It’s been a little while but I promise that this post is worth waiting for…
During my zero waste travel series, I spoke about having a zero waste kit to take around with you at all times and ease the everyday struggles of avoiding the disposable, so I wanted to tell you about my kit and give some suggestions of things to put in your own. Now I rarely leave the house without a huge tote bag because editing down my material possessions is a never-ending battle, so I just tell myself that inevitable back pain is future Elysia’s problem. However for those of you that don’t enjoy your everyday life being a very impractical weightlifting session, you can adjust the base kit to what you believe are your everyday needs.
For me, my kit mostly revolves around eating and drinking because that’s just who I am, but depending on your lifestyle, you may also be interested in including things more suited to your lifestyle. My kit also changes day-to-day depending on my activities, but this is standardly what it includes.
Cloth Napkin: Shout out to all the messy zero wasters that are desperately missing their wet wipes. Not only does no more disposable wipes force you to use less wild hand gestures when eating to avoid covering yourself with condiments, you also get to carry around a cute patterned napkin. The napkin will be the base of your kit because it will also work at the vessel for which contains the rest of your items. Nobody wants to use a straw or a knife and fork that’s been sat at the bottom of their handbag for three days with the ever expanding amount of lint and balled up receipts, so why not protect them by wrapping everything in your napkin cartoon hobo style. For this reason you may want a large napkin, I actually use a small tea towel which works perfectly and it means that I didn’t have to go out and buy a whole new set of cloth napkins, or take one away from my home set. I have seen people with proper little cases and wraps for their day-to-day zero waste utensils so if you have one then use it, but otherwise this method works just fine (and looks very cute tied up with a little piece of string).
Utensils: As I said, my kit revolves a lot around food. I take my own lunches with me to work so will often need cutlery for leftovers etc. and on occasion I do treat myself to breakfast, or a snack throughout the day and I don’t want to take disposable plastic cutlery (but equally don’t want to eat noodles with my hands like a maniac). My utensil set consists of a metal straw, bamboo fork and spoon, and a set of chopsticks. Depending on what I plan on eating, I will sometimes grab a knife from home to bring along but I usually cope surprisingly well without one (probably why I need the napkin). You don’t need to go out and buy new ‘travel cutlery’ for this, whatever you have in your drawers at home is just as, if not more, effective. I happened to have the fork and spoon set before I started my zero waste journey so I just used those. Metal straws are something that I didn’t have before and are pretty much one of the first things I bought because they are such a an affordable and simple switch but they have changed my life. Since the plastic straw charge for businesses came into effect in the UK, I have noticed that you just don’t see them around in restaurants and bars any more, so carrying my own allows me to continue to drink my cocktails like a small child and not hurt the planet.
Drinking vessel: Who doesn’t like to stay hydrated? I should probably drink more water, but I do drink an excess of coffee and I’m sure if you’ve managed to find this blog then you know about the damage that plastic bottles and disposable coffee cups are doing. Most people will have a refillable water bottle somewhere at home, and if you don’t they’re pretty easy to come by. I have a Chilly’s metal flask style bottle which I love because as I say I probably don’t drink enough water but this one will keep a drink cold for 24 hours and a cold drink is far more appealing. It may seem like a bit of a burden at first to carry a full bottle of water around with you all the time, but if you carry a bag anyway then it really isn’t that much of a bother. Also if you don’t want to carry one about, you could keep one at work or in your gym bag for those times when you are most likely to want water to avoid you having to buy a bottle. Here in Oxford there is a #refill scheme where businesses that display the Refill Oxford logo will refill your water bottle for free, which saves pennies and the planet. As for that all important coffee, the Chilly’s bottle that I have is also a flask for hot drinks so I can double up if I want, but I do also like to carry a reusable coffee cup for emergency caffeine purposes. I got my cup from Home Sense of all places and it’s extra friendly because it’s made from bamboo with a silicone lid and sleeve, I do also have my eye on one of those glass ones with the cork sleeve that I’m seeing all over Instagram so we’ll see what my bank account has to say about that next month. Usually I will fill it up at home to drink on my way to work, then just keep it at my desk for all day hot drinks. Also some coffee shops give discount for using your own cup so that’s a bonus for anyone like me who loves a themed seasonal beverage but can’t be bothered to make anything other than instant coffee!
Bags and Containers: I’m not sure that I have ever been in to town and not purchased something, there always seems to be one ingredient missing from whatever I’m making for dinner or I fancy a snack from whatever food stall is outside my work so I like to carry something to put my shopping in. A simple fold away shopper takes up no room in your bag or pockets, I have a really big one from LOQI which is perfect. Always having a bag is also a good habit to get in to because I’m sure that everyone has been in the situation of getting to the supermarket and realising that they’ve forgotten their reusable bags then had to do some sort of grocery Tetris to carry all of their food home in their arms/ handbag. If it’s a work day then I will usually have my lunch box with me too which once empty, can be used to house the aforementioned food stall snack or loose produce from wherever I am shopping. Obviously I carry a whole load of bags and containers when I go to do a food shop, but day-to-day, one or two fold away bags and potentially my lunchbox is enough.
Anything else: As well as making sure that I can pretty much constantly be eating. I like to have the zero waste equivalent of some standard handbag necessities on me. Things like plastic free hair ties, feminine hygiene products, perfume and lip balm all make the cut in a zero waste kit. The kit is about putting together the things that you are most likely to need at a moments notice and not be able to easily get hold of a zero waste version while out and about so if you’re constantly in need of a pen, or a nail file or whatever it may be then put it in the kit. This is unique to you and what you need, also what you are able to do/ carry day-to-day. As always all change is good change, even if it’s a small one!