Life without Hotel Toiletries - zero waste swaps on the go

As Canadians, we are right in the middle of ‘get me the heck out of here and onto a beach’ type travel.  So I thought this might be a good time to share a few low waste travel tips! Whether you are backpacking, vegging out on a beach, or somewhere in between, I have a few great tips that will make life easy, and low waste while you’re on the go!

To kick things off

I dove into a million articles and couldn’t find any quantifiers about plastic pollution in hospitality, but we know it has to be bad.  From the plastic coffee cups (wrapped in more plastic), coffee pods, and wet wipes, to the miniature toiletries kits, shoehorns, and cotton buds. All of that really adds up.

Marriott is moving away from the single-use plastic bottles, and by cutting those out, they are avoiding 1.7 million pounds of plastic going into landfills every year - 1.7 million!  That’s insane. And that’s just one hotel brand. It also hasn't happened yet.

Let’s do some math.  

Say a local hotel chain has 300 rooms and averages an occupancy rate of 50% annually (this is starting to sound like an elementary school math problem…)  Let’s also assume that all of its guests use the shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and lotion provided; so four bottles per guest. Those assumptions seem pretty reasonable I think? 

That means this SINGLE hotel, in ONE city, throws away 219,000 mini plastic bottles each year.  That’s just a drop in the bucket because we haven’t even touched on food waste, back of house waste produced by the hotel, etc. Not to mention the number of hotels an average city has across Canada.  Safe to say the single-use output has to be in the billions.  But there are simple swaps we can make to reduce this.

In this post we are zeroing in on the hotel toiletries - those single-use plastic bottles really add up.  It’s easy (super frigging easy) to avoid them. Plus, let’s be honest, the quality of the products just isn’t that great anyway.  Your head, your hands, your body, they all deserve more than that.

Here are some super easy, throw them in your bag and go, live your best life kind of liquid-free, plastic-free solutions to all of that waste.  Phew that was a mouthful. Now all you have to do is remember to pack them...

Do not unwrap that ‘facial bar’

Just use your Konjac sponge

These are naturally antimicrobial facial sponges, infused with clays for various skin types.  So easy to use! Step one: remove makeup, step two: run the sponge under warm water, and cleanse your face with the sponge, using small circular motions.  No cleanser needed! The ones we carry in the store last a couple of months if you’re using them morning and night. And they have a handy string to hang the sponge.  Keeping it as dry as possible prolongs life of the sponge. Here's what the sponge looks like:

When I was traveling over the holidays I kept my sponge in a reusable zip lock. Makes packing up a wet sponge on the go way easier. Yes ideally you would let the sponge dry, but you gotta live your life.

A word of warning - sharing is not caring with konjac sponges.  They work with your skin’s microbiome, cleansing without stripping the skin.  But you don’t want anyone elses microbiome on yours. Ew. 


Another skincare travel tip

My fave facial serum to travel with is my Skin Essense Organics Light serum.  This little two-ounce serum is 30 mls, so you can carry it on. It also does one million jobs. It is great for removing makeup, as the oils in the serum are light and cleansing.  I use this as a night serum, because it’s super concentrated (no water added here!), and then I use it in the mornings, with a drop of water to lighten it up a little bit if I’m somewhere hot and humid.  Plus this serum has a natural SPF of 10. Yes, this is a night serum, a day serum, a makeup remover, and a daily SPF all in one. Now that’s efficient.

Say no to the free baby toothpaste tubes

With Crush and Brush Toothpaste Tablets

These toothpaste tablets are a simple, plastic-free, liquid-free solution to packing toothpaste.  You just use one tablet, chew it up into a fine powder, and then brush like you normally would. They fizz in your mouth and provide a super refreshing clean!  It is a natural product though, so expect to taste a little baking soda. You get used to it!

You can portion out what you need, or take the whole jar with you (it’s a 2-ounce jar, so doesn’t take up that much space). 

Okay, we have skincare and oral care figured out... Now into the shower we go.

Skip the little shampoo and conditioners

And get yourself some Hair Bars

Another no brainer.  Shampoo and conditioner bars are small, lightweight, and obviously liquid free.  Travel tins are a great way to store your bars while on the go, or you could use a cotton produce bag - my preference is the produce bag.  It wicks away moisture from the bars and doesn’t rattle around. Both bars fit easily in our small produce bags so you can pop em in and go!

If you have been in my store or read my blogs, you know that our shampoo bars are something I absolutely rave about - If you haven’t read it, pop over my blog post all about saving money to see ALL of the reasons why you need shampoo bars in your life! Link will be at the bottom of this post.

If you’re a keener

Skip the little soap as well!  

Now this one is always an ‘if I have space’ swap.  Because to me, the little wrapped soaps aren’t the absolute worst.  Yes the wrapping is lined, so it can’t be recycled, but they are typically small packages, and much better than the little plastic bottles.  But, if you’re a keener, definitely bring along your own bar of soap. You can use it at the sink, and in the shower, and get an A+ for not opening any of the complimentary toiletries!

Another option is to use your shampoo bar as a soap bar.  Effective, sudsy, but more expensive than a traditional bar of soap. 

And that's a wrap on the shower. 

So this was a total of six products (the bar of soap and the serum you could live without if you are desperate for the space).  These six products, all together weigh 1 lb exactly. Here's the proof: 

They also all fit within the 4 inch x 6 inch scale I have.  So they are light and compact, and there is really no excuse!

To wrap things up

We all know that I’m a complete brat, and love luxury - especially while traveling, because otherwise what the heck is the point?  But these swaps I have suggested, I swear, require zero compromises. Grab your bars, your sponge, your crush and brush and your facial serum, and get going!  Away from this frigid deep freeze we call home! Quickly!

Thank you, as always, for reading

- Michelle

ps: Here’s the link to the previous blog where I rant and rave about shampoo bars.  Also some other great money-saving tips if that’s your thing :)

or if you are jet setting and want to pick up the products I recommended:

hair bars:

konjac sponges:

crush and brush:

facial serums:


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