Clean Seas Guidelines for Visitors to the Arctic

Tips to reduce your plastic footprint

Be part of the solution

When travelling to the polar regions, there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of plastic and other waste produced. In the Arctic, you will visit remote areas with limited waste management facilities. Depending on your location, waste may be landfilled locally or compacted and shipped elsewhere for treatment.

Your operator is working towards reducing single-use plastic in its operations. You could support their efforts and help leave no lasting signs of your visit by reducing the number of disposable items you bring, use and dispose of during your trip. There are also steps you can take to stop litter and harmful plastics from ending up in nature.

Before traveling

  • Travel with reusable items such as water bottle, coffee cup, reusable bag, reusable cutlery, etc. that you can bring home with you.
  • Consider bringing a reusable waterproof bag to protect your camera from the elements.
  • When packing toiletries, choose eco-friendly alternatives such as cosmetics free of microbeads.
  • Choose products with non-plastic packaging such as soap and shampoo bars. Your accommodation may also be equipped with refillable dispensers. If you need to use plastic bottles and containers, use reusable ones.
  • Synthetic clothing sheds small plastic fibers. We recognize that it may not be possible to entirely stop using synthetic clothing but reducing the amount we use is a great first goal.

When traveling

  • When possible, avoid using disposable cups, straws, bottles, food containers and other items.
  • Do not throw any non-organic items in the toilet, including wet wipes.
  • Make sure all your belongings are well secured when ashore or on deck. A moment of inattention and a gust of wind can easily blow light bags and other items away.
  • Enquire about local environmental initiatives and how you can reduce your plastic footprint to support the community you visit.
  • Talk to other travelers and staff – not everyone has the same experience and knowledge, so it is a good opportunity to learn from and inspire others.

Continue at home

  • Reduce: By consuming less and using reusable items you can help reduce the total amount of waste.
  • Reuse: Extend the life of your belongings. If you no longer need it, give it away.
  • Recycle: Learn about the cycle of your waste at home and sort out your waste accordingly to maximize the chances of material recovery.

Please help keep these out of nature


Special note

In areas where waste facilities are limited, most items tend to be treated as general waste. Products labelled as ‘degradable’ or ‘biodegradable’ will degrade faster than regular plastic items but may still contain fossil fuels, thus creating microplastic particles. To effectively reduce waste, avoid using these alternative options and choose reusable items instead.

What the travel industry is doing

The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) and the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) have joined the United Nations Clean Seas campaign. Together with their members, they are working to systematically reduce the use of disposable plastics and other items. Operators are also involving guests in beach cleanups worldwide and remove tons of marine litter every year. Through information to crew, staff and guests, and through sharing of best practices AECO and IAATO are involved in raising awareness and involvement in safeguarding of the environment, at sea and on land.