Looking after the environment on your travels is no longer a trend but a necessity. Try these eco-friendly products and pack better for the planet.
Also read: How to make your own plastic-free picnic set.
First, what does biodegradable actually mean?
We asked Robyn Smith, founder of eco-friendly, organic store Faithful to Nature.
‘It’s simple – it means a product can break down into natural materials in the environment without causing harm. Be aware that some packaging states that the ingredients in the product are Earth-friendly when in fact they are still bad for the environment. It also stands to reason that if an ingredient is toxic to us it is much more toxic to smaller creatures. Go to the Environmental Working Group website for a database and ratings on a wide range of products and ingredients on the market.’
1. Reitzer Anti-Mozzie Glycerine Soap
This soap ticks all the boxes of an environmentally friendly product: it’s made locally, contains only natural ingredients and the packaging is made from recycled board. It smells fresh and wards off mozzies, thanks to the addition of citronella, tea tree and lemongrass essential oils. It lathers well so it can be used as a shampoo too.
2. Hemporium Shopper Bag
Ditch the plastic. Made from sustainable hemp, this large bag is crafted from eco-friendly plant matter and is surprisingly durable. It’s a roomy basic, good to take on picnics or for padkos and drinks on road trips.
The Woolworths Reusable Shopping Bag is made from recycled plastic bottles and folds at, taking up little space, so tuck one into your luggage to tote home your souvenirs. R15, woolworths.co.za.
3. Lush Shampoo Bars and Solid Toothpaste
R130 and R125, lush.co.za
Made from organic ingredients and sold without packaging, these innovative Solid Shampoo bars are preservative-free and work a treat. I love the variety of fragrances available, plus the bars lather well for easy washing. Long-lasting tins are also available for easy travel. The Toothy Tabs solid toothpaste is another nifty travel toiletry: nibble one mini tablet between your teeth and start brushing with a wet toothbrush. They come in a variety of flavours. The bottle is made from recycled material and the store encourages you to return it once the tablets are finished. Lush is a great eco-education shopping experience as staff know what goes into all the products.
Avoid soaps with plastic ‘exfoliating’ microbeads. They are too small to be filtered out during treatment and trickle into precious water sources, and there is significant proof they contribute to water pollution.
4. Pure Beginnings Revitalising Body Wash
Pure Beginnings is a proudly South African company that makes sustainable products with ingredients that are natural, certified organic wherever possible, ethically sourced and traded fairly, plus it provides support to local rural communities. All its body-care products, including this handy 250ml travel-size body wash, are free of parabens, synthetic fragrances, aluminium and petrochemicals. I love the fragrance of the baobab and ylang-ylang in this wash, but all of them smell great and leave skin feeling soft.
5. MHR Trailrider Socks
From R79, mohairmillshop.com
Warm, comfy and hard-wearing, these socks are woven from the wool of free-roaming sheep in the Karoo (some designs include anti-bacterial bamboo fibres). They are ideal for mountain biking and good for hiking, providing good cushioning to prevent chafing. They also wick well so your feet stay dry and blister-free.
6. Greenlite Eco Firelighters
Low in odour and parafin-free, these affordable, locally made firelighters help to braai better for the planet. Made from recyclable materials (waste paper, food-grade colourant and bio fuel such as grape seed and vegetable cooking oil), their smell doesn’t linger on your fingers. The 12 firelighters come in a chocolate-bar shape so you simply snap one off to light the fire. They burn for ages so it’s easy to get your fire going .
7. Greenhome Sugarcane Plates
R25 for 10, faithful-to-nature.co.za
Made using a sugarcane fibre known as bagasse, this is an eco-savvy substitute for paper plates, disposable plastic and styrofoam containers (the latter two are made from petrochemicals, taking centuries to break down). The plates are big and sturdy, and the range includes bowls, cups and utensils. All the products come in compostable packaging.
8. Icebreaker Base Layers
Stretchy and lightweight, this merino wool base layer is designed for the outdoors. It provides warmth but breathes too, thanks to the natural wool fibres, which are less likely to hang onto odours. Well-positioned panelling in the garment helps to regulate body temperature and the soft material minimises chafe. Merino wool is biodegradable and long-lasting; the spin-off is less consumption so less impact on the environment. Available for men and women and in a T-shirt design.
9. Sexy Socks
If you’re looking for funky socks, Sexy Socks has a wide range of designs manufactured in Cape Town. They’re made from bamboo fibres, which are eco-friendly, anti-odour and anti-chafe. Also, for every pair you buy, a pair of school socks goes to a child in need.
10. Pure Beginnings Biodegradable Baby Wipes
Pure Beginnings Biodegradable Baby Wipes are antimicrobial and made from organic bamboo fibre. Perfect for cleaning sticky fingers in the car, or using out on the trail.
Read the story in the August 2017 issue of Getaway magazine.
Our August issue features 14 Northern Cape treasures, a trip along Mozambique’s pristine beaches on a fat-bike, holidays to take if you want to learn a new skill and so much more.