Sustainable Travel Memoirs: Montreal

Last month two friends and I set out on a ladies trip to Canada. We packed our bags, our passports and our sense of adventure to explore the beautiful, french speaking city of Montreal. Traveling poses lots of opportunities for waste but if you go prepared, I found it is much easier to fend off. With just a few of my favorite on-the-go essentials in tow and a little conscious decision making, I was able to make memories and enjoy every moment without leaving a pile of trash in my wake.

The good…

My cloth napkin served as a plate alternative when stopping for our layover at LGA.  The chickie behind the counter didn’t bat an eye when I asked her if I could have a slice of pizza on this instead of a paper plate.

Taking a mason jar proved helpful for coffee runs and water on-the-go (from the tap).  Though my hubs makes fun of the mason jar sometimes, I like it for its versatility. Normally I carry one of my water bottles on the day to day since they are a bit more durable if I were to accidentally drop them but a mason jar can be used for water, coffee, leftovers, snacks, etc. The possibilities are endless so that is why I felt it to be the perfect, minimalistic travel companion.

I declined the free snacks on all flights and brought my own apple and nuts for our outbound flight.

The stewardess was happy to pour coffee into my mason jar on the way home (all other flights I simply drank water that I had already in it).

Having a small glass snack container proved to be perfect for on-the-go veggies and it easily fit inside my small cross body!

No souvenirs were purchased!

The not so bad…

Unfortunately, I forgot to request “no straws please” for most of the trip, winding up with many unwanted plastic cylinder.  Most occasions, I grabbed those that were provided to me (as well as those of my friends) to bring back with me for future art projects.

We recycled empty wine bottles along with my friend’s single use beverage containers at the end of our trip. I even held on to a mini wine bottle and plastic cup from my first flight (nothing makes flying easier right?) until I could find a place for it to be recycled!

Receipts and tickets were brought back to be shredded and composted.

Nobody’s perfect…

The first night I had a fail on a fail. We went out to eat and had leftovers but I didn’t have anything with me at the time to take anything back to our apartment so we got a to-go box because we were planning on eating the food later and didn’t want it to go to waste. I was in charge of bringing the to-go box but at the same time there were straws in our drinks we didn’t ask for and in my fixation to grab those, I completely forgot our to-go box. This was probably one of the funniest memories of the trip. Here I was trying so hard to make sure all these straws didn’t get thrown away that I forgot the to-go bag, which probably created more waste than if I had just left the straws and remembered the bag.

I did get Brie that was wrapped in plastic on top of styrofoam to eat with a baguette and a bag of grapes from the grocery store (when in a French-speaking country, right?!)…but then also grabbed an unpackaged cucumber and pepper then carried it all home in my arms, sooo it kind of balances itself out?

Then sometimes you just have to ask yourself, really???

Other than this overly dressed fruit and unsurprising garbage sightings here and there, Montreal is an amazing, super fun city, with lots to see, experience and eat! We visited the Notre Dam Basilica, walked down a street lined with colorful balls, went on a brew pub tour, swung on musical swings, caught a hippy drum circle in the park, ate delicious French food, tried poutine and even dined in the dark!

Goes to show that being conscious of waste doesn’t mean you can’t have the time of your life. 🙂

Cheers! Erica