A weekend getaway included a green detour when we shopped for picnic supplies at an organic produce store. Our eco-friendly intentions, however, almost stalled when we spotted plastic storage bags in the vegetable aisle. Fortunately, we were prepared with mesh drawstring bags — four for a buck at the dollar store — and a stash of fabric grocery bags.
Going green on family road trips doesn't have to cost a fortune. These thrifty tools will help you with the transition.
Bandanas: At a dollar a pop, bandanas are planet-friendly purchases that serve several functions during vacations. Bandanas can work as napkins, head coverings, face cloths and laptop placemats. What's more, bandanas dry quickly after a thorough hand wash in the hotel sink. Journeywoman.com's Evelyn Hannon has another favorite travel use for bandanas: a dish rag. Tie one to the outside handle of your daypack for easy access.
Containers: How you deal with restaurant leftovers while traveling makes a difference. If a restaurant packs takeout food in plastic or foam packaging, you can substitute disposable food cartons with your own reusable containers. As an affordable alternative to more expensive products, we use glass casserole dishes with snap-on lids and padded carrying cases. These do-it-yourself takeout containers can be found in the kitchen aisle of department stores. Sizes vary, so pick vessels suitable for the size of your family.
Meal kits: We use zippered pouches with carabiner clips to hold individual sets of flatware, chopsticks and reusable stainless steel straws. It's a backpack-to-briefcase solution for daily commuters, school-age children, campers and other travelers. Prepare eco-friendly, frugal meals in your hotel room. Well-stocked kitchens are available at some rental suites or vacation villages. Churchill Suites, for example, stocks its short-term rental suites with plates, flatware and cookware. Access to kitchen supplies enables travelers to prepare and serve meals without the additional costs and waste from paper plates and plastic cutlery.
Refillable bottles: Save money and the environment by bringing refillable bottles to theme parks, zoos and other outdoor entertainment centers. Reusable bottles can be refilled at water fountains, which offer a free and healthy alternative to soft drinks and other beverages sold by park vendors. We also like to travel with our own refillable coffee mugs designed to fit in the beverage holders in our family vehicle. Travel mugs keep us caffeinated on the road and prepared to skip the foam cups from the hotel beverage bar.