When adopting a new lifestyle of any kind, preparation is always the key and zero waste is no different. It’s easy to get caught out at the supermarket with a basket full of goods and no reusable shopping bag to place them in.
Here is a list of must-haves that will make your zero waste life just that little bit easier. All of these items are very transportable and light weight.They won’t take up much room in your luggage whilst travelling and most of them can be carried in your daily handbag.
1. Refillable water bottle with filter – Probably my most favourite item in my tool kit. I specifically choose to use the Water-To-Go water bottle because it has a (recyclable) filter that allows me to fill my water bottle from any water source (except sea water). It allows me to drink clean water wherever I am in the world. It is economical and cuts out my need for plastic bottles entirely (I actually carry two of these bottles).
2. Cutlery – I suggest to invest in a good quality set of cutlery. Last time I travelled (pre-zero waste) I purchased a plastic spork (a fork and spoon in one). At the time, I thought this was a fantastic little utensil. It was light and easy to use. That is until it broke. This time I went to my local camping store and bought a cutlery set (knife, fork and spoon) made from strong 7075-T6 aircraft aluminum alloy and weighing a total of 37 grams. Not likely to break and nice and light. Along with my cutlery, I keep a reusble pair of chopsticks.
3. Reusable takeway container – I like to carry a reusable BPA free plastic container for food storage, leftovers or otherwise (I actually carry two now). It is light weight and eliminates the waste produced from using takeaway containers for leftover food.
4. Reusable grocery bags – I have both a nylon mesh bag and my handmade cotton calico bag. These bags are handy for fresh produce but can also store other items that would normally require some kind of packaging, plastic or otherwise. Even as a traveller, you still do grocery shopping. Just on a much smaller scale.
5. Reusable fabric totes – I carry my fabric tote and reusable shopping bag at all times. Again these are great for avoiding plastic bags at any type of shop. I also use another fabric tote as my laundry bag. If I get my laundry done by a service, I ask them to package my clean clothes back into my tote rather than wrapping them in plastic.
6. Shoe bag – I carry an old tote as a bag for my dirty shoes. Once upon a time I would have used a plastic bag for this. However, it is just as easy to use a fabric tote and if your dirty shoes soil your tote, just chuck it in with your next wash.
7. Stainless steel straw (and tube cleaner) – This is essential for anyone who can’t drink a beverage without a straw. Back in my lipstick wearing days, I was one of those guys. Nowadays, not so much but I still believe it is an important item to have in your zero waste tool kit. I just love that this reusable item is available to us!
8. Handkerchiefs – Handkerchiefs are a timeless yet almost forgotten tradition. They represent an old way of thinking where items were purchased with the intention to reuse over and over. These days, they have been replaced by single use tissues that are extremely and unnecessarily wasteful. Let’s bring the handkerchief back! They are the perfect way to avoid creating waste from using tissues, serviettes etc. And no, they are not dirty. Just launder them as you use them.
9. Tea Infuser – If you love to drink tea like me then a reusable tea infusor is a must. You can buy tea in bulk almost anywhere in the world and it usually tastes a lot better than tea in tea bags. I’ve even seen a backpacker once travelling with his own espresso maker, now that’s comittment!!