Zero Waste Wins and Fails in NYC

Hi guys! Here are some of my Zero Waste victories and losses while I was on holiday in New York. Next time I go somewhere I can learn from my mistakes.


  • No Plastic Bags: Refused all the plastic bags they automatically give out in shops. Had a reusable bag for food shopping and for buying books etc.
  • No Plastic Bottles: Didn’t buy any plastic bottles of water or fizzy drinks. Carried a reusable water bottle which could be filled up at drinking fountains in museums and in some shops or restaurants. Bought cans of fizzy drinks that could be easily recycled.
  • Returned Museum Maps: Returned museum floor plans to information desks after I was finished with them. Saw so many of these in the bins on the way out although they could easily be reused.
  • Ate Vegan: The most planet-friendly way to eat!
  • Zero Waste Supplies: Got an eco haul of ZW goodies in Lush.
  • Airbnb: It is far more resource efficient to stay in an Airbnb private room than in a hotel. You avoid all the single use toiletries, the daily cleaning and energy use of a hotel. Also saves a lot of $$$! Read more about how eco-friendly Airbnb is here.
  • Subway: We used public transport instead of cabs, another efficient way to save a lot of money, get around quickly and soak up the city atmosphere.


  • Flight check-in: I couldn’t check in on the airline app so had to do it on the website and print the boarding pass instead of being able to show the boarding pass on my phone at the airport. No paperless check-in for me 😦
  • Airplane food: A main meal, a piece of bread, butter, a dessert tub, a salad and plastic cutlery, all individually packaged in plastic. 😦 Drinks were also served in plastic cups. You had to prebook vegetarian/vegan meals so I had to choose from chicken/beef so opted for chicken and traded my chicken for the potatoes of my travelling companion instead. 🙂 Apparently uneaten food on flights gets dumped so I didn’t think there was much point refusing it.
  • Leftovers:Not finishing food in restaurants and getting it to go in plastic/cardboard containers. I really have to try harder to not order too much food! I often never even get round to eating the leftovers so they go to waste too… I should be more minimalist when it comes to food methinks-less is more!
  • Smoothie: I succumbed to the temptation to get a smoothie from a street stall. Came in plastic with a straw. The guy being served in front of me got a ‘flawed’ (?) straw and threw it on the ground, then got another straw!
  • Straws: In restaurants and bars they automatically give you a straw with most drinks and I forgot to ask for them to not give me a straw a few times 😦 They also sometimes give you straws in shops when you buy a drink but these are easily refused.

I can be greener next time! How do you make travelling more eco-friendly?


4 thoughts on “Zero Waste Wins and Fails in NYC

  1. Kelley says:

    I think it sounds like you had more victories than defeats! The straw thing is a hard beast to tame, for sure. The only thing I can think of that I do that could be considered eco-friendly travel is I try to pack super light. If every passenger cut the the weight of their suitcases we’d weight a lot less on an airplane burning a crap-load of fuel to get us airborne!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anna Seize the World says:

    I think some airlines have ‘normal’ cutlery. I’m pretty sure Emirates doesn’t have plastic cutlery and they package them in paper wrapping. When it comes to airplane food I’m a junkie. I love it 😀 But i feel so guilty because of all the waste :/


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