Ocean Bottle's Insider Guide to Sustainable Travel

From conscious travel checklists to greenwashing traps to avoid, here are some top tips for a responsible (read: guilt-free) holiday.

Fighting plastic pollution can often feel like a thankless task: luckily, Ocean Bottle is here to up the ante. Founded in 2018 by Will Pearson and Nick Doman, the reusable-bottle brand funds the collection of 1,000 ocean-bound plastic bottles in weight with every purchase, so customers are not only reducing their own plastic waste, but the planet's, too. Plus, the entrepreneurial duo's innovative exchange platform allows locals in coastal communities to turn plastic collection into a long-term, sustainable livelihood. In short, this is hydration with a whole lot of heart.

Because Ocean Bottle knows a thing or two about making a real impact where it matters, we sat down with the team to talk all things sustainable travel. Here, we share the experts' advice on minimising our impact when on the move.

Now that the world is opening up again, we're desperate to travel but mindful of our footprint. What three things can we do to travel more sustainably?

Our top three tips would be:

Consider how you get to your destination. There are plenty of options that don't involve taking a flight that will lower your overall carbon footprint, such as taking the train, boat or bus.

Choose a destination that values sustainability - one, for example, that makes use of solar power, recycling or energy-efficient buildings.

Sustainable travel is not only about emissions and materials, it's also about how travelling impacts the local community, including when it comes to staffing and workers' rights. We recommend doing your research when choosing your destination.

What should be on our checklist when planning a sustainable holiday?

Being on holiday shouldn't give you a licence to forget about your environmental footprint and there are plenty of things you can do to make a difference. A staple on our checklist would, of course, be to bring your Ocean Bottle to minimise your single-use plastic consumption and help in keeping you hydrated.

Any essentials we should think about packing?

We'd recommend packing reef-safe sunscreen, bringing a reusable bag for your shopping and a food container for making your own lunch.

What destinations should we have on our radar for sustainable travel?

Norway is one of the leading countries in terms of sustainability practices: almost all of the country's domestic electricity comes from hydropower, and it has the highest electric vehicle adoption in the world, so it's the perfect place for a sustainable road trip.

Sweden is another sustainability trailblazer: most of Gothenburg's public transport runs off renewable energy, and several hotels in the city have been awarded environmental diplomas.

Finally, Ocean Bottle will soon be launching plastic-collection initiatives in Colombia, a country which is leading the way in community-driven enterprises for low-income communities.

We've arrived at our destination and there are no recycling points in sight. What should we do?

If it's a short trip, we'd recommend holding on to your rubbish until you come across a recycling point. If that's not possible, try to minimise your waste consumption by carrying reusable products and avoid any unnecessary purchases. It's these small changes that add up to make a significant difference.

We want to help with the fight against ocean plastic but don't know where to start. What do you suggest?

A simple first step would be to purchase an Ocean Bottle. Not only will this stop you buying single-use plastic bottles, but we'll also collect 1,000 ocean-bound plastic bottles in weight on your behalf (as we do with every Ocean Bottle purchased), so you'll be reducing the amount of plastic that ends up in our oceans, too.

Does carbon offsetting make a difference?

Yes, carbon offsetting can help in the fight against climate change, however, it should be a last resort, and its benefits vary hugely depending on the project. Planting mangroves with community-led initiatives is one strong way of offsetting carbon, as the trees are able to absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide, while also providing nurseries for fish in coastal regions.

How can we encourage our friends to travel more sustainably?

Show them that it isn't as hard as they think, and remind them that small changes really do make a big difference.

What's one trap we should be avoiding if we want to travel more responsibly?

Be aware of potential greenwashing with certain "ecotourism" schemes. Do your research beforehand to ensure that the places where you're staying practice what they preach. Bouteco is a great resource for finding trustworthy sustainable hotels.

What's next in the fight against ocean plastic?

Ending the flow of plastic into the ocean is a great challenge, and we're currently still moving in the opposite direction. Ocean plastic is expected to quadruple by 2040. We can, however, easily make a big dent in this with funds and global action for local recycling and waste-management infrastructures around the world. To do so, there will need to be regulation and action from governments and, of course, a reduction in virgin plastic production globally.

How would you like the world to start managing plastic waste in the future?

We have produced more than enough plastic to meet the world's needs many times over, and we need to begin to halt the production of virgin plastic and increase the value of plastic waste to ensure it is collected and properly recycled. Then, we'll be able to build a future where we are able to use this incredible material without damaging the planet.

We want to volunteer in ocean conservation. Where should we look?

We recommend checking out Go Eco in your search for ocean conservation projects to get involved in. There are so many to choose from, and they're all impacting our ocean positively.

What's next for Ocean Bottle?

Our pledge is to fund plastic collection that is equivalent to seven billion plastic bottles by 2025. In the shorter term, we're aiming to fund the collection of three million kilograms of ocean-bound plastic by the end of 2021, which is equivalent to 188 million plastic bottles. So far, we're over halfway to reaching our goal.

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