Harried travelers have to ditch their bottled beverages to make it through airport security checkpoints to their flights, but unless airports change their practices, those recyclable bottles often go straight to the trash. The New York Times wrote recently about the difficulties airlines face in greening their waste-management practices, which can involve many agencies and are different in every airport. Some have learned to adapt - the Portland International Airport in Oregon, for example, has installed a station for passengers to dump liquids out of bottles so that they can keep and reuse them, with a recycling bin close by.
Of course, it's not just security practices that cause the trash to pile up in airports. With time to kill at gates and during layovers, the airport food court is all but irresistible. Much of the fast food you'll find there is overpackaged to make it portable enough to take on board with you. A few airports, like Oakland International, have cut down on their trash by installing compost bins for food waste, and encouraging restaurant tenants to use compostable food containers. And on the planes themselves, food and plastic waste is abundant, thanks to the millions of cans and plastic cups that most airlines send straight to the trash. Continental is one airline that collects recyclable waste before landing, and recycles it through airport kitchens.
Here are a few items you can bring to the airport to cut back on the amount of waste you produce - all of which are convenient for travel: