As many of you know, the Belize government is trying to take some responsibility in combating the global waste crisis by phasing out single-use plastics and non-environmentally friendly containers.
As of April of 2019, news headlines read – Belize Bans Single-Use Plastic. Joining 30 countries around the world that have already done a major green effort by banning single-use plastics.
So Far Belizean Government is trying to phase out single-use plastics and styrofoam products, plastic bags, plastic plates, bowls, cups, food containers, utensils, and disposable plastic drinking straws. For those who want to know more details on the actual ban, Read the Department of the Environment’s Phasing-out of Single-Use Plastics in Belize.
Many businesses and restaurants have been stepping up to help the effort but we seriously have a long way to go and we need your help. The Truck Stop is an example of one business that was on board with recyclable containers well before the ban. Many more have stepped up to join the effort, Pirates Not So Secret Beach Bar, Origin Vegan restaurant to name a few.
Inspired by these efforts, and seeing others aiming for a zero-waste lifestyle around the world, I wanted to make it easy for both locals and travelers to reduce their footprint, and help Belize on the mission to be green by creating less waste. After all, life and vacations are meant to make you feel good and contributing less waste will help you do just that.
Five simple tips to help you reduce plastic use for your travels in Belize:
1. Pack Products for Sustainable Shopping Trips in Belize
For any purchases, while you are traveling in Belize, why not choose to pack a couple of reusable shopping bags, it’s a super easy sustainable choice. There are tons of reusable totes on the market these days. Another great choice is to buy your reusable bags here. They make great souvenirs. Caye to the Heart hand makes some great designs, she also does custom work. 12 Belize Shop and Greenhouse store also sell them.
One last place to get a practical souvenir is Belize Chocolate Company while you are buying a sweet treat. They sell Belize Branded ChicoBags. They are great a great durable lightweight compact ChicoBag reusable grocery bags. There is also the original ChicoBag reusable shopping tote option. One last choice for those that like a little extra style compact designer ChicoBags. I have a ChicoBag bottle sling and I love it.
It is still very ingrained in many cashiers to reach for plastic in Belize. Many shops staff still do even when I put my bag on the counter as you can see in my left picture below. Reusable egg containers are also a great way to reduce waste. I know a few people that use them here. Otherwise, you get a cardboard or styrofoam egg crate or fill a plastic bag.
2. Pack Products for Eating & Drinking on the Go
Those of us who are trying to reduce plastic use know that it is far easier to go green and reduce single-use items at home than it is when we are out and about.
But with a few simple products, it is easier to do the right thing anywhere.
For example, packing a reusable water bottle can help you to stay hydrated at all times without the need to buy plastic bottles of water or other drinks. I have a set of glass water bottles that I bought with my Breville Juice Fountain – I am going green in more ways than one 😀
In the country, Tropic Air sells a nice travel-related vacation souvenir. They have a great modern selection at airports countrywide and Tropic Cargo in San Pedro. The one on the right below is from their first stock. I got it several years back when I was invited to a tourism tradeshow in Belize City.
Taking your own drinking vessels to bars is common here, (I wish more bars would accept that option for water drinkers too.) Consider investing in reusable high-grade non-BPA plastic or metal drinking vessels like Tervis tumblers, or Rtic cups. Or, choose easily packable non-breakable, non-plastic alternatives, like a silicone pint glass, silicone wine glass or stainless steel tumblers. This is also anther great souvenir item to buy here from Caye to the Heart, well known for custom designed reusable tumblers. Forgot to get one last time you were here? No problem Caye to the Heart also takes PayPal orders and will ship abroad, just facebook or Instagram message for details.
Think you might enjoy food-to-go or possibly a picnic while in Belize? How about a reusable food container or another sturdy BPA free to-go box, perfect for take-out food or picnic lunches. Or how about some colorful beeswax wraps to store any leftovers from those Belize restaurants for later? I bought the takeout containers below in Belize at Caye Supplies, also something I would deem a practical souvenir. I also take my own cup and spoon to DandE’s frozen custard when I am not having a sugar cone.
3. Pack Plastic Free Bathroom Products
Wherever you go on your travels, you don’t want to forget your toothbrush. Instead of buying another plastic one, why not go for a natural bristle bamboo toothbrush and a natural whitening toothpaste instead? Girls, if you still qualify, make sure you don’t contribute your sanitary products to Belize’s waste mountain. Choose a silicone cup instead. My cousin told me to get a moon cup before moving to Belize in Jan 2006. She swore by it after getting one to go green and save money in a 3-month move to Costa Rica.
4. Choose Sustainable Accommodation
By now you should begin to see how you can reduce your plastic use. But how else can you reduce your footprint while traveling in Belize? Well, one important thing to consider is where you will stay. If possible, be sure to make a sustainable choice. Eco-friendly resorts will do some of the hard work for you – making sure to reduce waste in all its forms. On Ambergris Caye, Xanadu Resort is a great example of a long time eco-friendly operation. Sandbar Hostel and Hotel pioneered a big effort to help get local businesses plastic straw alternatives and sourced a great paper straw option.
Things to look for when choosing a sustainable resort:
- Reducing energy use and uses renewable power wherever possible.
- Uses water wisely and well, and limits excessive water waste.
- Provides ethical, local, organically grown food.
- Uses all resources wisely, reducing, reusing and recycling as much as possible.
- Is kind to the local environment and gives back to the local community.
5. Opt for Eco-Friendly Activities
One last thing to consider if you want to reduce your footprint while traveling to Belize. Aside from regular tours, try to enjoy a few activities that are as low impact as possible. Belize is an amazing place for a simple adventure. Walking, biking, kayaking, windsurfing, kiteboarding, and paddleboarding are perfect activities for an eco-friendly and low impact fun.
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*Please note all Caye to the Heart Images above are courtesy of the business.