This past week was a super important one for school music programs in Maine. The All State music festival happened during the second half of last week and with us both being music teachers we were away from home from Wednesday morning to Saturday evening. This means we had to spend a bunch of days in Bangor surrounded by amazing musical experiences… awe shucks!
While it would have been really easy to just pack our clothes and go we decided to try to travel very “green”. We wanted to limit our waste and carbon imprint as much as possible while also enjoying the awesome food and sights that Bangor has to offer. Oh yea, there was also that whole “be proud of three of Jon’s students who auditioned and were accepted into one of the highest honor ensembles a high school musician in Maine could be a part of”… that was important too!
Traveling green all starts with how your pack. You’re less likely to have to buy anything and therefore save money, a bag, or packaging if you leave home prepared. Some things we made sure we left with were some snacks, reusable bags, reusable silverware, reusable mugs/water bottles, and toiletries/first aid. You’d be surprised how much that accomplishes just by packing those few things in advance.
1. Snacks. This is not only a good way to save some money but also a good way to make sure you’re eating healthy non-processed foods. If you pack some fruit, some nuts (in reusable bags), or maybe some granola you’ve saved yourself some money, a stop at a store, and eating things that need to be shelf stable and therefore full of extra ingredients. It may not be possible to bring enough snacks for an entire trip but every little bit helps.
2. Reusable bags. This was a big one for us this trip. We brought a reusable grocery bag and a reusable cooler bag. Since Bangor is a major shopping stop for staple items both these bags got used this trip. We keep a collapsible grocery bag in each of our cars and try to always bring it with us when we have to run to the store. The cooler bag is not something we bring as often but since Bangor is where we get some refrigerated items it worked really well for this trip. This step along saved us from almost all plastic bags over a four day trip away from home! Anything we bought we asked for no bag and just threw it into the ones we brought. This also made unpacking easier since everything was already consolidated to one bag!
3. Reusable Silverware – We each have a small set of bamboo utensils. These come in handy if we are eating on the go (which is common when traveling) so you can avoid plastic utensils. A lot of places will give you real plates but plastic utensils, or will give you the option of plastic or silverware. When we used our own we didn’t have to take plastic or dirty any extra dishes. They are also great for a picnic!
4. Reusable Mug/Water Bottle. This was the biggest saver all around this trip. We each brought water bottles and Klean Kanteen tumblers for this trip. Jon drinks A LOT of coffee but for this trip took zero paper or Styrofoam cups! The mugs do a great job of keeping your beverage hot (or cold) and most places will refill a mug for cheaper than getting a paper or foam one. I think refills at Bagel Central are like 90 cents or something like that! Good for the planet and good for the wallet!
5. Toiletries/First Aid Kid. We travel with a wash kit full of green items. We do our best to avoid using hotel stuff for the plastic/potentially non-vegan-ness of the items. Some vegans do not worry about this as much but since this post is about traveling green it’s worth mentioning. Also, it’s always good to be prepared. Jon got a cut on his hand away from the hotel and was able to use a band-aid from his travel pack.
Was this a perfect trip? No. There was still some packaging and waste created. It was a very good trip though. It was great to feel proud of Jon’s students but also of ourselves as we work towards being our version of the best people we can be. We have a few more trips planned in near future so we will definitely be making them as green as we can. Gotta take care of Mother Earth!