Summer is gone and although the weather is still quite warm, the reality is mid Autumn will bring the cold weather back to our lives. You can tell I am not big fan of the cold weather, but I actually don’t enjoy the super hot summer days either; perhaps I just don’t like extremes – a bit ironic in the midst of this climate debacle!    

Anyway to take advantage of the nice weather, we decided to go on a short road trip here in the state of Victoria where I live and a bit of the neighbour state: New South Wales.

Today I am not going to bore you with the details of my trip, but I thought it would be good to share some of the things we did to reduce waste. 

1. Plan the route

These days is just very easy to enter the address of the place we want to go and trust the GPS, but on road trips it is always best to ensure we are choosing the most appropriate route.

The GPS often picks the fastest way to get from point A to B, but there are other factors to consider. By defining the main routes before hand we can save time or km (and therefore petrol and CO2 emissions) and also identify good stops to take breaks. 

Country side road

There was a route we reviewed on Google Maps before our trip that was recommending us the fastest alternative of 3h 51m (327 km), but there was another option of almost 5 hours and the distance was 227 km, that is 100 km less than the fastest route!

It is worth planning your route in advance…

2. Consider home-style accommodation

Most of the time we choose home-style accommodation instead of hotels, the main reason is to have a full kitchen at our disposal.

Cooking some simple meals (especially breakfast and diner) instead of eating out all the time is a great way to save money and also reduce waste. Let’s face it, eating in restaurants and cafes is nice, but it is expensive and often in many of those places we don’t know all the waste that’s behind – think for example food waste and food scraps going to landfill.

Another reason I like is that they usually have bins for recycling. We have stayed in a couple of places that even offered the option to compost food scraps (including this last one we stayed, see point #5). We can’t find those options in regular hotels. 

Also when we rent these houses/apartments, we enjoy our stay as locals, hosts often give us local recommendations for attractions and it is way more flexible and personal than a hotel.  For us, it is better value for money!

3. Bring most of the food you need

Road trips usually mean staying in small towns/cities and best case scenario we find a supermarket or small shop to get food, but in those places is really hard to buy food without packaging, so reducing waste is a challenge.

For us it is always a better idea to plan what we need and bring the food with us. That way we can buy it as we usually do (e.g. from the bulk shop) and we don’t rely entirely on the places we find on the road.

For this last trip we filled two small cardboard boxes (they work really well to organise things in the car) with food like oats, nuts, pasta, sauces, fruits, cereal, muesli, fruits, olive oil & condiments etc. Also filled our portable cooler with some vegetables, milk and similar.   

We still bought bits and pieces on the road like bread, fruit and veggies, but it was easier to find those without the waste.

4. Don’t forget your reusable items

Reusable items on a road trip are indispensable to avoid waste, from take away coffee to packing lunch for a walk in nature. I have already written about this topic in my post about embracing responsible tourism, but it is worth mentioning it here. 

These are the reusable items we took for this trip:

  • Water bottle: we found plenty of places to refill our bottles, even in small towns.
  • Coffee cups: I drank a couple of Chai Tea latte on the go – another chai latte fan out there? 
  • Reusable cloth bags: we used them to buy fruits/veggies and also bread. 
  • Bamboo cutlery: we had a couple of lunches on the road, and some of these places only provided disposable plastic cutlery, so it was great to bring our cutlery sets with us.
  • Picnic set: Last year I bought a second-hand picnic set and I love it. It is a backpack and it has: plates, cutlery, cups, cutting board, salt and pepper and cloth serviettes. We did a couple of picnics and we had everything we needed there.
  • Containers: I took a couple of plastic containers and we used them to pack snacks and lunch. They were particularly useful the day we did a walk to Mount Kosciuszko, which is Australia’s highest mountain located in NSW. The containers were light to carry in the backpack. For the trip, we also packed some containers for take-away but we didn’t use them.

5. Collect food scraps

I you have read my blog before, you know I believe food scraps don’t belong to landfill, so every time we do road trips, we take a bucket (with lid) or some compostable bags with us to keep our food scraps and compost them later.

If it is short trip, like a long weekend, we usually keep the fruit and veggies scraps in the freezer and when we are ready to return, we just put it in our esky or the bucket and we compost it at home.

For longer road trips, then we need a bit more of preparation. For this last trip, our plan was to compost the scraps in the middle of the week and then the scraps from the other half we could bring them home.

Using ShareWaste website, I contacted a lady in one of the towns we stayed and she was happy to receive our scraps, the only problem was she forgot to reply to my messages with her address.

In the end, the last day in the house we were staying, we discovered there was a compost bin in hidden at the back of the backyard, so luckily we resolved the issue. Worst case scenario we would have taken the scraps to the next accommodation and keep freezing them until finding a place to leave them (we can always dig a hole somewhere and put it there, but it is not always practical).

I remember a couple of years ago in New Zealand, we had been trying to find a place to put our food scraps for several days and one day in a park not far from where we were staying we found a public compost bin – a miracle lol!!!!

Public compost bin

Public compost bin

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” – Theodore Roosevelt

Next week, I’ll address the elephant in the room: the carbon emissions released by doing these road trips. I hope you have found one or two ideas here for you next road trip. Let me know in the comments below: What other great tips do you have for greener getaways? I’d love to know. 

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Thanks for reading,