Perhaps the most recognizable symbol of sustainability is a reusable water bottle. Growing up I ALWAYS had one and rarely drank bottled water. I figured that bringing my water bottle with me meant that I was being “eco-friendly”.
But as my sustainability journey has continued, I’ve realized there are a few other essential items that I bring with me whenever I leave the house. It really comes down to creating a habit, placing these items somewhere you won’t forget them, and before you know it, they’ll be a part of your routine.
Most people these days have a reusable water bottle, in fact many people have multiple of them. You don’t need to go out and buy a new one, whatever you have in your cupboard will do. I have found it most helpful to use a water bottle that you truly love drinking out of. When this is the case, you’re more likely to remember to bring it and more likely to say hydrated.
Personally, I am more of a tea drinker but I know how vital a daily cup of coffee is for many people. Whether you make it at home or pick one up on your way to work, investing in a reusable cup is worth it. A vast majority of single use coffee cups are non-recyclable, meaning they end up our landfills and oceans. If you but a drink 200 days of the year and use your coffee cup for at least five years, you are reducing your waste by 1,000 CUPS!
The reusable straw has experienced quite the glow up these past few years. I’ve never been much of straw person (if that’s even a thing) but I still carry one with me. On the occasion that I feel like using it, or someone I am with wants one, it is there to help eliminate the need for a plastic one.
I’m a strong believer and advocate of the spork. Whether I’m eating soup or pasta, my spork comes through for me. Plastic utensils are apparent in almost every aspect of the food industry. Whether you order takeout, food to-go, or you’re just boxing up your leftovers, chances are someone will try to offer you plastic cutlery. I’ve had my Sea to Summit spork for many years now and I can’t even count how many times I’ve opted for using it instead of plastic.
A plastic grocery bag is the epitome of waste. Many people use them for the 15 minutes it takes them to drive home, only to throw them away moments later. If you can, I would opt for a canvas grocery bag. Reusable plastic ones will do, but when they become broken beyond repair, they too will end up in landfills. Another item to store in your grocery bag is a produce bag (or 10). Bringing your own grocery bag is a great start, but it seems a bit silly to just fill it with produce that is plastic bags. If you feel the need to bag your produce these can be a perfect fix. Another option is to just skip the produce bags all together. Plop those fruits and veggies right in your cart, no bag needed.
When possible I try to buy as much of my dry goods in the bulk section; nuts, seed, nutritional yeast, beans, oatmeal…you get the picture. For many of the items I use a small reusable bag. However, there are some bulk items that need to be stored in a jar. When I buy bulk tea, spices, or other fine items, a jar is necessary. I usually just leave my produce bags and jar in my shopping bag so they are always there in case I need to stock up at the store.
Besides a key, wallet, and phone, most girls probably have a few tampons or pads in their purse/bag. A simple and sustainable swap is to use a menstrual cup. Personally, I have been using the diva cup for about 3 years and ladies…it is a game changer! Not only can you wear it for longer, but it completely waste free. No disposable applicator and no harsh dyes or chemicals. (If you’re curious how to have a more sustainable period, check out my blog post HERE).
Unless I’m going out for a run, you can bet I’m bringing these items with me. I store my spork, straw and diva cup in my purse and put all the other items in the reusable shopping bag. While sometimes you may obtain unavoidable plastic, these items are sure to start you on a path to living more sustainably.