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.
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 I actually really liked using a straw enough to purchase a few. These are especially good as visual aids for refusing a straw – waiters/bartenders are much more likely to remember you don’t need a straw when you already have one! 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?