Zero Waste Travel Fails

So, I flew to florida to visit a friend this past weekend. This is the first time I have traveled since joining the zero waste lifestyle. Another first, I traveled by plane with only a backpack (so limited space for zero waste gear). I tried to prepare myself with zero waste items in the instance of not having the option while out and about. While I did find myself proud at a few moments, I also failed miserably many times, but I learned a lot from it all. 

 BIGGEST ZERO WASTE FAIL - We went to the Coca-Cola store and got a flight of floats. There were 8 individual plastic cups...

BIGGEST ZERO WASTE FAIL - We went to the Coca-Cola store and got a flight of floats. There were 8 individual plastic cups...

First things first, I tried to plan for times when I thought I would be given disposable options. So, I brought my reusable cutlery, a water bottle, and a cloth napkin. I definitely did use each of these items everyday during my trip, which I realize does help reduce the amount of total waste produced. 


While on the airplane, I refused the "free" refreshments and snacks. I made sure to fill up my water bottle once through airport security to ensure I would not be as tempted by the free refreshments. On the flight home, I did not plan out my eating schedule very well and found myself at 7:30pm with a hungry stomach and no food during a layover. I had not sufficiently equipped myself with any snacks. The only option was to buy a quick snack in the airport, which of course came in packaging. Another option could have been to eat at a sit down restaurant in the airport, but I did not have much time before my flight boarded. 

The first day I arrived in Florida, my friend and I went to a coffee shop. I looked around to check if other guests were drinking from real mugs, and they were! The barista asked if I would like my coffee for here or to-go. I asked for my coffee for here, assuming my coffee would come out in a real mug. They called out for me and when I walked up to the countertop, my coffee was in a disposable cup... And not only was it in a disposable cup, it also had a polystyrene lid and a disposable sleeve. This didn't make any sense to me, but I definitely made a mental note to bring a reusable coffee cup with me on my next trip just in case. Next time, I plan on asking the barista if my coffee will or can come in a real mug. 

During my trip, there seemed to be one disposable item that I definitely kept seeing placed in front of me, a STRAW. When out of my element, I suppose I forget to ask for a drink with no straw. I also assumed that at the nicer restaurants, the drink would come in a glass without a straw. There was even one restaurant that brought out our drinks with a straw in a short stemmed glass. It seemed more awkward to drink from the straw rather than from the glass itself. Straws have become such a staple in so many restaurants, and I need to learn to ask for my water with no straw ALWAYS. Times I do receive a straw, I take my straw out and lay it on the table. My thinking, if restaurants see that people don't want the straws, then they will quit buying them. 

When at a sit down restaurant, I thought it safe to assume my drink would come in a real glass. ASSUME NOTHING. There were a couple of times when my drink came in a disposable plastic cup WITH A STRAW. I am not real sure how to avoid this and not be so wasteful. I am not sure how restaurants decide which drinks come in a real glass and which ones come in a disposable cup. If anyone has any ideas, please comment below. 

Lastly, I have learned that when I go to burger joints or just generally restaurants that are more relaxed, they tend to be more wasteful as well. We ate at a restaurant that sells burgers, and when we got our food, the burger came in a basket wrapped in paper and the tater tots came in a separate disposable container. So many fails in that one. The only way I can think of to deter this is to not eat at these locations, which makes me kind of sad. I definitely don't want this zero waste adventure to seem limiting. So if anyone has any thoughts on this as well, please comment below and let me know!

While I do believe I failed multiple times during this trip, I feel like I learned so much as well. I know how I can better equip myself next time to reduce my waste and keep this beautiful world from becoming tainted by trash. If you have any comments or tips and tricks from your own adventures, please comment below.