These are some of my personal favorite zero waste necessities that I take with me everywhere I go. There are a few others things I usually have stashed in my car too, but I’ll just highlight a few things here. It can definitely be easier, and even more complicated. I’ll try to highlight several options and in different price ranges. I always want to recognize the privilege I have in being able to obtain these items. I know that it is not feasible for everyone, and that is why I will always provide multiple options in every price range – or even free!
Healthy Human Water Bottle – I take a water bottle with me everywhere I go. I have tried way too many water bottles in the last few years – Hydroflask, REI, Camelback, and some other random ones. Healthy Human sent me a little gift box in the summer of last year and I have been in love ever since! Their colors are beautiful, their sizes are perfect, and they stay hot and cold forever! I’ve put ice in mine and 24 hours late it still has ice in it, they are that good! They are also much more affordable than some of the other well known double insulated brands. These stainless steel bottles are especially good for hiking and outdoor activities. I found out very quickly on climbing trips that the reusable plastic water bottles would warm up my water in about an hour if we were out in the sun. When I was staying up the canyon for a day or two that wasn’t really going to work. They are a bit heavier than a thin plastic one, but they are much more durable and will last a lot longer.
Alternatives: You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a reusable water bottle. There are plenty at thrift stores for under $1. There are plastic ones that are generally less expensive too. But if you can afford it, I think investing in a nice water bottle is great because the double insulated stainless steel ones are pretty much indestructible and keep your beverage hot or cold longer. It could potentially be the last water bottle you buy.
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Reusable Napkins: I made the napkin in the photo out of some old thick scrap cotton fabric I bought about 10 years ago. I just folded over the edges a couple time and stitched once across each edge. If you don’t have a sewing machine you could hand stitch them or just buy some new or used. These have been so great, both in and out of the house. I usually stash one of these in my purse to use for whatever. I also keep a bunch in a drawer in my kitchen too. These have 100% eliminated the need for paper napkins. If there ever is a time I end up with paper napkins that will be thrown out if they are not used, I just place them next to the napkins in my drawer. They can be put in the compost bin once they are used. I use these occasionally when I’m behind on the laundry.
Alternative: Cut up old cotton shirts or sheets. They don’t have to be perfect or beautiful!
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Coffee Cup (or tea, hot chocolate, whatever): I love my KeepCup coffee cup! But there are so many options for this. If you are staying in for coffee you can bring a mug, or even ask if the establishment has mugs. If you frequent an establishment you will know what to expect after you ask once. You can bring a jar, use a water bottle, or any cup really. I won my KeepCup in a giveaway, and don’t know that I would have invested in one myself because of the price, but I’m glad I have one now. Another option similar to the KeepCup is a Joco Cup. Also an investment, but if you are looking to go 100% plastic free then it is a great option. They use silicon bands (not quite as affective as the cork on the KeepCup) to protect hands from heat and they also use a flexible silicon lid (the KeepCup has a plastic lid). My husband and daughter both use Joco Cups and really like them. Most coffee shops will give you a discount for bringing your own lid too. Don’t forget to skip the straw. They aren’t necessary anyway! Of course you can always bring your own reusable straw too. (I’d rather go without)
Alternatives: Some cheap ways to get a coffee cup other than a cheap secondhand mug (great choice!), is to use a mason jar with either a Cuppow or EcoJarz lid. They are lids that replace the flats on jars that are secured with a ring. I have 3 Cuppow lids and love them! If you want to be plastic free though then EcoJarz is a great option. You can also just go without a lid! Jars are about $.50-$1 secondhand, or you can get a 12 pack for about $10. They are pretty cheap, and you can use them for leftovers, snacks, regular cups in the kitchen, craft storage, and more. The lids I mentioned are also great to use as sippy cups for kids! Don’t forget secondhand too! I always see coffee cups (thermos type) for under $1 at thrift shops.
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Utensils: For the longest time I was using bamboo cutlery, but I really wouldn’t recommend this. The teeth on my knife broke off in my food pretty quickly and the tines on the fork were really hard to get clean. The spoons are usually not very deep so it’s hard to eat soups and stuff like that. I personally bought a few secondhand forks and spoons and just use those. They are going to last forever and they are really cute! I like to try to buy things secondhand whenever possible, and this is a great item to buy secondhand because they last forever! They were $.25 each too, can’t beat that!
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Stainless Steel Container: I use these for taking food places, taking food to go from places, toddler snacks, and buying in bulk. I love using these at the Whole Foods buffet and for picking up vegan treats at my favorite bakeries in SLC! If you are putting something in them that needs to be weighed, then don’t forget to have the store weigh them first or you’ll be paying an extra few dollars for the price of the container! This one (in the pic) is my all time favorite! It’s made by EcoLunchBox and it’s wonderful! I also have a round 2-teir Clean Planetware brand, a 2-tier rectangle EcoLunchBox (don’t love the size), and a round 3-tier Indian Tiffin brand that came with an insulated carrying bag. Most of these are pretty pricey, but there are some great alternatives (highlighted below). Again, I probably would have never invested in them myself but I got one as a gift and another I won in a giveaway. After I was able to try some out I purchased some more. I have several of each thing I’m listing in this post because there are 3 of us in my family and I also camp/hike/climb/rock hound a lot, so I require a bit more.
Alternatives: Anything you would normally put food in. Plastic Tupperware, glass Pyrex, mason jars, any container that saves food really. There are always options secondhand for next to nothing. If you are really set on getting a cheaper stainless steal one, I have seen them at World Market and The Container Store for around $10! These things don’t have to be expensive!
And that’s about it! I also carry tote bags and cotton and mesh drawstring bags, but I’ll save that for another post.
What kind of stuff do you take with you?