Plastic Problems: Minimising your impact whilst travelling

Children sit amongst plastic waste at a dumpsite in Nakuru.

In just under a month’s time, the UN will be holding a summit on Climate Action, to discuss how countries around the globe can come together to tackle climate change.

One way in which countries have been working to combat the issue is through issuing constraints on the usage and distribution of plastic products. Microbeads and straws are only a couple of the items which have had bans and restrictions imposed upon them in a bid to save the environment.

However, when we think of the problem with plastic, the image which usually springs to mind is that of the humble plastic bag. With plastic pollution being a topic at the forefront of the news in recent times, the introduction of the plastic bag charge could be viewed as the biggest step made in the UK, so far, towards tackling the problem.

Whilst this may feel relatively new, countries throughout Africa have been huge drivers of the regulation of plastic bags from as early as 2005. We previously wrote an article about the introduction of a plastic bag ban in Tanzania. In Kenya – one of our destinations – a total ban has been imposed on the distribution of plastic bags, where anyone found ‘selling, manufacturing, or carrying’ them could face a hefty fine or even a prison sentence.

The Hilton Dumpsite has significant amounts plastic.
Many of our Kenyan partner projects are located near Hilton Dumpsite.

According to an article published this week by the BBC, the effects of the ban have been positive, with less plastic being found by abattoirs inside cattle, and a significantly reduced amount of plastic found in more rural environments (as a result of being blown there by the wind).

­Whilst this is great news, there’s still a lot to be done. It’s been quite a tumultuous time over the past few weeks, what with the Amazon burning and reports that the Great Barrier Reef is in further decline.  There are a few steps you can take as a volunteer to minimise the impact you have on the environment whilst out on your trip:

Re-usable water bottles

An item with significant advantages both at home and during your travels. They will save you money (up to £200 per year!), are more durable than your standard single-use water bottle, and you won’t be at risk of coming into contact with harmful chemicals which can be emitted in hot weather by single-use plastic bottles.

Shampoo and soap bars

By using bar alternatives for your body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and moisturiser, you’re investing in an eco-friendly alternative beyond just avoiding plastic. As the products themselves are smaller, your carbon footprint will be reduced significantly, as less transportation is needed to get them to the shops to be sold. Furthermore, these bars are often made with wholly natural ingredients, meaning you don’t have to worry about what goes down the drain.

Pig eating plastic rubbish
Problems caused by plastic are not just down to how long it takes to decompose. Another problem is that animals often mistake it for food.

Return with your rubbish

This may sound silly. However, by keeping hold of your rubbish (after cleaning it) and taking it home with you where it can be properly disposed of, you can be sure that your waste is being handled responsibly.

African Adventures is committed to protecting the environment in every aspect of our business operations, whether it’s through responsible, sustainable purchasing, or through offsetting the carbon emissions caused by flights. Read more about our commitment to eco-friendly practices.


The following websites were used in the creation of this article –

https://uk.lush.com/article/its-easy-being-green-five-steps-towards-going-plastic-free

https://www.thisisyugen.com/how-to-minimise-your-environmental-impact-whilst-traveling/