One of the things I think about daily, is what actions I can take to live more waste-free. Small little gestures like saying no to a plastic bag may seem like it's done in vain sometimes, but just imagine if we all did that. The change would be immense. Here our my favourite waste free items to pack with me whenever I leave the house. If you have some favourites, please leave them in the comments!
- Reusable Straw + Cutlery - One of the biggest complains from people I know living a waste-free life, is why are plastic straws still a thing. While they are still vital for people with certain disabilities, we don't all need them. Americans use 500 million straws each day! That's 1.6 straws per person, or the equivalent of enough straws to fill 125 school busses PER day. A simple step to help reduce this waste is 1) ask for no straw if you're out in a restaurant 2) Have a reusable straw (metal or plastic) in your bag if you feel the need to use them. Other utensils I like to take with me are a spoon and fork, because you never know if places only offer plastic options, or if you take something to go.
- Basket + Bags - We all know that we're supposed to bring our reusable carry bags bags with us, but lets be real, how often do we remember them? Instead of worrying about reusable bags, I love to take my large wicker basket purse (a la Jane Birkin) wherever I go. It's lightweight and versatile and can fit an entire shopping haul. For loose items like lemons or bulk items, I love to use mesh bags (like these). While not all grocery stores love you using your own bulk bags, most of the good ones don't mind. Just be sure to write down the codes in your phone so that the cashier doesn't have to do extra work on your behalf.
- Bandana - Bandanas are pretty much the best thing to pack in your bag, and sometimes one isn't enough. Perfect for drying your hands if paper towel is the only option, it's also great to use as a napkin, to wrap left over food in, and in desperate times, a tissue.
- Take Out Containers - While I don't always travel with to-go containers, I do my best to bring them with me when I know 1) We're eating in a restaurant and there might be the off chance of leftovers to bring home 2) I know I'll be out and about and get food as "take away". More often than not lunch cafes will have zero problem of you using your own reusable containers so long as they are clean and dry. Be sure to purchase one that is metal or good quality plastic as they are lighter to carry around than glass. Beyond this, there is the obvious travel coffee mug, and the versatile mason jar which can double as a bulk container (small health food stores will often let you use containers like this for bulk food items, just be sure to tare it first) and a coffee cup or water bottle in a pinch.
- Leaving No Waste - Things come in packaging, and unfortunately, this cannot always be avoided, but what can be controlled is how this waste is dealt with. Bringing home items like bus transfers, recipes, and anything you pick up along the way home, allows you to properly dispose of these items in the correct recycling container.