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We consume a trillion plastic bags every year.
That’s a scary fact, especially when it’s estimated that it could actually be up to 5 trillion every year. And even more so when you think that those plastic bags are still here.
The world is inundated with plastic pollution, so we need to make changes to lessen our impact on our dear planet.
Especially when we travel.
There’s no denying the benefit of a plastic bag on a traveler’s packing list. Not only are they cheap (we tend to have plenty of them stashed at home), but they help us keep our liquids from spilling, our dirty laundry separate from our clean, and our belongings organized.
They’re great… except they’re not.
The lifetime of a plastic bag – grocery bag or shopping bag – doesn’t last long. They rip and tear rather easily and end up going to the trash, because let’s face it, who has time to recycle when they’re traipsing across the globe?
Luckily, the plastic bag alternatives on the market are growing. With these options, travelers can travel without disposable plastics.
Plastic Bag Alternatives for Shopping
Don’t be tempted by plastic shopping bags when shopping for clothes and souvenirs, or while shopping for the occasional groceries to bring back to your AirBnb. Bring some reusable shopping bags, or even a stuffable backpack, for shopping trips.
If you know you’ll be doing some decent grocery shopping, some mesh baggies for produce will also be useful – and they take up virtually no weight or space. For more usefulness, they can double as lingerie washing bags, or bags to help organize the rest of your packing list belongings.
Here are our top picks for plastic shopping bag alternatives:
Baggu Shopping Bags
Sea to Summit Stuffable Backpack
Onya Mesh Produce Bags
Plastic Bag Alternatives for Toiletries
Sometimes it feels like the only way to protect our luggage from our toiletries is by using ziploc bags. There’s no denying they’re convenient and cheap, but with a few small additions, we can forego the need for short-lived plastic bags.
TSA Ready Toiletry Bags
One big problem revolves around TSA’s requirement of using a clear, quart-sized plastic bag for carry-on toiletries. The easiest option is a ziploc bag.
However, there are several carry-on toiletry bag options on the market to help you stay away from the disposables. Our recommendation would be either of the following:
Tom Bihn’s 3D Clear Organizer Cube
Lewis N. Clark TSA Approved Toiletry Bag
Leak-Proof Toiletry Bottles
Even though they appear to be leak resistant, the toiletries you purchase at the grocery store don’t always come in the best bottles for air travel and pressure changes. The easy thing to do is to toss those bottles into a plastic bag, but you don’t need to worry so much if you invest in quality toiletry bottles.
My favorite is Nalgene’s range of leak-proof bottles. I’ve been using Nalgene in various sizes for over a decade and have never had a leak in all those years.
Nalgene’s travel kit
Soap and Shampoo Bar Storage
Traveling with bar soap or a shampoo bar? Chances are you toss the little guy into a ziploc bag before putting it back in your toiletry kit.
If not, then you probably have a soap container, which can get a little bulky, especially when you probably don’t need all that space once the bar gets used.
An alternative is to use a beeswax wrap to wrap up the soap. Just be sure to let your bar dry off before wrapping it up.
Honeybee Beeswax Wraps
Plastic Bag Alternatives for Clothing
We’ve all seen the packing tips on some websites that show an organized suitcase with each day’s outfits in separate oversized ziploc bags. While that helps you keep your sanity while traveling, it’s a lot of plastic bags that will eventually die and end up out there in the environment.
Instead, invest in packing cubes to organize your clothing (and other belongings) in a more reusable manner. Our favorites at HPL are the Eagle Creek Compressible Pack-It Specter cubes – super lightweight and convenient.
Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes
Our shoes are disgusting. Even if they aren’t covered in mud, they have been out there touching everything on the ground – you know, where people spit and animals use the toilet. Throwing them in a plastic shopping bag before packing them makes perfect sense, but that darn plastic bag is unnecessary.
Invest in shoe bags instead – those that can be washed and reused for years. Our pick would actually be the 3D Zip Set from Baggu as the bigger 2 of the set can be used for shoes, and the smaller one for extra luggage organization.
Baggu 3D Zip Set
Instead of throwing your dirty laundry into a small garbage bag to keep it separated from your clean clothes, try a dedicated and lightweight laundry bag. Or, you can try a double-sided packing cube made especially for the task.
Eagle Creek Pack-It Clean Dirty Cube
Plastic Bag Alternatives for the Rest
For years I stuffed a few extra ziploc bags into my backpack for emergencies. They make great options for storing food, separating trash, and as a backup should my toiletries need some extra attention.
But they’ve got to go for good…
Silicone ziploc bag alternatives are out there, so tossing one of these onto your packing list will provide numerous benefits as you travel. Pack a picnic lunch with a bottle of local wine, prepare some snacks for a long bus trip, or have a make-shift garbage bag as you drive cross-country.
Best of all, they can be washed out, placed in the microwave or freezer, and used thousands of times.
Stasher Silicone Sandwich Bags
Plastic Bag Alternatives Roundup
|Baggu Shopping Bag
|* Long-lasting and versatile.
* Packable and lightweight.
|Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack
|* Fits in palm of hand.
* Great for shopping or as daypack.
|Onya Produce Bags
|* Super lightweight.
* Good for produce or organizing little items in luggage.
|Tom Bihn’s 3D Clear Organizer Cube
|* Small yet sufficient toiletry bag.
* TSA friendly.
|Lewis N. Clark TSA Approved Toiletry Bag
|* Durable carry-on toiletry bag.
* TSA friendly.
|Nalgene’s travel kit
|* Leak-free toiletry bottles.
* Saves need to store toiletries in ziploc bag.
|Honeybee Beeswax Wraps
|* Reusable and eco-friendly.
* Can wrap food or solid toiletries.
|Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes
|* Lightweight and compressible cubes.
* Organize your luggage without plastic bags.
|Baggu 3D Zip Set
|* Great option for shoe bags (larger 2).
* Versatile for organizing.
|Eagle Creek Clean Dirty Cube
|* Store dirty clothes in other half of cube.
* Keeps luggage tidy.
|Stasher Silicone Sandwich Bags
|* Washable, freezable, microwavable.
* Good for food storage and more.