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Hand luggage only

Air travel – one of the world’s major sources of climate change-causing greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) – is a big challenge for green-minded travellers.

According to Friends of the Earth, for a typical journey under 500km – such as London to Amsterdam – the amount of CO2 produced per passenger is 0.17 kg/km for air travel. This compares with 0.14 kg/km for travel by car, 0.052 kg/km for rail and 0.047 kg/km by boat. A passenger taking a long-haul return flight from the UK to the USA, meanwhile, can produce as much CO2 as someone driving for a whole year.

The Air Transport Action Group says that worldwide, flights produced 705 million tons of CO2 in 2013 – a figure expected to rise significantly in future years.

And for various reasons – including because water vapour at high levels forms thin clouds that have a warming effect – air travel creates much more global warming than just caused by its CO2 emissions alone.

So how can we reduce our personal environmental impact if flying? Click here for a handy list of actions.

Here we look at one easy step you can take – packing light. We’ve found some great lightweight clothing, toiletries and gear to make travelling with just hand luggage easier. Many airlines allow a free 10kg allowance* for a cabin bag or case – and our selection falls well below that limit.

Every pound of weight carried by a plane increases the quantity of fuel it uses. The lighter the plane, the less fuel it burns – reducing pollution. So you can help by packing efficiently and lightly. And you’ll benefit by only taking what you really need, with luggage that’s easier to carry – and if you’re travelling with just hand luggage you’ll spending less time waiting around at the airport.

For more packing light tips click here.  

*Cabin bag allowances for airlines vary. Be sure to check your airline’s terms and conditions before you fly.

The Case: IT World’s Lightest Suitcase   £44.99

At 1.6kg it does what it says on the tin - and is robust and hard-wearing to boot. Its 38L capacity means it’s easily big enough to fit in everything you’ll need for a week or two away. Measures 55x40x20cm - fine for the cabins of most airlines*.

Jack Wolfskin jacket   £220

This waterproof softshell jacket is stretchy and breathable, making it perfect for any activity where ease of movement and protection against the elements is essential. It will cope with wind and rain and has an integrated hood. But what’s truly amazing is how this level of protection can come in such a lightweight package – it weighs only 450g and will barely affect your hand luggage weight allowance, so you can pack it in your case until you need it.

Craghoppers Seline Microfleece   £30

For such a lightweight fleece the Seline is surprisingly warm, so is ideal if you’re heading for cooler climes or need a warmer layer on chilly evenings spent outdoors. Very soft, quick to dry – and available in a range of super summery colours too.

Silverstick T shirts   £22

Silverstick produce environmentally-friendly adventure clothing using organic fabrics made under fair working conditions in Portugal. Their excellent quality, organic cotton t shirts are durable, soft and comfy – perfect for daytime activities or relaxed evenings on the town. We love the tree design tee, available in a gorgeous shade of blue.

Keela Peru trousers   £42.95

Soft and stretchy trousers, giving good flexibility of movement through a range of activities and providing a high level of comfort. They’re very lightweight, quick-drying and don’t need to be ironed, so are ideal for travel. There are plenty of pockets, including a hidden inner security pocket – and with UV protection and water resistance they’ll cope with a range of different climates.

Patagonia Kamala Skirts   £60

We love dual-purpose items, and this beautiful organic cotton/Tencel skirt converts to a bandeau-style dress that’s perfect for the beach. When worn as a skirt, the asymmetrical skirt falls modestly below the knee – so is great for visiting city museums and cathedrals. The skirt’s wide, stretchy waistband is very comfortable in hot climates. Patagonia has  top-notch ethical production policies, with responsibly sourced, recycled and reclaimed materials as well as fair labour practices.  

prAna Tops and Tees (from $55)

At around 65g each, these ridiculously lightweight tops from prAna are cool, comfortable and very stylish. They’re also crease-resistant, so can be rolled into any tiny spaces left in your luggage. There are lots of different styles and colours to choose from (and at this weight there’s no reason why you can’t pack two or three). All clothes made by prAna are ethically produced, using recycled or organic materials and strict fair trade and fair labour policies, and the company works hard to minimise its environmental impact.  

People Tree Stephanie shorts   £48

Ethical clothing company People Tree produce fair trade and environmentally sustainable fashion. These 100 per cent organic cotton shorts also come in navy.

KEEN Clearwater CNX sandals   £74.99

Extremely comfortable, waterproof, cool and lightweight – the Clearwater CNX sandals are ideal for active summer travel. They weigh less than 220g, and can be used for a multitude of activities, from kayaking and stand up paddle boarding to hiking and sightseeing. Read our full review.

EKO Multi Spa Wrap   £45

This super-soft long-sleeved wrap is perfect for keeping the chill away on the plane or on evenings out on the town. It’s beautifully stylish but very lightweight – roll it up and tuck it into your case or backpack. What’s really great about this top is that it can be worn in three different ways: leave it loose as a waterfall-style jacket, tie it in front over a dress or skirt, or wrap it around and button at the back for a smart long-sleeved t-shirt that looks fabulous over jeans. EKO clothing is made ethically from organic and sustainable materials, with fair wages and working conditions.

Bloc Hornet sunglasses   £35

Bloc Hornet sunglasses offer excellent UV protection and are lightweight without feeling at all flimsy. The polarised lenses are impact resistant and prevent glare – great for water sports and any other outdoor activities in bright conditions. The durable frames fit really well – the non-slip temple tips prevent the glasses from sliding around during strenuous activity. They manage to fit snugly, but without pinching – making them extremely comfortable. The sunglasses come complete with a soft protective case.

KEEN UNEEK sandal   £89.99

This unique sandal is made using two fully adjustable cords ensuring a perfect fit and extreme comfort. They weigh just 252g and are available in 12 different colours.

Essential Burt’s Bees Kit    £12.99

Ethical travel-sized toiletries can be hard to find, which is why we love this set from Burt’s Bees. Burt’s Bees products are made from natural ingredients and are produced sustainably, using energy and water conservation methods and zero waste sent to landfill. The Essential Burt’s Bees Kit includes deliciously scented, nourishing lotions – in security-friendly sizes – to moisturize your dry bits. And it includes a Burt’s Bees lip balm – in our opinion, the very best lip balm money can buy.

Scrubba Wash Bag   $55 USD

If you’re travelling light, you’re going to need to wash your kit at some point. Hotel laundry services are expensive, and if you’ve only got a couple of t-shirts and some underwear to wash, it’s not worth spending half the day in the local launderette. Washing by hand in your hotel sink (assuming your sink has a plug – many don’t) is one alternative – but results aren’t always great. The Scrubba wash bag is an ingenious lightweight plastic “washing machine” that washes clothes quickly and ecologically – you get great results with very little water and soap. And you won’t even get your hands wet! Great for camping.

Crystal Spring Salt of the Earth deodorant   £3.36

This is a solid deodorant stone that you wet and apply to underarms to keep odour at bay. It works. The tiny travel size lasts for weeks – and because it’s solid there are no worries about carrying excess liquids through security.

D R Harris shampoo bars   £8.25

Carrying liquids in hand luggage can cause problems – you’re only allowed a maximum of 100ml in each bottle and if you’re away for a few weeks that may not be enough. These wonderful-smelling solid shampoo bars from D R Harris solve this problem. At just 66g, including recyclable storage tin, each bar lasts as long as a 300ml bottle of liquid shampoo – but is far lighter and takes up less space. Available in four different fragrances, we loved Arlington – the signature fragrance from D R Harris. It leaves hair soft, shiny and squeaky clean – and can also be used on the body.

Go Travel Squeezy cabin bottles   £9.99

These travel bottles hold your favourite lotions, liquids and gels in an airline-approved 100ml. Because they’re squeezy, it’s easier to get every last drop of lotion out. The bottles have built-in suction caps, so you can stick the bottles to the wall of the shower – handy when space is limited.

Green Adventures July 2015

Lightweight travel gear

Travelling light is better for our environment. We check out some  

to help keep your luggage weight down.

Cotswold Outdoor LifeVenture SoftFibre Trek towel   £28

A beach towel can take up a large amount of space – and weight allowance – in your hand luggage. The LifeVenture SoftFibre Trek towel from Cotswold Outdoor offers a solution. Big enough to spread out on the beach, and impressively absorbent, it’s much lighter than a standard beach towel – but will dry eight times faster. It’s also treated with an anti-bacterial agent, to prevent odours. Has a handy loop for hanging up and weighs just 250g.