Using the ocean as a compass, Alexandra, author, and co-founder of I Love the Seaside shares some of her day-to-day habits, thoughts, suggestions, and interviews with inspiring seaside people. For this first issue she gives tips on ever-so-handy and planet friendly travel products.
Words: Alexandra Gossink
Living the life I live; I spend a stupendous amount of time at the beach or in the water. It’s a pretty travelicious lifestyle. I’m trading in a comfy appartement close to sea every 3 months or so for a van dwelling life even closer to sea. Two energetic dogs in tow and a chronic need for wave riding. I can safely say I use the ocean as a compass. I consider the beach as my favorite playground. And with that comes a growing responsibility and need to protect what I came to enjoy in the first place.
From dental floss to drinking water, surfboard wax to sunscreen, you’d think everything comes in plastic packaging. Luckily there are lots of alternatives, and you don’t have to compromise on quality. Over the years, I became one of those nerdy types that reads every product label before purchasing. In doing so, I try to avoid products that are tested on animals, the use of palm oil, microplastics or harmful preservatives like parabens. Instead, I learned, the very unsexy sounding naturally derived sodium benzoate and phenoxyethanol are better and safer. Are you making notes? Aren’t there much easier ways to finding a clean-cut path through the jungle of facial cremes, body lotions and sunscreens? Err… though one. Although there are apps like Beat the Microbead from the Plastic Soup Foundation, they’re not 100% guaranteed to finding actual microplastics. That’s because it judges by name, like polymer, but polymers aren’t necessarily all plastics. Long story short? Best to sort out by brand; find lists of brands who are certified and you feel comfortable with to use for your daily routines. Some of my personal favourites from the Beat the Microbead list are Weleda, Seepje, and Naïf. You’ll also find brands that aren’t necessarily certified, but you can check per item. Like another one of my personal favs, Lush and Marcel’s Green Soap. Or, not yet listed but another great Dutch brand: Food for Skin.
The Travel Essentials
Besides the personal care products, I picked up a few handy thangamalongs and uses over the years that are both more durable and travel friendly. They’re not limited to travelling with the van by the way!
Filtering water instead of buying bottled water. We use the Brita water pitcher: a large can with replaceable and recyclable filters. It filters out chlorine, lime scale, lead, and copper out of tap water. Return the filters to any shop that sells the brand. And never buy a plastic water bottle again!
SPF 50+ Aloha plastic-free, vegan, reef safe, and zero waste I’ve tested many, and these sticks are my go-to.
The Wax Comb! For the obvious reasons of not slipping off your board and saving on wax. Repeatedly using the wax comb, and limiting waxing to every now and then, also prevents layers of wax resembling the Rocky Mountains on top of your deck.
While travelling is not environmentally friendly by definition, your daily use of water while travelling with a van however is much less than at home. Unless you’re driving a large truck, the fresh water and grey water tanks in the average homes on wheels are limited to – give or take - 40 to 80 liters. And you’d want that to last as long as possible before filling up.
Using the power of the sun. We’ve a solar panel on the roof of the van, but also use the sunlight to warm up water bottles. Put them out in the sun in the morning and after a surf or swim you have got warm showers to rinse off the salty water.
Choose local markets and bring tote bags! Bringing your own bags while shopping seems like a no-brainer, but the amount of single use plastic you’ll save while shopping is just incredible. Not just at local markets, but also at supermarkets.
My anti-mosquito tip? Put tiny drops of tiger balm onto your ankles, the inside of your knees, elbows, and neck. The little bug(ger)s really do not fancy the smell, and you don’t need any chemicals or sprays.
Carry your reusable coffee mug in your bag for an unexpected take-away coffee.
Surfrider Europe has listed hundreds of Ocean Friendly Restaurants throughout Europe on their site, how convenient! Find them here.
Last but not least, and for obvious reasons: bring your sewing kit ☺.
I hope a few of these tips help you travel more plastic free, and please keep sharing your own tips!