Zero Waste

Zero Waste On-the-Road!

Since embarking on my zero waste journey last spring, I’ve done several successful road trips without creating waste.  In September, we circled Iceland for our honeymoon with zero (to minimal) waste.  In October, we made the drive from Illinois to Georgia with zero waste.  On Thursday, my husband and I drove from Champaign, Illinois to Grand Rapids, Michigan (my in-law’s) for Christmas.  That’s 6 hours on the road with no waste.  Here are some tips for you if you are thinking about reducing your waste on the road this holiday season.

Food and Drinks

This would obviously be the biggest category.  I naturally associate road trips with stuffing my face full of food.  Here are three tips that I have regarding food:

  1. Drinks:  my husband and I always prepare 2 drinks (each) for the road.  One reusable water bottle and 1 thermos for hot drinks (which we will fill with coffee before hitting the road).  I highly recommend bringing a thermos on the road since it can keep your hot drinks hot for up to 12 hours.  We are big coffee drinkers, especially when we are driving.  Should we need to stop at a gas station or coffee shop for a refill, we can use our thermos to get our refill.
  2. Snacks:  I packed sacks of bulk nuts and snacks, and I kept them in the mesh bags (just so they don’t take up much room once we are done eating them).  I just make sure I only pack enough to last us for the trip.  If it is a longer trip, I would pack them in airtight containers.
  3. Meals:  I noticed the biggest waste we’d create on the road would be if we stopped at McDonald’s or Subway for a meal.  To eliminate that waste, I packed sandwiches (wrapped in cloth).  The cotton cloth would serve as a napkin after we eat.  If you have the time, I’d suggest going to a sit-down restaurant.


I totally take advantage of the free squeegee at the gas station to give our windshield a quick clean while we’re pumping gas.  We opt for no receipt, and just make a note of the cost on our phones for our own accounting purposes.


We are big fans of audiobooks.  We download them straight to our phones and plug the phone in the car AUX jack.  Or we play music from our iPods.

It is a lot easier to make zero or less waste when traveling by car.  But should we ever create any sort of waste, we hold on to it until we reach our destination, where we recycle or compost the waste.

I hope this is helpful to you as you embark on your next road trip to make less waste.  Happy holidays! :)


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