Food waste is the biggest hurdle when traveling.
It’s essential, but also the most wasteful part of any adventure. We packed our reusable takeaway containers, metal straws, coffee mugs, cutlery, and carry bags, but also pre-planned our strategy around water, snacks, and main meals.
Unlike New Zealand, the tap water in Fiji is not drinkable.
I came prepared with my Steripen that treats water with a UV light (this has been my magic wand through India and South East Asia!), but we ended up boiling water in our accommodation, meaning everyone on the trip had waste-free water too! Twice a day we boiled the kettle and poured the clean water into a large pot to cool. Once cool, we filled the jug in the fridge and everyone’s water bottles.
To save money and ensure we had snacks that were gluten-free (I am coeliac), we bought snacks with us from New Zealand.
I usually make my own waste-free snacks at home, but everything had to be sealed and packaged for immigration. I chose New Zealand made, organic, and compostable packaged snacks as much as possible. Our chocolate and potato chips were packaged in home compostable packaging that came home with us so we could compost it correctly.
Although eating out can look waste-free, waste is always created behind the scenes in the restaurant kitchen. I prefer not to eat out to reduce waste and save money.
At the beginning of our trip, my husband and I caught the local bus and ventured out to the bustling farmer’s markets. We stocked up on fruit, vegetables, and a few herbs and spices to cook stir-fries and homemade taro chips all week. When I ate out, I tried my best to choose a meat-free or vegan option if they offered one, kept all the napkins they gave me to reuse over and over, asked for no straw, and took my leftovers home in my containers.
The purpose of our family holiday was to relax and unwind, spend time in the water, and connect.
That’s exactly what we did. No shopping, no tours, simply creating fun together with packs of cards and the ocean! The enjoyment you can have with great company and simple games, is endless.
Being an eco-fashion enthusiast, I also couldn’t help but venture out for a day to visit a non-for-profit organisation, Rise Beyond The Reef.
The husband and wife duo employ 300+ women in hard to reach villages who create beautiful lifestyle products that are sold online and in stores around Fiji. We laughed and chatted with the handful of sewers who were on-site, and purchased some much-needed cloth napkins; a souvenir that is helpful, waste-free, and will remind us of our holiday and these wonderful makers at every mealtime.
Traveling with a conscience does require some compromises.
You must respect the culture you are visiting, honour the people you are traveling with, all while balancing your sustainable values and never permitting guilt to rob you of enjoyment.
Although traveling with no thought of your footprint, zero reusables, and lack of consideration for carbon credits is not okay, traveling with compromise and sustainable strategy is definitely achievable. My family holiday to Fiji was amazing. I’m glad I didn’t say no.