Lifestyle,  Waste

Zero Waste Travel Tips: Japan

Evelyn is one of my oldest and dearest friends. She is a constant inspiration. She can tell you the name of ever type of cloud and what each plant in your vege garden is good for. 

Evelyn recently traveled to Japan for 3.5 weeks and was lovely enough to let me quiz her about how she went about reducing waste on her holiday! Read about her travels below.

Feature Interview: Zero Waste Travel Tips for Japan

What did you pack for the trip?

45L backpack as carry on which consisted of: clothes, toiletries, hiking shoes, travel adaptor, towel, tea strainer, book, smaller backpack, napkins, handkerchief, jar, coffee cup, headphones, neck pillow and drink bottle.

What did you pack in your backpack each day? And what was each item for? 

  • 2 x cloth bags – for goodies and fruit
  • Reusable chopsticks – for eating
  • Napkin – to wipe my grubby self after eating 
  • A handkerchief – blowing nose 
  • Reusable coffee cup/jar- usually for drinks, sometimes snacks
  • Stainless steel drink bottle – water/green tea
  • 1 x large onya bag/backpack(sometimes 2 depending on what I’m doing for the day) – general use of carrying things I’ve bought and to put shoes in, to go into temples or places of worship

What did you take on the plane?

I made sandwiches and put them into the cloth bags. I also took some macadamias, choc covered coffee beans, dark chocolate, turkish delight and chili lime almonds.

What have you been eating while you’re out and about? Is it hard to find waste free food?

Sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming (especially in Japan) and feels like everything is in plastic, or wrapped in some sort of one use packaging, to either make it look cool/cute or for convenience. I try to find markets and fresh fruit and veggies when I can and eat them on the go. Then again, I still feel like I’m making waste because I’m traveling, and staying in Air BnB’s that don’t have a way of composting. So at first my green waste was going in with all other non recyclables, which was being incinerated or buried. So I started to buy things that I would use the whole of and have no off cuts to dispose of. I’ve made sandwiches for lunches a few days as well.

Have you bought anything in bulk?

I’ve found heaps of local street food stalls that I’ve snatched up at any opportunity, things like dried fruit, rice crackers and flavoured nuts are my favourite. I can’t help myself but to buy all the red bean paste filled Japanese sweets as well. And a few of the confectionery stores have let me fill my jar or cloth bag. I also bought some green tea leaves in a big metal container.

lollies in a cup

Improvising on the go. Lollies from a confectionery store in my reusable coffee cup!

What was the best meal you ate and how much did it cost in Australian dollars? 

Best meal I’ve eaten so far was a bbq tapas style feed. It consisted of edamame, tempura vegetables, vegetable gyoza, udon noodles, rice, salad, miso, teriyaki tofu & dipping sauce. It all cost me around $12 AUD!

Where will your next trip be?

Not 100% sure, thinking either Canada or South America next year sometime!


Wondering what steps you can take to live a lower impact lifestyle? Head to my zero waste archives to find inspiration like this DIY toothpaste and these DIY makeup remover rounds!

Leave a Reply