My Zero Waste Travel Fail
I was recently in Mauritius, it’s such a beautiful Island. The Mauritians have kept their Island clean and beautiful. When I spent time at the beach, I had to actively look out for trash instead of it just being everywhere. Still, EVERYTHING, on that island comes wrapped in some form of plastic.
I left Mumbai thinking I was going to be one of those Zero-Waste travelers I see all over Instagram, shopping in bulk stores and leaving behind no trail of trash. I packed my little kit for the trip, two bamboo glasses, wooden spoons, knife, fork, a steel tin with a sliced up baguette and another box with cheese. On the flight, I had them refill my steel thermos with water and rejected the inflight meal – opting for me bread and cheese feast instead. More positives: I didn’t use the airline blanket, headphones and said no to the small care package they were handing out to all the passengers. Things were going well, and I was super proud of myself. I was travelling with my husbands family, and there were 8 of us on the trip, including one very excited 4 year old.
Full disclosure, I have created more trash in the one week I was on holiday than I have in the last 2 months. Here are all my fails, because I think it’s just as important to document losses:
1. We went to Ile Aux Cerfs for the day and I couldn’t resist having a glass of soda – which came in a plastic bottle
2. Having lunch on the beach, we ordered fresh coconut water, all of which came with a straw despite repeated requests for no straw. Fresh juices came in plastic cups with straws too.
3. Lunch on the beach came in styrofoam clamshell boxes. I asked for plates, but they thought it would be better to serve us in the boxes to help keep the food warm. I had carried my cups so I finally managed to have a plastic free beverage, but since I’d carried only 2 cups, everyone else obviously got theirs in plastic
4. EVERYTHING at the supermarket came in some form of packaging, even the organic veggies were shrink wrapped. Fresh cut cheese was shrink wrapped. The only thing I managed to find in glass was some ridiculously expensive orange juice
5. We were staying in a villa and they only had one trash can – for everything. My compost loving heart broke each time I threw something out
6. There is absolutely no filtered water available in Mauritius, i went through a lot of 500ml bottles before I found a 5 liter bottle at the Supermarket which I used to refill my steel thermos
I’m off to Europe right now and this is what I learned from all my fails:
1. When you travel with people, make sure your zero waste kit can accommodate everyone. Others may not make the effort to carry things, but if you have plates, cups or snacks, everyone is happy to use them
2. Do your research. I went on this trip thinking things were like they are here. I didn’t make a list of bulk stores in my area, or places I could drop off recycling
3. Don’t get lazy. It’s easy to slack off on a holiday. I forgot to carry my kit on the first day out and felt guilty all day
Some thoughts on Mauritius:
1. Mauritius is beautiful, tis was my second trip there and I’m excited to go back
2. Diving is beautiful, so much fish life, it’s like an aquarium. Sadly alot of the hard coral was covered in Algae and I heard most of it under there is bleached on the shallower reefs. On the other hand. The soft coral is this beautiful pastel pink shade, when offset against the turquoise waters looks totally otherworldly. I dove with Blue Water Divers, recommended to me by Lacadives. The diving experience with them as always was amazing (I did my advanced open water PADI certification with them last year). The instructors are very attentive and made sure I was completely comfortable.
3. We finally fixed my buoyancy problem, turns out that even the XXS BCD is a bit loose on me. Pierre, my instructor undid my equipment underwater and criss crossed the shoulder straps finally making the equipment snug. After that I was like a fish. I’ve never been this comfortable diving before. Goes to show, how having well fitted equipment and experienced instructors can make a world of a difference
4. I saw a whale! Ok, it was just the tail and it was out in the distance and it was only for 30 seconds, but that was pretty much the coolest thing. Getting in the water with them is on my bucket list, but I definitely need to get a lot more comfortable diving before I do
5. Oh, and I used Reef Safe Sunscreen for the first time. Regular sunscreen will sometimes give me hives around my chin, so all these years I was using the hypoallergenic kind made for teeny tiny babies. This one worked pretty well, but required a bit more dilligence in reapplication, but totally didn’t bother my skin. Converted for life
6. Here are some pictures, because look at how beautiful it all is!