Ooook, this is an area that is a big goal of mine to improve in 2020! I think creating less waste while I’m out and about is the a hard(er) thing for me, and I’ll share why later, but I wanted to share some tools that are helpful in reducing your waste while you’re out and about and on the go!
I have in my car what I consider my “low waste kit”. These are the counterparts to the biggest sources of waste for me. By always having these on hand, I’m ensuring that I’m always prepared and always able to refuse the plastic. I keep everything in a (reusable) bag in my car, so I’m always prepared! (Maybe you can or cannot tell that I’m a 6 on the enneagram….)
I’m pretty sure this should just be a gimme on any low/zero waste list ever. Seriously. I’ve mentioned it on as least two of my posts, pretty sure. But I think it’s worth mentioning here, because it’s a necessity while you’re out and about. So. Often. I’m out and just need to grab something from the store, and if it’s not preplanned, I might not have a bag with me. I now never worry about that because it’s just always in my car! Along with two reusable produce bags just in case I need a bulk item or want to just grab something small.
I bought two packs of bamboo utensils awhile ago, and while they aren’t items we use every day, I’m thankful for them when we need them! Either getting ice cream or cutting pizza at a casual place or splitting a crepe at the market, these little things come in handy. I will say this- do not feel like you need to go buy bamboo to-go cutlery. It is not necessary. If you have extra in your drawer you can spare, use those! Or, grab some at the thrift store next time you’re there! These are all such great options that are free/super cheap and can help cut down on using any plastic ware.
Another one I feel like is pretty obvious. This one may not even be necessary if you don’t mind just drinking straight from the cup. For some reason I really hate that, and also with two toddlers- straws are necessary. This is one of the first swaps we made, and it’s been great. We have stainless steel straws, and we either say “no straw, please” or don’t grab one if we’re out. Iced coffee, soda, water, juice, whatever it is- we use plastic straws for nothing. There are so many options out there- glass, stainless steel, bamboo, silicone- pick your fave and ditch the plastic!
I’ve been bringing my own coffee mug with me consistently for the past few months now. It’s one of my favorite swaps because it keeps my coffee hotter/colder than coffee shop cups. What’s also made it easier is that baristas tend to have a really positive reaction when you bring your own cup. (I bring my own cup for to-go soda now, and I’ve never been told no, but they’re definitely a little more wary.) We had one I rarely use anymore, so instead of purging it, I just put it in my togo bag. That way if I’m out and hadn’t planned on getting coffee, I still have a reusable mug with me.
I have a hydrocell I’m obsessed with, and I pretty much carry that everywhere with me. But again, I had an extra in the house, and I just tossed it in my to-go kit. This way, again, if I ever happen to forget, I’ll have an extra and will never need to buy a water bottle or use a plastic cup.
This doesn’t have to be anything flashy or fancy. If you have an extra tubberware container in your home, just use that! And, it can even be plastic (GASP) if that’s what you already have. There’s no need to buy anything special for this, but it’s helpful to keep this in your car. You can use this to take home any leftovers from your dinner out, grab a cinnamon roll on the go (my fave) or a cookie from the bakery at the grocery store.
This is one the I have the hardest time with because it also involves people looking at you weird. It’s not a good reason to not do it, but it’s my natural tendency to want to blend in and just not be super noticed. The thought of someone staring or thinking I’m weird makes me want to hide in my house. BUT I’m getting over it this year and challenging myself to do this more. At the end of the day, people will probably not think anything at all, or you’ll challenge them to think more about why you’re doing that in the first place. At the end of the day, take away food is put into containers for a few minutes before going and sitting in a landfill for thousands of years. It’s easy enough to prevent, and I think that’s worth people looking at me a little funny.
And there ya go! Throw all of that in a reusable bag, pop it in your trunk, and you’re well prepared for whatever waste you may face while you’re out and about. This doesn’t guarantee no waste while you’re out, and I certainly still create waste while I’m out. But it’s a huge step in changing your mindset and being prepared.
I will say, this low waste kit might get you some looks. Not the kit itself, but actually using the items. I was really intimidated last year when I started taking my coffee mug with me. Would they give me a weird look? Say I couldn’t use it? Instead of any of that, I found most coffee shops, especially small local ones, to be stoked I was being sustainable and eco-friendly. Bags are pretty commonplace, so while I know the cashiers at my local big chain grocery store get annoyed with it, I don’t actually care. My big one to work on this year is the take away container for food. I’ve done this a few times, and I have and gotten a slight look. It’s a flaw of mine that I care way too much what people think about me. Choosing to not care and instead, to care more about my convictions than what someone may or may not think of me for .3 seconds. If anything, maybe I’ll motivate people to think about why I’m doing it in the first place!
Are there any items I missed or anything you do to reduce your waste on the go?
If you’re wanting to check out any more low waste posts, make sure to check out the low waste swaps we made in our bathroom and in our kitchen! And if you are wondering where to buy any of the above items, I have some of my favorites linked here!