The road to zero waste is paved with good intentions. Of course none of us want to produce waste, it’s just that – quite literally – the whole human experience is working against us. Whether it’s long days at work, shuttling kids to and fro, meeting up with friends for drinks, or whatever you’re doing today, it can be hard to stay zero waste while doing it.

Luckily I’ve come to find there’s one pretty simple way to drastically reduce waste when you leave the house. Honestly, the most underrated piece of advice about going zero waste is this: be prepared. If you’re not prepared, you’re going to fail and waste (especially disposables) are going to start haunting you!

Packing a good zero waste kit can really mitigate a lot of potential pitfalls. It was one of the first and best things I did when I decided to feel out the zero waste life.

Some of these links are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you.

My zero waste kit essentials

These are what I bring with me every day when I leave the house, regardless of where I’m going. I keep them all in a tote to make the transfer between bags easy; but don’t worry, it’s a small enough bundle it even fits in my small purse.

I’ve included the specialty items I have as well as the free alternatives. Remember, you don’t need special products to practice zero waste – use what you already have in your house for free.

An Eco-Bag tote: I received this from the company and have fallen in love. It holds so much and it’s a very cute product that draws a lot of interest. I try to keep my kit in this bag (unless it’s being used, obviously) to keep everything in order. Free alternative: any tote bag, helps if it folds up small.

A stainless steel straw: I went without for a while, but found they’re a good touch point for people who may only know zero waste through straw ban initiatives. If you feel the need for a straw but are worried about the sharp metal edges, silicone straws are another good reusable option.

Bamboo cutlery: I received these to try from a company and really enjoy them. If you’re someone that doesn’t drive, you can appreciate how anything lighter can really help lessen your load! I remove them from the pouch and just wrap them in my napkin. Easy, easy. Free alternative: a fork from your kitchen.

A beeswax and regular cloth handkerchief – When I first looked into zero waste, I was really excited by Bees Wrap; that is, until I figured out I could make it at a fraction of the price they sold it at with just a bit of beeswax. Now I always have one beeswax cloth (the white one) and one plain one with me. Best of all, these were my grandmother’s. For about a year they sat around collecting dust – now, they come with me and get to be useful every day! Oh: instructions for making beeswax wraps here. Super easy.

A small Stasher bag: I got one of these through a Mighty Nest offer and have been convinced. Though pricey, these bags are worth it. They’re so versatile and so much lighter/smaller than glass jars or stainless steel containers. I use it to carry snacks in the morning, microwave lunch, and hold compost I need to take home. Free alternative: an old ziploc tote.

A StoJo collapsible mug: I love this thing. Love love love. You can just toss it in your bag, forget about it, and then get very excited when you remember it’s there and can get a coffee without a single-use container. (I’ve also tared it and filled it with bulk snacks when in a bind!) Free alternative: any travel mug.

An Ello water bottle: (sometimes) I’m really bad about remembering to drink water throughout the day, so I try to keep this one where I can see it at all times to remind me. Toss in some ginger/lemon/whatever herb is rattling around in the fridge to make the water a little more interesting. It’s heavy but I’ve grown attached to it. Free alternative: any cup or water bottle.

All this – along with everything else I stuff in along with it – can make quite a heavy bag! But it’s worth it to prepare yourself for whatever the day might throw at you! How would you create your own zero waste kit – what would it include?

Zero Waste Bag Essentials - Green Indy Blog


Jasilyn · February 15, 2017 at 2:05 am

This is a great post! I need to start using reusable napkins! I didn’t even know they made metal straws! I always bite my straws though (Anton gets so mad at me), and I can already feel it hurting my teeth! I can’t wait to read more! You are inspiring me!

    pollybarks · February 15, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    Haha, then maybe metal or glass straws would not be the best for you! Reusable napkins, though, are so totally useful!

    D · April 14, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    Maybe try silicone reusable straws?

Linda · May 9, 2017 at 5:00 pm

I just use my insulated Klean Kanteen for water as well as any other hot or cold beverages. One less item.

Shelly Bergman · June 17, 2018 at 1:45 pm

There are silicon tips you can buy for your stainless steel straws for the biters out there 🙂

    Polly · June 20, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    Good idea! There are also 100% silicone ones if you don’t mind a little wobble 🙂

Zero waste DIY: reusable food wrap - Green Indy · March 2, 2017 at 7:33 pm

[…] of the handy little things I carry in my everyday zero waste essentials kit is a reusable food wrap. It’s basically a little handkerchief with a wax […]

Zero waste challenges to try this weekend - GREEN INDY · March 24, 2017 at 1:19 pm

[…] For even more ideas, check out my zero waste essentials kit. […]

Zero waste lunches at work: inspiration & recipes - GREEN INDY · April 11, 2017 at 5:09 pm

[…] you want, you can check out the full zero waste essentials kit I posted earlier. But to […]

The zero waste 7 day challenge - you ready? - GREEN INDY · April 25, 2017 at 8:19 pm

[…] can check out my full zero waste essentials kit in this post, […]

Urban foraging: the real local eating - GREEN INDY · June 17, 2017 at 9:33 am

[…] than just pass by, enjoying the nostalgia in my head, I pulled over and grabbed a bag. (Thanks zero waste kit – I was prepared!) I began to pick what I could reach, filling up my bag with about a pound […]

Going Zero Waste with Green Indy Blog | Sustain U · June 17, 2017 at 1:10 pm

[…] zero waste arsenal with a few basics in order to refuse single-use plastics in the first place. Polly suggests a bottle for cold drinks, one for hot drinks, metal straws, canvas bags, and portable, reusable […]

5 habits to help go zero waste at work - GREEN INDY · July 23, 2017 at 3:34 pm

[…] out my zero waste essentials kit for […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.