Little Corn Island Nica

10 ways to be Zero Waste on a remote island

Travelling is one of the most enjoyable and enriching things we can do. It is also one of the most environmentally damaging things we can do. It’s important to be aware that we are not only trampling through Mother Nature’s house but also our fellow human being’s. We wouldn’t like it if someone messed up our living room and then left, so we should have the same respect for any travel destination we are planning on visiting, right?

Travelling zero waste or as close to it as possible is easier than you think. I’ve always maintained that preparation is your biggest ally when travelling to a new destination and figuring out your options once you get there is all part of the fun of exploring a new place.

But what if you’re going somewhere fairly remote? Like an island that might not have all the common luxuries we’re used to at home or on the mainland? Like say, Little Corn Island in Caribbean Nicaragua (the one I’ve been living on for 6 months, wink wink).

Then this list is for you! I’ve been compiling a few points to help you get mentally prepared and physically packed for your zero waste trip to a remote island paradise.




1. Prepare before you go! Have your zero waste toolkit ready with all your zero waste essentials. Water bottle with filter, handkerchiefs, cutlery, takeaway container and reusable bags would definitely be necessary.


Refillable water bottle


2. Try to avoid buying packaged food items, for example, chocolate bars, chips and single use water/soft drink bottles. Try to seek out fresh fruit and vegetables. If you have a sweet tooth like me, check out the local restaurants and cafes to see what desserts they have on the menu. Or make some treats before you go and take them along.

3. Try not to waste any food. If you’ve made too much or ordered too much, keep the rest for a snack later.

4. Find out about recycling and compost options, if there are any specific bins on the island or if certain types of trash can be returned to shops or restaurants. Here on Little Corn, glass beer and soft drink bottles are returnable. They are then cleaned, refilled and sent back. A great way to save trash for the island and money for the local economy.


Recycling plastic and aluminium


5. Get to know the locals and don’t be afraid to ask them about rubbish issues and waste disposal options. This is a global issue and it’s always great to hear about the different ways remote areas are dealing with this problem (or not dealing with it). Lend a hand if at all possible.

6. Pick up trash and put it in the bin!

7. Eat local and buy local. Body care products for example, are always a popular purchase when island hopping but try not to buy packaged goods unless the packaging can be reused or refilled, like a coconut oil bottle.


Reusable containers
Little Island Naturals – Handmade at Derek’s Place, Little Corn Island , Nicaragua


8. Take your garbage home with you. Recently, the ‘Give’ group (visiting students participating in a marine conservation program here with one of the local dive centres) did an ocean cleanup and took all of the trash home with them to recycle. Amazing!! We can all do this on a smaller scale also.

9. Avoid collecting travel brochures and maps. An easy way to create waste! I used to use these as souvenirs of the places I visited. I now use internet maps and the photos I’ve taken personally from my trips as souvenirs. Much more authentic than a brochure.

10. Walk or cycle instead of taking cars or motorbikes. Not only an easy way to save money and preserve the environment but also a great way to see more and stay healthy.


Walk instead of drive


Travelling zero waste in no way makes life more difficult. With a bit of extra thought and a few minor tweaks, we can all travel with the peace of mind that we’ve kept our impact low.

As the saying goes…”Take only memories, leave only footprints”.

Happy travels!

Love Kat xx



  • lesley gardner

    July 12, 2018

    Hi Kat, I agree with everything you say but also believe that travel does open your eyes to what we are doing to the world. think the politians should get out of their high towers and really see how the majority of people live and experience their day to day existence. We can all do more to help so you keep doing your part and to educate more communities but dont forget to enjoy life. best wishes Lesley

    • Kat

      July 19, 2018

      Thanks Lesley 🙂 I agree, that governments around the world need to do more in the interest of the people and the environment. I’ll continue to do my best to enjoy life sustainably. You too! 🙂


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