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Zero Waste On-the-Go: The Ultimate Guide for Your Kit

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A plain cloth pouch and a phone with a recycle sign on a marble top
A pouch for your zero waste kit

Source: ready made [11]

Plastics are so convenient: you can use them for shopping bags, processed foods, travel coffee cups, straws and even takeaway containers. They are so convenient that we only use them for 10 minutes on average before we toss them away [1].

You read that right. Let’s take a second here to think about it: why are we using so much plastic on-the-go when there are better, greener alternatives?

Well, the answer is simple.

We choose to use plastic because it’s the more convenient choice. So in other words,

We don’t have a plastic problem, we have a convenience problem.

Want to hear some good news? We already have the solution to plastic waste on our hands! Household products like cloth napkins, handkerchiefs and cloth grocery bags are all old-school solutions that produce little to no waste and are generally cheaper [2].

Yes, they seem inconvenient, but we as consumers must be willing to make the extra effort and opt against our convenience ways to fight plastic pollution. This means saying no to plastic, especially disposable ones.

To press the ‘start’ button on your plastic-free quest, you can start bringing your very own zero waste on-the-go kit [1]. That way, you can eliminate any potential garbage while you’re out and about, including that to-go coffee you get every morning before work or the plastic bag you end up using after forgetting to bring your eco-friendly shopping bag [3].

Unsure of what a good on-the-go kit should have? We got your back. Here are the essentials you should bring on the go:

1. Water Bottle

Drinking water is essential, especially when you’re on-the-go. Despite knowing this, we tend to forget to bring a water bottle when leaving the house, or worse, we choose not to bring one just because it's inconvenient carrying it around.

However, by purchasing bottled water everyday, you are increasing the amount of plastic waste that is accumulating in our landfills and seas. Plastic has a lifespan of around 500 years, which means those plastic bottles you purchase everyday still exists and continue to pile up [4]. Imagine how much waste you can save just by bringing a water bottle everyday.


2. Reusable Cup

A common part of our daily routine is getting that to-go cup of hot drink, whether it’s coffee, tea or chocolate, for a little morning pick me up. I bet you’re thinking “Why are to-go cups bad? They’re made of paper” and you’re right BUT not entirely. These coffee cups end up in landfills instead of being recycled because for the coffee cups to be waterproof, it needs to be lined with plastic [5].

I know, I was fooled too.

A person dropping a pink collapsable, reusable cup in front of white curtains
A collapsible, reusable cup

Source: cottonbro [12]

Not to worry though! Now is the perfect time to start bringing a reusable cup to your favourite coffee shop. Simply tell the barista you want to use your own cup rather than a paper cup. Nowadays, most coffee shops offer discounts for people who bring their own cups so there’s another plus point!

3. Plastic Free Lunch Boxes or Tiffins

Sometimes we don’t have the time to prepare meals so we opt to buy food from restaurants. Totally understandable. But if that’s the case, why not bring a lunch box or tiffin with you?

Well, let me answer that with a question. When you order food to-go, what does your food come in? Packaging. Instead of using single-use packaging, you can bring your own lunch boxes for take-away meals. They’re cheaper in the long run and of course, better for the environment [6]. A bonus point - with tiffins, you can store different foods at each level and this way, all your meals are separated in any way you’d like.

4. Reusable Cutlery

Everyone has that one drawer filled with plastic cutlery that they never use but don’t know how to get rid of. Plastic cutlery not only breaks easily, but it’s also extremely wasteful. Due to its size and weight, plastic cutlery can’t be recycled and end up in landfills or our waterways. It’s preventable and we can eliminate it by simply bringing our own [7].

On the plus side, at least you know the cutlery you’re gonna be using in public places are clean. You got your lunch box already, now combine it with a set of cutlery and you’re good to go.

Pro tip: If you can’t find a place to wash your cutlery after use, wrap it up in a cloth napkin and clean it when you get home.

5. Reusable Straws

Similar to plastic cutlery, we all know single-use plastic straws are equally wasteful and environmentally-damaging since plastic straws take 200 years to break down so reusable straws are a definite must-have in your kit!

To be fair, a lot of restaurants have banned or stopped the use of plastic straws but often replace them with paper straws which, let’s be honest, isn’t that great or functional [6]. Bring your own and I guarantee you won’t regret it. Plus, there are now sets of stainless steel straws that come with a pouch to carry it, a slim straight straw, a slim bent straw, a cleaning brush AND a big straight straw for BOBA DRINKS! So don’t worry, you won’t miss out on your weekly dose of boba.

Pro tip: If you can’t find a place to wash your cutlery after use, wrap it up in a cloth napkin and clean it when you get home.

6. Reusable Shopping Bags

Another must-have is reusable shopping bags. Sometimes you browse around the shops, thinking you won’t buy anything and that you’re “just looking” but next thing you know, you got three items in your shopping cart. So whenever you go out, always make sure to bring your reusable shopping bag.

A knitted, reusable produce bag filled with oranges
A reusable produce bag

Source: cottonbro [13]

Like any other single-use plastic items, plastic bags are hard to recycle and often end up in landfills or the ocean [8]. Rather than using plastic bags when shopping for clothes, going to the drugstore or getting groceries, use reusable shopping bags instead. There are now a ton of options for reusable shopping bags so why not have fun with it and choose the style that suits you, but make sure you stay loyal to them!


7. Silicone Zip Locks

We tend to use zip-locks as a way to organise our belongings when travelling or even going to work to pack your snacks or toiletries. Very beneficial BUT wasteful.

A better alternative is reusable silicone zip-locks! Don’t worry, I didn’t know these existed either. These zip-locks can be easily washed and used over and over again. Even though you might need to purchase a couple of different sizes, you’ll realise how few zip-locks you actually need [1].

8. Handkerchief or Cloth Napkin

You don’t realise how much tissue paper you use, or how damaging the production process is to our environment [9]. So, the next item for your zero waste on-to-go kit are handkerchiefs or cloth napkins. They are a great substitute for wet wipes, paper napkins and paper towels. Be sure to have more than one wherever you go just in case!

Pro tip: You can recycle old clothes and make it into cloth napkins!

9. Reusable Masks

Masks are essential! However, disposable masks are so wasteful and are currently polluting our oceans [10]. We are currently told to use masks EVERYWHERE but there is an eco-friendlier alternative: use reusable masks! They’re now being sold everywhere and you can have fun with it. There are masks with patterns, cartoon characters or even chic plain black ones. That way, you’re being safe but still keeping your street style!


Carrying these items around everywhere you go might feel like a lot of work and there are a lot. The key is to know what you have scheduled for the day. For example, if you don’t feel like getting a cup of coffee, there’s no need to bring your reusable cup. Once you get into the habit of knowing what you need, you’ll have no problem giving up convenience to become more eco-friendly.

As a bonus, you’ll realise how much money you’ll save by making these small extra efforts.

With this zero waste on-to-go kit, you’ll be ready to start your quest for a greener lifestyle.


Want to find out more about making your own kit? Write in our forum HERE.





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