Travelling zero waste, easy or not? We were talking about it here a few weeks ago.
Since then, we discovered a young couple of travel bloggers, who made us curious. What makes their world tour unique: they travel essentially by bicycle and without waste!
Currently in Japan, Minnucia was kind enough to answer our questions between two laps of their adventures.
Hi Minuccia, tell us more about yourself and your project
We are Minuccia and Tony, a french couple who love cycling and traveling. We have always travelled by bike and dreamed of going around the world. We were lucky enough to take a year off. A great opportunity to jump on our bikes to discover the globe.
The idea at the heart of our project is to take our time. We have 12 months ahead of us and do not plan to stay less than a month in the countries we cross. We stayed in New Zealand for two months, and plan to stay as long in Japan, where we are now.
At the beginning, we had no precise plan, but desires of course; Take the Trans-Siberian Railway, discover New Zealand, see the cherry blossoms in the Land of the Rising Sun. All we know is we’ll be back in January 2019.
You travel the world mainly by bike using clean transport, with a zero-waste philosophy. Why did you choose to travel slowly and responsibly?
It wasn’t a choice, it’s just the way we live and travel! We didn’t change our habits or our lifestyle.
Concerning zero waste, it is a new devouring passion that started for me shortly before our departure. Unfortunately, we are not totally zero waste but we’re doing our best to think about our how we buy and consume without waste when shopping food.
We’re sensitive to nature and its beauty, travelling by bike allows us to be in contact with it. Reducing our waste as much as possible is a natural approach for us to protect our beautiful planet.
Did zero-waste complicate planning your world tour?
Not really, because this zero-waste philosophy has made me rethink all my consumption habits. I emptied the house of all its plastic and donated it all to charities.
All we had to do to leave, was pick up our travel gear. Whether we go away for a weekend, two weeks or a year, we eventually carry exactly the same: 15 kg of luggage each.
15 kg of Luggage nicely packed - Picture courtesy of Minuccia © 2018
What did you bring along with you, to be zero waste?
The zero waste philosophy is above all to use what we have, think reuse and if we must buy, go to second-hand shops.
As I had already rethought the house in zero waste mode, our toilet kits were already optimal. I detailed this on the blog (read it here). We opted for stainless steel flasks to keep our drinks hot or cold instead of plastic ones (even without BPA).
For our world tour, we invested in a hand pump to filter water and a solar charger for our phones. We use our stove to bake sweet or savoury cakes and we have several cloths and furoshiki bags to store our food, which we buy in bulk as much as possible.
And on the ground, daily, how does that translate?
Daily, we’re very careful about what we buy to feed ourselves. It’s not always easy to find things in bulk and plastic is everywhere, but it’s possible!
With our stove, we can cook our meals.
With our reusable water bottles, no need to buy plastic ones, we just fill them. There are always places for that, at worst we dare to ask people to use their taps. And if the water really is not potable, we can always filter through our pump from a pond, but we have never had to do it so far.
We camp most of the time. If we go to the hotel we do not use single-use toiletries. If everyone refuses them, hotels will stop offering them and manufacturers will stop making them.
Same for restaurants, we have our napkin (like at the cafeteria when we were kids), our chopsticks and we do not use cups, plastic cutlery, or straws (not always easy to be understood when we ask not to have any…)
View from the tent in New Zealand - Photo Courtesy of Minuccia © 2018
Have you experienced “zero waste fails”? Are there things that really don’t fit or are difficult when you travel around the world for a year?
Yes we did, and it still happens.
For example, at Disney Tokyo Sea we couldn’t get our tickets online, so we got paper tickets. In New Zealand too, it was difficult to take away food unwrapped in paper 🙁
In Japan, we have a hard time finding unpackaged food and when we do, they wrap it in plastic for us anyway. Going to the market is a good solution, but we don’t always have this option, when we’re riding.
What about cycling: easy ? Have some countries been more difficult to ride through ?
Of course, cycling is easy 🙂
Okay, we must admit sometimes there are more stressful moments than others.
New Zealand, for example, is not bike-friendly at all. Car drivers didn’t pay attention to us at all and it’s dangerous.
In Romania, children sometimes threw stones at us, but these behaviours were occasional, and we do not want to believe that they reflect a constant attitude.
In Southeast Asia, cycling was easy even if sometimes oppressive with the density of traffic.
Today in Japan, we’re overjoyed when drivers slow down long in advance and put a lot of space between us when they overtake. We’re not even used to that in France, where drivers regularly overtake really close to us.
In the countries you have crossed so far, have you noticed places where it is easier to be eco-friendly than others?
In South East Asia, it seems easy to be eco-friendly, you can find everything in bulk.
Much less in New Zealand. We put that on island isolation and importing products, but bulk on a large scale would be a great solution to individual portions wrapped in plastic.
Did you discover things that surprised you, good eco-friendly practices?
Toilets in Asia are often paperless, with water pipes to wash. We find this approach super green and much cleaner than toilet paper like in Europe.
If China is super-polluted, we have seen that they are rethinking their plastic consumption habits. We often saw coffee shops where the drink was cheaper if you brought your own cup.
In New Zealand as in Iceland, geothermal energy is used to produce electricity for an entire city for example, we were really impressed.
On the contrary, did anything shock you?
The pollution of some places, like Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia that we cycled through in the middle of winter by -40°C. A lot of snow was covering the piles of garbage. The air pollution blocked our bronchi in no time, we had a hard time breathing.
Plastic bags everywhere and for everything in Thailand also, we saw them hanging in trees and on the sides of roads, it is sad.
Last question, recently we gave ten basic tips to try zero waste on holiday. Do you have any tips to share with us?
For us, the base is to have a stainless-steel mug and/or bottle. It can also be, using a stainless steel bento box that you can wash and reuse rather than taking the plastic or polystyrene box that you’ll have to discard immediately after consumption.
I say stainless steel because even certified without BPA, plastic does not fit into my conception of zero waste. Sometimes my thinking goes very far: not having a mobile phone, or anything that could harm the environment.
But I’m not ready to give up everything and Tony helps me not to feel too guilty when I put too much pressure on myself.
It is always necessary to privilege reuse and especially not to consume to follow the “hype” and the consumerist influences. You just should appreciate what you have and not want more. Zero waste is also minimalist 😉
After Japan, Minuccia and Tony will go to South Korea, then who knows ? USA, Central America or Africa, they have not yet determined where they will cycle next. They’ll decide at the end of their Asian stage. To find out, follow their adventures on social networks, listed at the bottom of the article.
Thank you, Minuccia and Tony for this testimonial, which shows us that responsible travel and zero waste, is not complicated, one pedal stroke at a time. Have a good trip!
To follow Minnucia, this way
Her Blog (in French) : https://www.decouvertesdicietdailleurs.fr
And social accounts : – –
You can also put questions for them in the comments