Following on from our last post on how to start low waste living, I thought it would be appropriate to share our 'essentials' that we bring around on a day to day basis for avoiding all single use items!
When we first started out, we realised pretty quickly that food n bevvies (especially food) were causing a lot of our plastic waste. Because we were only looking at our individual trash, not household, the most frequent ones that were popping up was takeaway food and snacks we would get when out and about. I still can't believe I used to get bubble tea or Starbucks once a week, what a waste of unnecessary plastic! I personally always used a reusable water bottle, but I would forget to bring it super frequently, or wouldn't if was using a small bad. WHICH MEANS: plastic bottled water!!!! 'If', is not something you can think of when being zero waste, instead you need to be prepared for all situations. And though I know this sounds daunting, it really isn't. Here are the four things i bring with me on a day to day to avoid all single use items.
Easy. You have one at home; Only difference is you are aware that you are bringing it around with you to avoid plastic waste. Alex has this one that he got for free at the Volvo Ocean Summit, not that I would recommend getting freebees but in this scenario he needed it anyways and we are broke :). I have two I also got for free at clockenflap in 2016, one is so broken but I am determined to use it until I can't anymore. Both of ours happen to be metal (and not plastic) but just use a plastic one you probably already have. Only replace it when its absolutely thrashed, and when you get there you have such a fantastic range of plastic free bottle options so don't worry, it won't be hard.
WATER IS ESSENTIAL MY FRIENDS, so skip those pesky plastic bottles and drink microplastic free water instead. Use the app waterforfreehk to find free water all around Hong Kong, our post on it is featured down below!
If I'm going to be honest I think this one has saved us the most trash, plastic and paper combined. We are both big foodies and buy a LOT of food when going out, be it from cafe's or street food etc. We use the ecobox lunch boxes that come in steal, BUT NEED I REPEAT AGAIN THAT YOU HAVE TUPPERWARE.
Sorry for yelling. But you really don't need to spend a dime on your 'zero waste essentials' and can start doing this right now. The likelihood that you already have containers in your home is high, repurpose the ones you have and avoid making any new trash. It can be a bit daunting to ask for things in your own container at first, but you'll get used to it. (and at festivals we've found people always give us larger servings because they command what we are doing!). There are a few things you have to kind of let go of if you want to create as near to zero plastic trash as possible, like mars bars, but hey you can get an even larger bar of chocolate in tin and paper! This is also great to keep in your car when going out for dinner/lunch whatever so if you have left over food you can just put it in here and take it home. You avoid both food waste and (often) styrofoam boxes! We have a couple different sizes depending on what we think we may need them for, but I won't lie it has been a change to start using slightly larger bags to fit all this in. A lot of zero wasters use glass jars (as a water bottle and container so they carry less) but those weigh a lot so I prefer the bamboo and steal option. I will say though your container may make a lot of noise if its right next to your steal water bottle, gives a lil jive to your step. They are very aesthetically pleasing and good sizes as well (we have the cube option too), they also offer one's with silicone lids which are better for liquid items. All in all, not necessary, but we are big fans.
As I said, water wasn't as weird a swap, but you bet bringing around cutlery was. AND it was also one of the best decisions I've ever made. We have to To-go ware ones, but again you have cutlery at home, just wrap that up in a cloth and take it around! No need to spend any cash, but if you don't mind spending then these are definitely one's I would recommend. They are super light and easy to fit into any bag, my whole family uses them and they are a big favourite. Allows you to avoid any disposable cutlery! I usually also bring around a reusable metal/bamboo straw in it. I don't think a straw is necessary but it helps avoid the accidental straws given even when you do ask 'no straw please'.
This one has been the hardest to get used to, but like everything else once you get into the habit of it it's fine! Tissue waste is one of the largest things we (all of us) create on a day to day when going out and about, and is one we tend to never notice. Recycling these are really hard, and half the time we don't even make proper use of them. So, this swap is an important one. You may think that we don't actually use loads of tissue but we really do, so just bring a cloth/hankie around and you can avoid creating a bunch of trash. I would recommend a black one so even if it stains its not noticeable (learnt from experience).
and there ya go. Everything we bring on a day to day so that we avoid all single use items, paper or plastic, and minimise by a MILE the amount of trash we create. I highly recommend starting your low waste journey by slowly implementing these into your day to day life. Don't worry, it's a journey, we all forget, but you'll get into routine soon. Good luck! Now go into the real world and be the beautiful eco conscious person you are!
For a bit of info on plastic (perhaps as motivation) and to see me talk about my daily zero waste essentials in more depth/show the products you can check out the video below ☺️