10 Things to Pack for a Sustainable Kauai Vacation

When thinking of things to pack for your kauai vacation, please do so thoughtfully and pack light! If you want to travel sustainably, traveling light is a great first step. The more weight your baggage has, the more fuel used by planes and cars to carry you around. Given that, it’s just as important to reduce your waste, invest locally, and care for the environment while you’re on your Kauai vacation!

Things to Pack to Reduce Waste

Waste is a huge issue on a small remote island. We have one landfill over capacity, no curbside recycling, and ship our dropped-off recyclables off-island to be processed. Consider these things to pack to reduce your waste:

  1. Reusable Water Bottle: It’s hot on Kauai and you want to stay hydrated. Please don’t do so by purchasing multi-packs of single use plastic water bottles! We have water refill stations where you can get extra-tasty ionized water by 5-gallon jugs in front of places like Ace and Kauai Bowl in Lihue once you get off the plane, and fill up your bottle throughout your visit. If you don’t pack your own reusable bottle, buy one on your first day as a souvenir of your commitment to not trash our island.
  1. Foldable Cooler Bag: A soft foldable cooler is SUPER convenient for a Kauai vacation when you’re always on the go! Your alternative temporary purchase of a cheap styrofoam cooler will last FOREVER on our island. Do one beach cleanup with Surfrider picking styrofoam off our beaches and you’’ll think twice before purchasing these kinds of throwaway items. Forget your own? Buy an inexpensive one locally and donate it to the Salvation Army on your way home to the airport – double give-back!
  1. Reusable Shopping Bag: Most of us have a bunch of these sitting around the house already. Don’t forget to put one in your luggage! Although we have a plastic bag ban on Kauai, even paper bags pile up. They’re incredibly handy for our 7-days-a-week farmers markets!
  1. Small Compostable Trash Bags: Having a small roll of compostable trash bags is a useful little investment. You will surely put them to good use packing your trash out of our many beaches or hiking spots, sorting your recycling for drop-off at our recycling centers, or even putting your wet swimsuit in your bag. (Pro tip: a cheap score are compostable doggie poop bags sold by the roll)
  1. Reusable Utensil Set: Plastic utensils are an incredible waste. You’ll likely be eating out a lot on your Kauai vacation so you can sample all of the amazing things our restaurants have to offer. Kauai has an approx. of 80,000 visitors per month; if they all ate just two fast-casual or to-go meals out during their trip, that would be close 2 MILLION of plastic silverware that gets thrown out annually. Every bit can really add up.
  1. Mini Toiletries: Bring your own reusable and refillable bottles for your toiletries rather than use the hotel’s. Do the math – if every individual hotel room goes through even 1 of these disposable bottles a day that’s over 365 plastic bottles a year per hotel room. We have thousands of hotel rooms on Kauai!

Other Important Things to Pack

  1. Reef Safe Sunscreen: Kauai’s reefs have seen better days. It’s important we care for them as much as possible to keep our beautiful underwater ecosystem healthy and gorgeous. Always look at ingredient lists to make sure reef-damaging substances (such as oxybenzone, butylparaben, octinoxate and 4-methylbenzylidine camphor, all of which have been shown to cause coral bleaching even at low levels) aren’t included. Surprisingly, reef safe sunscreen can sometimes be difficult to find here, so bring some from home if you can.
  1. Cash: Buying “local and small” is important to our economy and sustainable economic development here on Kauai. Many small business owners, including farmers market vendors, don’t accept credit cards. We’re still not that hip to things like Square or Venmo. Having cash on hand makes buying local easier, and you’ll never have to miss out on a unique and authentic souvenir during your Kauai vacation, simply because you didn’t bring cash!
  1. Solar Chargers: We have year-round sunshine here on Kauai, so solar is an excellent way to charge your devices, especially when you’re out beach hopping for the day. We’re lucky that Kauai has a pretty cool energy cooperative, KIUC, who puts a lot of investment into renewable energy. Yet, we still have a ways to go, and do ship in fossil fuels to produce electricity.
  1. A Positive & Caring Attitude: This is one of the most important things to pack! If you care about Kauai, it’ll care about you back. It’s magic. You’ll see when you get here.

If you’re looking for more tips on traveling sustainable, check out Travel Sustainably on Kauai: 17 Ways to Keep Your Visit Authentic. What types of things to pack do you think make for a sustainable Kauai vacation?

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