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Zero waste has been a challenge recently with everything that’s going on in the world.
Bulk stores have suspended their reusable container program, most grocery stores are not accepting reusable bags, and restaurants have stopped accepting reusable cups.
It’s hard to continue to push through when it feels like your goal is unachievable. I’ve been struggling with inspiration for this reason. It’s hard not to feel down in times like this.
I keep trying to remind myself that being perfect isn’t the goal. The goal is to do your best, not achieve the impossible.
Now that everything is starting to open up again ( & hopefully stays that way) I figured it was a good time to write about how to be zero waste out and about.
10 items to Pack to Help You Reduce Waste on The Go
1. Coffee/ Reusable Mug
I personally prefer to make coffee at home and bring it with me , especially now since no one is accepting reusable mugs.
Right now with everything that is going on I have been loving the quote
”Use it up, Wear it out, Make do, or do without”
I am learning to just wait until I get home to have my second coffee. Not to say I haven’t caved a few times but I am trying.
It still is great to always carry a reusable mug with you. Places are starting to accept them again and there is no harm in asking.
I like to have a stash of reusable mugs in my car in case I get the itch for a coffee.
I usually have a collapsible to go mug ( us link, well.ca) in my purse incase I’m not near my car. The collapsible mugs are not the easiest mugs to use but they are great when you’re in a pinch and take up very little space.
I buy most my to go cups at thrift stores for a fraction of the price.
2. Water Bottle / Cup
Before I started reducing waste I used A LOT of plastic one time use water bottles. I was never prepared and always ended up spending a fortune on water.
It’s safe to say I have learned my lesson!
I ALWAYS have a water bottle with me. I personally prefer stainless steel for on the go. They are lighter than glass and not breakable. Sometimes if we aren’t going out long I will pack 1 water bottle for my whole family. It’s easier and so much lighter.
They are so worth it!
3. Cloth Napkins
Seriously always carry a napkin especially if you have kids.
I usually carry a small spray bottle of water in my diaper bag as well. That way I can spray the napkin and easily clean my kids without a sink.
Even if you are not a messy person cloth napkins are great for snacking on the go.
Most fast food places will give you your meal unwrapped if you ask.
Ive been handed bagels, sandwiches , muffins, ect. all without packaging.
Only thing is I want my food wrapped in something. Cloth napkins are great to wrap your food in or use as a plate if you don’t have one.
I bought mine at Ikea but I highly recommend checking out thrift stores or cutting up old towels and sheets.
Cutlery is great to have in your bag or car.
I carry 1 fork and 1 spoon for each family members in my diaper bag. In my small purse I just carrying enough cutlery for me.
If you don’t have the space for full sized cutlery there are so many cool option out there for foldable cutlery.
5. Plate or Bowl
Honestly I do not carry a plate or bowl in my purse but I do in my diaper bag. I typically just use my cloth napkin or I eat at a sit down restaurant where they have real dishes.
I do carry a small plate for each of my kids in my diaper bag and I have a small stash of old plastic dishes in my car.
Sometimes a cloth just doesn’t cut it.
Before I started my day home I worked in a clinic attached to a mall. I ate my lunch in the food court every single day. Thinking about the amount of plastic bowls and styrofoam plates I used is horrifying.
If I was still working there I would be sure to have dishes with me each day.
A child sized plate works great for most purses or you can try checking out the camping section at one of your local stores.
I carry a straw with me everywhere I go. You can get collapsible stainless steel straws or silicone straws. I use silicone straws because they are light, easy to clean, and are easy to stuff into a small bag or wallet.
I hate drinking straight from the cup at restaurants. You just never know how clean they actually are.
Plastic straws are horrible for the planet and paper straws get soggy too fast. Not only that but paper straws are still one time use so I do like to avoid them.
I personally don’t go out much and I always find myself forgetting to tell my server I don’t want a straw. I am definitely working to make it a habit.
If you do forget to ask for no straw just tell your server you will keep your straw and use it for each new drink.
There’s no point in using multiple plastic straws.
7. Wet Bag
This one is the most important!
Once you’ve dirtied your reusable cutlery, dishes , cloths, ect. you need somewhere to put them.
I always carry a small wet bag with me to store all my dirty supplies. You can buy wet bags in multiple sizes or if you want something really small reusable sandwich bags work great.
Seriously you can NEVER have too many wet bags!
8. Reusable Bags
Most grocery stores are starting to accept reusable bags again. Even if yours is not, carrying a reusable bag always comes in handy.
You never know when you will come across an amazing store or mall and do some shopping. Reusable bags are just as important to use when shopping for clothes and other goods.
Nothing frustrates me more than when I have to carry a bunch of stuff to my car without a bag because I forgot mine.
I have a reusable mesh market bag in my diaper bag as well as a large stash of bags and bins in my car. I plan to get a foldable one for my small purse as well. There is no harm in being prepared.
I do not carry a container in my purse or diaper bag but I do store one in my car.
If you are heading out to a restaurant and are known to not finish your meal be sure to bring your own container.
This way you don’t have to waste food or use a disposable container. It’s nice not needing to bug your server as well.
You would be surprised how many restaurants thank you for bringing your own container.
They even have collapsible containers now.
Brining your own food reduces the need to eat out causing unnecessary waste .
If you know you will be needing something to munch on be sure to pack yourself a snack .
You know yourself and your needs best. Some of these items may not be as necessary for you as other. You want to be prepared but you also don’t want to feel overwhelmed by how much stuff you need to carry.
I find it best to have multiple bags and your car always prepared depending on what you are doing.
Your car should have lots of reusable bags , to go mugs , containers , and anything else you might need .
If you are unsure what you need start paying attention to what you use each time you go out .
Your larger bag/ diaper bag should be prepared for a full day out and about . This bag is great to have if you are off touring the city, taking your kids to a play date , or if you are nowhere near your vehicle.
Related- Zero Waste Diaper Bag Essentials
Small bag –
Your smaller bag should contain just the basics for running errands. My small purse usually has a cloth , hand sanitizer, some cutlery ,a straw, and my wallet. When running errands I usually bring a water bottle and just leave it in my car. If I need anything else I am able to either do without or run to my car.
If you are overwhelmed start small. Make one small change and make it a habit before starting something new.
Now that we are able to get back out there it’s time we all learn to do it ZERO WASTE.