Let’s be honest, being on the go is the trashiest situation you can have as someone trying to reduce waste. You’re away from home and put in a compromised situation. Especially when you’re hungry, it can be really easy to make a bunch of trash like plastic cutlery, to go boxes, plastic cups and straws, and more.
It can really add up, especially when you’re out and about day after day. With just a little planning ahead, most of it is completely avoidable. Here’s a simple kit to either bring with you or stash in your car. Even if you just choose one thing to swap out for a reusable, you’ll be making a huge difference and others who see you may be inspired to make the swap too!
reusable grocery tote: Did you know the world uses 1 MILLION plastic bags a minute? Sick, right? They’re used ONCE for, on average, 12 minutes, and last forever. If you don’t have a reusable tote yet, check your local thrift store, or there’s a ton on Etsy , or these Eco Bags string bags. The key here is not to forget them, or if you do, just carry your stuff out.
a small cloth bag: I keep one of these folded and tucked in my purse always. They’re really convenient when you’re on the go. Let’s say you’re out in the morning and stop at your bakery for a croissant. You can get it in your bag instead of the paper one. OR say you’re at a store getting lunch and you want a bagel or a cookie from the case, or some almonds from the bulk bin, or a few tangerines. Pop them in your reusable cloth bag and you’re good to go! I love these linen bento bags , also these organic cotton bags work super well (and double as a good nut milk bag).
a glass mason jar with lid: glass jars are perfect utilitarian multi-use vessels. I keep one in the car and my bag all the time. You can find one at a thrift store and basically just about anywhere these days.
Plastic single use cups are the worst. To-go coffee cups that look like paper are actually lined with a plastic coating, which means they can’t be recycled and are also terrible for our health. Starbucks alone contributes 4 BILLION cups a year to the landfill. If you get coffee or tea everyday, pick up a reusable coffee cup with lid or use a mason jar with a sleeve on it.
I use my jar to buy drinks in on-the-go like juice, smoothies, coffee, tea, kombucha, water from a drinking fountain- I’ve even bought ice cream in it when all they served in was disposable cups. Take your jar to a party, BBQ, festival with you if you’re not sure if they’ll be using plastic cups. If you can’t take glass into an event, this stainless steel pint is lightweight and durable.
a set of reusable utensils to keep with you: plastic cutlery is really easy to avoid. Just keep a set with you like this bamboo one or this foldable stainless spork. I just use a small fork + spoon from my home set and keep them in my purse. Wash them off in the bathroom when you’re done. Include a stainless straw in your kit if you’re a straw person.
a cloth napkin: there’s so many pretty cloth napkins you can choose from at really any store to get away from those paper thin disposable napkins that shred and don’t do much anyway. I bought a bunch on clearance at World Market years ago.
a reusable water bottle: I usually just use my mason jar for water out and about, but if you’re going to the gym, hiking, or just drink a ton of water, a reusable bottle is a must. Plastic bottles are not only the scourge of the earth, they are terrible for our health too- plastic leaches chemicals into the water, and is especially destructive to kids growing bodies.
Americans throw away 2.5 MILLION plastic bottles every HOUR. Plus, it’s basically just tap water with no safety regulations sold back to you for a huge profit. This stainless one is very durable and plastic free.
Making this swap is one of the easiest things you can do, and saves you so much money. I know because I used to buy flats of Smart Water at Costco (embarrassing and expensive).
a stainless steel tiffin: If you buy takeout a lot, the plastic containers can really add up. Keeping a stainless steel tiffin or other reusable container with you is the easy solution.
Call ahead first to ask if it’s ok to use your own container if you’re worried. One time I did get turned down, but later the guy apologized and said it was ok. If you’re getting food at the salad bar, have them weigh the container first so you don’t get charged for the weight.
If you pack your own lunch for school or work, or hike a lot, these are fantastic for bringing your own food in. I also bring mine to events that have food stands to use instead of the plastic coated paper plates they use.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to make all these swaps overnight. If you feel overwhelmed, just choose ONE thing to swap out. Then, once you’ve got that down and feel like it’s comfortable and easy, move on to swap out another thing. Also, if you forget, don’t feel bad. The point is, you’re trying + doing your best every day to make the best choices you can. And every time you refuse single use, you’re voting with your choices and sending a clear message to businesses and others around you. Spread the inspiration.
All my love,