Day 17: Flying Zero Waste

Now this may seem like an oxymoron given that air travel is TERRIBLE for the enviroment but many of us do it so how can we do it while having the least impact possible?

I’m a Brit who lives in the US so without fail, I do long haul flights twice a year. It hurts my heart to see the insane amounts of waste produced on an airplane so this is what I do to ensure that I add to that as little as humanly possible.

Average trash from one 10 hour flight PER PERSON!


Flight attendants push bottled water like it’s going out of fashion and sadly, usually those plastic bottles are incinerated at the end rather than recycled. Ugh.

I pack my metal waterbottle AND a camelbak.

Once I’m through security the first thing I do is go fill up both to the max from a water fountain or coffee shop. This way I can say no to ALL the drinks they offer me in plasic cups or bottles as I have my own : )


A flight attendant friend said she would never eat plane food knowing how it is prepared, which is even more impetus to bring your own.

Go online and opt out of the meal altogether and pack yourself a delicious (plant-based ideally) spread.

Not only does this ensure you get to eat what you enjoy but if there’s a delay, you’ll be fully stocked up and not relying on the attendants to provide food.

I was once on a flight from Mexico with my 2 young daughters and we sat on the tarmac for 4 hours without moving. I had taken tupperwares down to Mexico with me and had filled them up from the breakfast buffet at the hotel that morning so while everyone else survived over dinner time on one measly granola bar (given out after about 3 hours and a lot of complaining), we feasted on delicious food, had plentiful water and were super comfortable.

I now never fly without my own food and water supply.

Coffee and Tea

Simple ask the flight attendant to fill up the reusable coffee cup you brought with you right from the jug.


Most long haul flights come with a few extras such as blankets wrapped in plastic, headphones wrapped in plastic and maybe even a little toiletry set. Be ahead of the game by bringing your own. I’ve got a super soft giant scarf that acts as a blanket, my own headphones (make sure they have a stereo jack for the flight) and have a toiletry bag with toothbrush, moisturizer, ear plugs, eye mask etc so I can say a resounding no to theirs.

Offset your flight

If your airline offers carbon offsetting, take it and if not, find a carbon offsetting organization and offset your flight directly with them : ) It doesn’t make it guilt free but it certainly makes it better.

And of course don’t forget your ‘Go-Bag‘!

Say Something

Tell the airline how appalled you are with the amount of waste produced. On British Airways they bring a new plastic cup of something around every hour. Why not just let people keep ONE cup and refill it? I write to them every time because hopefully, the more consumers shout, the more they listen.

Challenge 17:

Message an airline and tell them how strongly you feel about the plastic waste they’re producing.

1 million cups are used on airline flights in the US ALONE every SIX HOURS!!!!

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