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Leave only footprints

As thoughts turn to summer holidays, you may be thinking about how to reduce your environmental impact during your break. Plastic waste is the biggie, but many of the products we take away with us also contain palm oil, which is implicated in habitat destruction, and other nasties like chemicals that are toxic to wildlife and sometimes to us. Here are my top ten suggestions for easy substitutions for travel necessities.

1. Reef-friendly suncream. Shade make highly effective SPF25 suncream containing just four mostly organic ingredients, packaged in aluminium tins. The active ingredient is zinc oxide, in non-nano form which makes it more effective against long wave UVA light and also considered better for health. I take both sizes - the 100ml for the beach and 15ml in my handbag.

2. Natural deodorant. Conventional deodorants can contain many nasties, from aluminium to parabens and the vast majority have at least some plastic in their packaging. Their are three main types of natural deodorants - magnesium crystal, cream and stick. Ecobeagle stocks all three and since all are 100% plastic-free and palm oil-free it's largely a matter of personal choice which you prefer to use. This mini-guide may help.

3. Travel soap bar. I like to travel light so I love a multi-purpose product. Friendly Soap's travel bar is suitable for skin, hair and laundry and I pop mine in an aluminium tin that used to contain sweets. As well as being palm oil free, Friendly soaps are hand made and free from SLS and parabens … they are very effective and smell lovely too.

4. Re-usable facial rounds. Instead of disposable cotton wool balls or pads, I prefer to use these which come in a set of 16 - enough for a two week holiday - in a mesh bag. They are soft and generously sized, and they can be machine washed in the bag so they are really convenient.

5. Bamboo cotton buds. I've experimented with cardboard cotton buds but I find the stem annoyingly bendy so I've switched to bamboo which gives a very similar user experience to plastic ones but are biodegradable.

6. Bamboo tooth brush. Since we are recommended to use them for no more than three months before replacement, plastic toothbrushes are a major source of plastic waste. Although the nylon bristles have to be disposed of separately (and not all local councils recycle them) the handle is biodegradable.

7. Toothbrush tablets. Toothpaste manufacturers are very late to the plastic-free party, but toothbrush tablets are a good alternative. Mine come in a compact, re-usable aluminium tin containing a month's supply and are fluoride-free.

8. Re-usable straws. We all like a holiday cocktail or two, and many are more enjoyable with a straw. I find paper straws are no match for a glass full of crushed ice but stainless steel ones are ideal. These come in a durable cotton pouch with a cleaning brush; they are dishwasher proof too.

9. Re-usable drinks containers. Thankfully these are now readily available and you almost certainly have some already. Don't forget to pack them … unless you are travelling to somewhere the water isn't safe to drink (in which case you still have the option of water purification tablets) there's no reason to buy bottled water or coffee in takeaway cups.

10. Re-usable bags. Again, something you almost certainly already have but easily forgotten when you're packing for a holiday.

These will all be in my suitcase this summer, together with my other essential: a spare sarong which has a multitude of uses. What's the one thing you wouldn't go on holiday without? Wherever you're off to this summer, I hope you have a marvellous time and make some wonderful memories.

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