The 8 Best Zero-Waste Travel Items of 2021

See the planet and be kind to it too

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown
Ditch the travel-sized tubes of toothpaste for a toothpaste tablet made from clean ingredients.
Best Shampoo/Conditioner Combo Bar:
Wildland Organics The Super Bar at Wildlandorganics.com
Lavender, palo santo, and sage oils combine for a calming scent that’s perfect for using after a long day of traveling.
The kit rolls up perfectly for easy storage and the bamboo utensils are made from 100 percent untreated bamboo.
This 7-ounce, stainless steel container is perfect for stowing those small but important things that you need to keep handy.
Internal compression straps and an elastic divider panel help you stay organized while exploring.
Best Snack Container:
Eco-Life Edo Box at Amazon
The bento box, made from wheat fiber, has five compartments, meaning you can mix and match your snack options.
This pillow from NEMO weighs less than 3 ounces and packs down as small as a lime.
Best Reusable Water Bottle:
Klean Kanteen Insulated TKPro 32 oz at Amazon
Leak proof and chip-resistant, this hot and cold water bottle is ideal for bringing on the road.

When planning a trip, we often mainly think about our adventures ahead: long days on the beach, wandering the cobblestone streets of a small town, or hiking through the wilderness. The packing part of travel—and what types of containers were using for packing—usually takes a backseat to trip planning. 

Sustainable travel includes thinking about many aspects of our journeys, and being conscious about how we pack and what we’re bringing with us can help reduce single-use plastics consumption tremendously. That's especially true in the travelsphere, which is spewing with disposable airline cups, plastic utensils and water bottles, and throw-away shampoo bottles. In a single year alone, we produce 300 million tons of plastic, half of which is for single-use plastics. Tucking a few helpful items into our luggage can help avoid much of it.

Below, you'll find the best zero-waste travel items that you’ll feel good about taking on your next adventure.

Best Toothpaste Tabs: Bite Fresh Mint Toothpaste Bits

Bite Toothpaste Bits - Fresh Mint

Unfortunately, those tubes of toothpaste we’ve all used our entire lives are a big contributor to the single-use plastics problem in our world. Each year, about a billion toothpaste tubes end up in landfills across the world. 

Ditch the plastic travel-sized tubes of toothpaste for Bite, a toothpaste tablet made with clean, vegan ingredients and a non-toxic fluoride alternative that’s been proven to remineralize tooth enamel. The tablets come in a refillable glass jar, and are shipped in plastic-free and recyclable packages.

To use, simply bite down on the tablet, and brush with a wet toothbrush as you normally would. The tablet foams up similar to regular toothpaste, and is super easy to carry for traveling.

Best Shampoo/Conditioner Combo Bar: Wildland Organics The Super Bar

The Super Bar

Swap the shampoo, conditioner, and body wash bottles for this all-in-one bar that works for all three. Lavender, palo santo, and sage oils combine for a clean, calming scent that’s perfect for using after a long day of traveling.

Most of the ingredients in the bar are certified organic, and the packaging is all post-consumer recycled paper. The bar itself is completely biodegradable. Wildland Organics is an active member of 1% For The Planet, with 1 percent of sales going to preserve American wildlands. The company is working towards a third-party organic certification, but holds all of its ingredients to an organic standard.

Best Utensils: Bewbow Bamboo Utensils Cutlery Set

Bamboo utensils

Say goodbye to single-use plastic airline cups, cutlery, straws, and even chopsticks and plastic toothbrushes. This utensil set from Bewbow has everything you need including a serrated knife, fork, spoon, chopsticks, straw, cleaning brush, and an activated charcoal toothbrush. 

The kit rolls up perfectly for easy storage in your carry-on bag, purse, or suitcase. The bamboo utensils are made from 100 percent untreated bamboo, cultivated without pesticides or fertilizers—a perk for the environment and your body. The set is also completely BPA free. To clean, wash off food residue with clean water and set the utensils out to dry.

Best Reusable Small Container: U Konserve Big Mini Steel Container

U Konserve Big Mini Steel Container

Need a small container for your pills? Or perhaps a small case for jewelry or hair ties? This 7-ounce, stainless steel container is perfect for stowing those small but important things that you need to keep handy. You could even use this small container for snack items like nuts, berries, or granola. 

The container is BPA-free, phthalate free, and lead free. Stainless steel is 100 percent recyclable in metal recycling. U Konserve is the brainchild of two moms striving to be as eco-friendly as possible by creating long-lasting, reusable products to keep waste out of landfills, and changing the behavior of using wasteful plastics.

Best Packable Bag: REI Co-op Beyonder Weekender Bag

REI Co-op Beyonder Weekender Bag

Hit the road with ease with this bag from REI. It features a laptop sleeve (up to 15 inches) with external access and a removable roll-top pouch to keep dirty clothes and gear separate. 

Internal compression straps and an elastic divider panel help you stay organized while exploring, and the bag meets carry-on restrictions for most airlines. Padded shoulder straps help keep your back comfortable while carrying the bag, and the straps can be repositioned for what suits you best. The bag is made using Bluesign-approved materials, which conserve resources and help protect environmental health, workers, and the wearer.

Best Snack Container: Eco-Life Edo Box

Eco-Life Edo Box

Leave those plastic airport containers full of salads, fruits, cheeses, cookies, and other snacks back in the terminal. It’s easy, healthier, and more eco-friendly to bring your own snack container, and this one from Eco-Life is perfect for traveling. Just note that some fresh foods can't be carried across international borders, so be sure to check what's permitted at your destination before you pack your snacks!

The bento box, made from wheat fiber, has five compartments, meaning you can mix and match your snack options without them touching each other or getting soggy. The box can fit 100 ounces of food inside and comes with a fork and knife, also made from wheat fiber. The inner-locking lid creates an air-tight seal to keep food fresh, and is also great for traveling and avoiding spills inside a bag. 

Best Pillow: NEMO Fillo Elite Pillow

NEMO Fillo Elite Pillow

Made from recycled materials, this pillow from NEMO weighs less than 3 ounces and packs down as small as a lime, making it ideal for backpackers or those needing to save space in a suitcase or carry-on bag. The pillow inflates easily and can be used as a lumbar support pillow on an airplane, road trip, or in a tent in the backcountry. 

The soft jersey cover is easy to wash and has a cooling feel, and a layer of 100 percent post-consumer recycled PrimaLoft insulation combines with a 3-inch I-beam air cell for the ultimate comfort and support. The pillow is covered by a lifetime warranty.

Best Reusable Water Bottle: Klean Kanteen Insulated TKPro 32 oz

Klean Kanteen Insulated TKPro 32 oz

With all of the motion involved in travel, one of the best waste-reducing things you can do is bring along a reusable bottle and fill up with beverages along the way. Unless you're traveling somewhere without potable water on tap, it allows you to avoid using single-use plastic water bottles and disposable coffee cups.

This one from Klean Kanteen is plastic free and can keep liquid hot for up to 38 hours and iced for 100 hours. The stainless steel construction doesn’t create any weird tastes or flavors, and liquids like coffee or soups don’t have lingering scents in the bottle after the contents are gone. The bottle is also leak proof and chip-resistant, and is double-wall vacuum insulated with an internal thread design to increase thermal performance.

Final Verdict

If you want to avoid single-use plastics while traveling, we say the cutlery travel set (view at Amazon) and reusable water bottle (view at Amazon) are both must-haves that are super affordable and easy to store while traveling.

On that same note, the snack container (view at Amazon) is our next packing suggestion, as it also helps you avoid single-use plastics, but also gives you a way to carry fresh, healthy snacks along with you.

Why Trust Treehugger

Treehugger is committed to help our readers reduce the environmental impact of our day-to-day lives. Author Amanda Ogle is a veteran reporter who loves writing about sustainability and believes it is important that we all strive to be as environmentally friendly as we can. She often writes about travel, and loves to show readers that it is possible to see the world while also remaining environmentally friendly.