In case you haven’t heard, it’s almost Plastic Free July, a month where you can focus on reducing your use of single-use plastics. Join the community of millions participating all over the world and feel supported as you practice skills you can use long after the month of July!
To help you prepare, I wanted to let you know the best way to fight single-use plastics is by being prepared when you leave the house. Because you can strategize for pre-planned purchases but those random, in-the-moment issues are what can make or break your dependence on single-use plastics.
DISCLAIMER: the single easiest way to be successful in Plastic Free July is to practice refusing. You don’t have to worry about single-use cups if you don’t go to the coffee shop. You can’t stress over plastic packaging if you don’t order online.
That being said, we’ll still need to interact with the outside world on a day-to-day basis and come across situations that require us to consume. So here’s what’s in my bag for Plastic Free July – and beyond.
“Zero Waste” Bags
My bag is a random second-hand mini-backpack I got from a thrift store for a few bucks. It’s on its last legs as there are slowly becoming more rips that I just can’t repair. Eventually it’ll have to be replaced but, per usual, I’m paralyzed by indecision and won’t get anything until I’m carrying around items in my arms.
But I have started looking and here are the options I like when looking for a “zero waste” bag:
- second hand. I’ve had no luck at my local thrift stores, which tend to be low-end items. I’ll have to move online which I don’t love, but options like eBay, ReStitch, or ThredUp do exist if you don’t mind online shopping.
- PUP messenger bags. I love the ethos of People for Urban Progress (PUP) headquartered in Indianapolis. They started by salvaging material from a stadium that was being destroyed and now save fabric and material from all over Indianapolis and repurpose them into cool bags and other goods.
- grünBAG. Similarly, grünBAG uses rescued materials destined for the trash to make high quality bags. These bags are bright and almost industrial-style – a bit too cool for my style, but I’m sure others would love them!
- ChicoBag. While ChicoBag is mostly known for its reusable bags, they also have a limited selection of more durable, everyday bags. They run a ton of great company-wide zero waste initiatives, so they’re a company you can feel good about supporting.
What’s in my bag
Nothing too surprising here, just the basic products I can use to avoid single-use plastics. My biggest daily concern is eating and drinking. Aside from being the things I’m most likely to consume while out of the house, it’s also the biggest potential waste-maker.
Here’s what I keep to stay prepared:
- A Stojo collapsible mug. My commitment to bringing a mug with me 100% of the time changed with this Stojo mug. It’s an adorable 12 oz mug that collapses down into a disc just an inch high. No matter how small your bag, there’s a good change you can bring it along with you. Plus, I love that it stays sealed really well – you can toss it right back into your bag unwashed no problem! (It’s also great for storing food waste to compost as well.)
- To-Go Ware bamboo utensils. This bamboo utensil set is so handy to toss in the bottom of your bag to be ready at any time! This set was a gift I absolutely love, but a regular set of silverware pulled from your kitchen works just as well.
- A napkin. Can’t go wrong with a napkin – mess-cleaner, plate, coaster… you name it, the napkin does it!
- A wax wrap. While I’d like to carry around a full container, I just don’t like how bulky it is. A wax wrap is a more compact method that seals decently well. You can make your own wax wrap or buy them pre-made from brands like Bee’s Wrap. I made mine and I’ve been using it for about a year and a half and it still looks/works great!
- A produce bag. Because you never know when you might want to buy something that you can’t just stuff into your bag alone. I made this particular produce bag myself – so easy! – but there are plenty of good options online. I have some of these cotton mesh produce bags which are really durable.
- Eco-bags string tote. Aside from produce bags, it’s also nice to have a larger bag to pull out. I love the Eco-bags string tote – not only can it hold really heavy loads, but it’s also a great talking piece. People always ask where I get it and its a nice way to lead into a gentle zero waste schpiel.
- Small tin of lotion. I use a leftover tin to scoop a little bit of lotion into so I have it throughout the day. The lotion is equal parts cocoa butter, shea butter, olive oil, and coconut oil. (The recipe is flexible – I’ve omitted cocoa butter before when I didn’t have it and just ends up less solid.)
- DabHerbMakeup lip balm. I was sent this by accident while ordering a different product, so it is in a plastic tube but I really like this product. It’s a natural vegan lip balm with a minty tingle and a nice build-up of color thanks to the beetroot powder
What are your everyday must-haves to fight single-use plastics when you leave the house? Is your list similar – what’s different?