One of the most important keys to living zero waste is being prepared. If you always have a container or non-disposable bag, you’ll be equipped for most situations that might otherwise force you to make a difficult decisions. I try to spend a little time each night or before each outing thinking about what we might need and tossing it in my bag or backpack. But, there are some staples that are always with me no matter where I go.
What I carry in my handbag
Shopping bags and produce bags
I always keep a mesh shopping bag and a mesh produce bag in my purse in case I have an unexpected trip to buy groceries after work. They fold up quite small but have enough capacity for quick a large amount of shopping.
Reusable snack bags
Every morning I have a coffee and a cracker or two before heading into the office because I primarily practice intermittent fasting. So by mid morning I’m looking for a snack. I have two great options always available at home, a cloth Snack’n’Go bag and my reusable Russbe BPA free plastic snack bags to carry fruits and mixes of dried fruits and nuts. They work perfectly and are easy to clean.
Bamboo coffee cup
I think I feel most proud when I go to a coffee shop and present my own coffee cup to be filled instead of wasting a paper cup and plastic lid. I have the smallest version so that is can fit under the espresso machines in Europe and it works perfectly.
Refillable water bottle
Another of my favorite drinking items has to be my Dopper bottle. A friend gave it to me as a gift when she was living in Amsterdam. (These bottles are super popular there!) I love the interesting shape, but also that the top screws off to become a cup! It’s super durable and lightweight. An excellent present!
Yogi tea bags
As much as I like to have a morning coffee, I’m definitely more of a tea person. I love the taste of Yogi teas and I always have a few in my purse. The bags can be disposed of in the organic trash, so no waste produced. I each one for a couple of cups before throwing it away. They are strong enough for 2-3.
I found this great roll of thin cloth napkins in a culinary store. They are our favorite swap for paper towels and handkerchiefs. They can be washed and don’t get destroyed or fade. And it brings back nostalgia as I think about being a little girl and my dad giving my his handkerchief when I was sick. I keep one tucks into the back pocket of my purse for emergencies.
What I carry in my lunch bag
Glass food storage containers
At home we are two fitness and healthy food freaks, so we love preparing our own meals and keeping midday eating out to a minimum. I switched to glass food storage years ago to combat the harmful chemical that can be produced by plastic containers. This bamboo covered container is from Ikea. I could not be happier. They are durable and hermetic. And the best part, if I need to stop for groceries on the way home, I already have a container prepared to pick up any meats, cheese, or other wet goods.
I keep a set of durable metal cutlery in my bag and wooden chopsticks and their cloth case. I didn’t make a special purchase for these. Just what we have in our kitchen. This has been a lifesaver when I went to work on big projects at clients’ offices in the past and the kitchens can be unpredictable. I wrap them in my cloth napkin and keep them together with an elastic hair band. (So I’ll also always have one of those on hand!)
I invested in a set of linen cloth napkins for our dining room. Each time I bring lunch to work I also tuck one into my lunch bag. They are durable and easy to clean. And I love this color!
Refillable condiment bottles
I have one bottle for olive oil and one for vinegar from Sistema that I use over and over again. They’re from a small plastic container set that I purchased before going plastic free and they’re still going strong. My partners also has his set, they are hotel size condiments that he picked up during his previous job and they are enjoying a great second life at lunch containers. I also have a glass ketchup bottle from Heinz (not pictured) that I got through similar circumstances.
Metal bag clip
I got these amazing clips from Ikea. They are super durable and tight. I use them to close bag, to tidy up papers, etc. I’ve found it’s always helpful to have a clip handy, they have unlimited uses. And these are 100% plastic free. (After you eliminate the packing from Ikea.)
Non-zero waste items
I also have of course a few things in my bag that are plastic and will stay that way until their useful life is complete: a tube of blistex, lipstick, hair ties, and tampons (I haven’t yet switched to the menstral cup). And a few emergency savers like ibuprofen and Immodium (hey you never know where you will go!). And of course the life essential of my keys and phone. But, that’s it! I don’t go overboard, because I definitely don’t want to carry around a lot of things.
What do you have in your purse to stay zero waste? Let me know in the comments!
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