though I didn’t cut it out entirely, I have been trying to cut down on how much plastic I use. But I have been living in a constant limbo of airports, train and bus stations and different cities and towns, so avoiding plastic has been a struggle.

To say no to delectable treats like this while abroad would be a crime

In my travels, I tried to eat at sit-down restaurants to avoid take away containers, but let’s face it: a student on a budget cannot afford to do that for two weeks! My hostel in France did not have a kitchen, so cooking for myself was out of the questions, and who can resist the street vendors with their delicious crepes and terrible plastic spoons? Sadly, not me.
Cutting down on plastic was also not as easy as I thought it would be when staying over at friends’ houses either. We would eat in as much as possible, but when we ate out it was mostly at street stands as well, with take away food in a plastic container, with plastic utensils, put in a plastic bag. My resolve to cut down on plastic slowly dwindled as my time abroad passed, especially when having to spend time in airports and train stations. EVERYTHING seems to be wrapped in plastic, and no matter how adamant I would be in asking for them to not give me the plastic utensils or straws, the message did not seem to get across. Maybe my French is not as good as I thought it was…

I found that when you’re in a new place, trying to figure out how to get from place to place and how the metro system works, avoiding plastic is not a thing you think about. Travelling can get stressful, and adding a plastic-free challenge makes it even more so; sometimes you just want to eat whatever is available, without having to think about where it came from or how it’s wrapped.

Now, however, I will be staying in the same place for a whole month, so I have no excuse to not cut down on plastic anymore. Even on weekend trips, I will be more mindful of what I eat and where. Most importantly, I will not be shy when explaining to people why I can’t buy that water bottle or eat that ice cream with a plastic spoon.

-Blog post by Ana Gargollo, Director (2nd term)