Let me start by saying that I am not completely “zero waste.” I do, however, try to live as closely to this lifestyle as possible. Also I despise plastic and what it is doing to our lovely earth, so I do everything in my power to keep it at arm’s length. For me, this meant making a few simple switches in my day-to-day. Keeping plastic at bay means never leaving home without a few essentials.
1. THE CANVAS BAG. If you’ve been around the idea of zero waste for any amount of time, you’ve most likely heard of The Trusty Canvas Bag. Seriously, everyone is raving about them. It may seem a little laughable at first, but this guy can be a no-plastic-please life saver. It is truly an all-purpose bag. Purse, groceries, thrift store, whatever. I usually take this one (which cam from the Colosseum in Rome) to either the library or the book store, when I need something more durable to carry all my heavy books around.
2. REUSABLE BAGS. I truly never leave home without my little reusable bags. I have two: the white one, which is smaller; and the one folded into a pouch that has Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring on it (and folds out to be huuge.) They both fold down into pouches that make them pocket-sized, so super easy to take places. They are always in my bag/backpack, even if I’m not planning on shopping. I never want to be caught in a situation and have to resort to plastic. It’s happened to me a couple of times in the passed few months. I just had to say “no plastic bag” and carry my items out, luckily I was only in for some cough drops (unfortunately packed in plastic ugh). Having it at the ready helps remind the cashier that I don’t want or need a plastic bag. Sometimes they don’t even ask and put the item in the bag anyway, and when I remind them I have my own they throw it away. Ultimate frustration. Quitting plastic bags is a must, because as I’ve mentioned before, plastic bags are one of the biggest pollution culprits.
3. STAINLESS STEEL WATER BOTTLE. I drink a ton of water, and my Klean Kanteen and I are basically inseparable. What was life before we met? A desert full of plastic water bottles, probably. Any reusable water bottle will do of course, but I love my Kanteen because there is no plastic involved at all. Just stainless steel and sustainably sourced bamboo. No more desert, no more disposable plastic water bottles.
4. STAINLESS STEEL STRAW, COTTON SQUARES. I always keep a stainless steel straw and some little cotton squares (yes I knitted them myself) on me in a little pouch. The straw is handy when I stop somewhere to get a drink or eat so I can successfully refuse a plastic one. Usually just saying “no straw” won’t get you anywhere, as the waiter/waitress can easily forget and put one in your drink along with everyone else’s. When you say “not straw please, I have my own” whilst waving it around, they are more likely to remember. It may also spark a dialogue about the plastic straw problem. The little cotton squares are multi-purpose. Spills, coaster, napkin alternative. You name it. While at home, I have several others that I use as a cotton ball alternative.
5. MASON JAR. I don’t always carry one with me, because then wait and space would become an issue. But, if I’m going out to eat I will either take a jar or Tupperware with me for my leftovers so I can avoid Styrofoam and other non-recyclable take away containers. But honestly wow, what a multipurpose tool. I use and reuse jars of varying shapes and sizes for everything. Tea, bathroom products, canned goods, leftovers, take away lunches, candles, bulk buying, plants, money, smoothies. The best part is, it can be washed out and used again and again and again, until it shatters. And even then, glass can be recycled infinitely without deteriorating. What can’t you do with a good ol’ jar?
It’s not about being perfect, it’s just about reducing my waste where I can. These few items prevent me from using one-time, disposable things that will later pollute our land and water. They keep my conscience and the earth clean.