How to pack for a beach vacation without being wasteful

Lauren Corona

Everyone needs time to relax and how better to do so than on a beach vacation. If you're committed to being environmentally conscious, however, you may be concerned about how much waste you'll produce just from one little trip.

Here's the good news: You can find plenty of ways to reduce the amount of waste you produce on vacation and generally make your trip kinder to the environment. These are our tips on how to pack for a beach vacation without being wasteful.

1. Choose reusable and refillable items

Plastic water bottles, travel size toiletries, and carrier bags. It can feel like you're using loads of plastic items that you're only going to throw away. Where possible, choose items that are reusable instead. For instance, bring your own reusable water bottle and coffee cup to keep you happily hydrated, buy refillable travel bottles to decant shower gel or shampoo into, and bring a reusable straw for those cocktails you'll be sipping on the sand.

2. Bring your own snacks

When you think about all the snacks you buy while traveling to your beach destination along with what you take to the beach while you're there, all that waste adds up. Instead, pack your own snacks for the journey in reusable food storage containers. Sandwiches, nuts from the bulk bin, and vegetable sticks are all choices that produce little waste. However, if you're after junk food, buying a large bag of chips or cookies and portioning them out into storage containers for individual snacks uses far less waste than buying small, single-serving packets. Once you reach your holiday destination, you can use these containers to bring your own snacks to the beach.

3. Choose toiletries carefully

We already touched on the idea of decanting large bottles of your regular shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel into travel containers to reduce the amount of plastic waste you use, but there are other options. Consider packing bar soap, and solid shampoo and conditioner bars instead. These produce far less waste than the bottles these products are usually sold in and are great for traveling with.

4. Dig deep in your closet

Buying all new items for your beach vacation is inherently wasteful. Of course, you must buy what you need, but avoid replacing anything that you already have. Instead of buying new flip flops, sun hats, bathing suits, have a thorough search of your closet to find what you already own and might have forgotten about.

5. Pick eco-friendly materials

When choosing new items to take on your beach holiday, try to select those made from eco-friendly materials. Cotton might be natural, but huge amounts of pesticides used in its production mean it isn't a great choice. Instead, consider bamboo or organic cotton.

Beach vacation packing list:

Now that we've discussed how to pack for a beach vacation without being wasteful, what exactly should you bring. This packing list features some essentials along with our product recommendations.

Reusable water bottle: Be sure to pack a reusable water bottle to bring with you to the beach, saving you from buying water in plastic bottles when out and about. We love the Simple Modern Wave Water Bottle because it's made from stainless steel, rather than plastic, and is available in a huge range of colors and patterns.

Reusable straw: If a big part of your relaxing beach vacation will involve having fancy drinks brought to you on your lounger, bringing a reusable straw will avoid waste from plastic straws. Thanks to its compact, telescopic design, the Vantic Portable Reusable Drinking Straw is perfect for travel.

Food containers and snacks: Rather than picking up snacks in the airport or at the gas station, which are often wrapped in single use plastic, pack your own snacks in reusable food containers. You can then use these containers to pack more snacks to take to the beach once you arrive. If you don't have any suitable containers, we'd recommend the Popit! Little Big Box Food Storage Containers due to their locking lids.

Beach towel: If you need a new beach towel for your trip, choose one made from eco-friendly materials, such as Sandy Beaches Organic Cotton Turkish Towel, made from 100% organic cotton.

Solid shampoo: Unlike standard shampoo that must be contained inside a bottle, solid shampoo doesn't require any packaging. Not only does this drastically reduce waste, it's great if you're flying to your beach destination as you don't need to worry about liquid limits. Our favorite shampoo bar is the Ethique Eco-Friendly Solid Shampoo Bar -- it's available in eight varieties for different hair types and each bar is the equivalent of three shampoo bottles.


Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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