Plastic Free Travel: Sun Valley, Idaho

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I was lucky enough to spend some time in gorgeous Sun Valley, Idaho last weekend, and since it was Plastic Free July, I did my best to avoid plastic, and waste in general. I wasn’t perfect, but it was a lot easier than avoiding plastic in Las Vegas! Here’s how I did.

On the Plane

I was able to refuse plastic-wrapped snacks and drinks in plastic cups by bringing my own meal and filling up my water bottle at the airport. Because of my gluten intolerance, I couldn’t have eaten the snacks that were offered on the flight (cookies or pretzels) even if I wanted to. I started bringing my own snacks and meals a long time ago to save money and avoid gluten, but now I make sure to wrap them up sustainably too (usually in glass or a cloth).


At the Hotel

I also brought my own soap and other toiletries to avoid using those little plastic-packaged ones at the hotel (and this hotel had a lot of them). Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my metal razor—gah! Instead, I was forced to use a plastic-wrapped plastic razor provided by the hotel. I suppose I could have just forgone shaving for a few days, but I’m just not that comfortable walking around in shorts or a swimsuit with overgrown leg hair. I know, I know, I’m a bad feminist in addition to being a bad zero waster. Sigh. I promise I’ll do better next time.

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We mostly ate in restaurants with real plates and silverware, so there wasn’t much plastic waste to speak of. Annoyingly, one meal was served on a plate, but the pico de gallo it came with was in a little plastic cup. Why can’t they just put it in a reusable dish?! I suppose I’ll never know. The one time I ordered my meal “to go,” (we were a little late leaving for the airport) it was given to me in a cardboard box with a little wooden knife and fork set. I actually had my own reusable bamboo cutlery set, so I didn’t need the knife and fork, but I thought it was a pretty cool alternative to plastic that I hadn’t seen before.

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Unlike in Las Vegas, drinks were served in glasses rather than plastic cups (hooray)! They did have little plastic cups for water at the pool, but I brought my own water bottle, so I didn’t use any. I even brought my CamelBak for our nine-mile hike in the mountains. Yes, it’s made of plastic, but at least it was reusable plastic. Other people in the group were chugging water and Gatorade from plastic bottles, which is something I myself would have done a few years ago. I’ve learned that for traveling, you really have to prepare for every activity to avoid wasteful last-minute purchases.


Another thing I found really cool was that the coffee counter at the resort had real spoons for stirring coffee, instead of those plastic stirrers, and a jar of sugar lumps, instead of single-use packets. Even if you order a coffee “for here,” or bring your own reusable mug, adding sugar and stirring your coffee can still create waste. This is such an easy fix though—I wish more places did this!

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Apart from the razor, I think I did a pretty good job of avoiding plastic on this trip. I had such an amazing time hiking, biking, swimming, and eating delicious food. In my opinion, any time spent outdoors is time well spent.

plastic free travel sun valley

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