Kangaroo Beach Lodges, Kangaroo Island, South Australia © South Australian Tourism Commission
Your sustainable packing checklist
Pack well, travel light, and take care of our planet.
One of the easiest ways to travel sustainably in Australia is to pack an eco-minded suitcase or backpack. With a little pre-planning and our top tips, you can journey knowing your footprint here will be as light as a feather.
Light and lovely
Who wants to wrestle with heavy luggage on their holiday? And travelling light will also help to reduce fuel consumption on your flight. Pack only what you need and opt for as many multitasking items as you can. Remember the old travel adage: pack and then remove a third.
Slather on safely
It’s essential to apply sunscreen before you head outdoors in Australia, but not all products are created equally. Unfortunately, chemicals from many common sun-protection creams can seep into the water and disrupt coral reproduction and growth cycles. Try a sunscreen that’s made from mineral sun-blockers instead of chemical ones (avoid anything containing oxybenzone and octinoxate). Brands including People4Ocean, Stream2Sea, Ocean Australia and Bondi Sands all sell reef-friendly sunscreens that you can purchase either online or in your local Aussie supermarket. You can also wear a hat and a rash vest to cover your arms and torso to minimise the need for cream.
The cup that keeps on giving
Disposable coffee cups are decidedly out of favour; in Australia, we bring our own. Coffee is a big deal here, and it’s possible to find a decent flat white (that’s a coffee with milk) anywhere from Cairns to Kalgoorlie. What’s more, many cafés offer a discount to customers who bring their own cup. Consider reusable cups by KeepCup, Huskee or Australian label Frank Green, which are sold at plenty of cafés around the country.
Re-fill on the go
There’s no need to purchase bottled water here. Our tap water is high-quality and there are bottle-filling stations dotted around many public spaces, so remember to pack a reusable bottle. There are plenty of options – try a space-saving collapsible style or a double-walled stainless-steel version to keep your water cool on hot days.
It’s in the bag
According to circular economy charity the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, between five and 13 million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean each year, to then be ingested by seabirds, fish and other marine organisms. Australian supermarkets have banned single-use plastic bags and many retailers no longer offer carry bags. A couple of fabric bags (canvas is good) take up barely any room and will prove indispensable, whether you’re carrying a towel and a book to the beach or picking up groceries.
Be prepared for lunch
It’s easy to quit single-use plastics when you’re well-equipped. The perfect example is cutlery; say no to plastic knives and forks for takeaway meals by bringing your own. It could be an old set from home or a special travel pack that typically includes a bamboo knife, fork and spoon, a set of chopsticks and a stainless-steel straw.
The sun also charges
Treat your hair to a plant-based bar
The environment could do without more plastic bottles, and you could do without having to lug around large plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner. Pack your own bar of soap and try a shampoo bar instead. Most solid shampoos contain plant-based cleansers (derived from plants such as coconut and olive) from sustainable sources. They last for ages, are compact and lightweight, and your hair will thank you for giving it a break from harsh detergents found in many bottled shampoos.
One towel fits all
A lightweight hammam-style towel, like the one made by Australian company Sämmimis, is a great multi-purpose addition to your suitcase. It will dry quickly and can also be used as a scarf, sarong or picnic blanket. Using your own towel rather than taking a new one from your accommodation each time you swim will save on washing — and therefore, wastewater and energy.
Choose natural fabrics
The environmental impact of clothing isn’t just at the manufacturing stage of its life. Laundry is another major factor, not just for the water used, but for the tiny plastic particles that leak out into our rivers and oceans from synthetic clothing. To avoid having to wash your clothes as frequently, pack some clothes made from natural fibres such as merino wool and organic cotton. These can be hung up to air after wearing and won’t smell the way polyester does, meaning fewer washes.