Reducing your waste can be challenging when you’re constantly on the go. If you’re a late-riser, maybe you stop at Tim Horton’s every morning on the way to work, and if you spend your days going from meeting to meeting, maybe fast-food is your easiest lunch option. That being said, approximately 50% of plastic waste is only used once, and despite what we like to tell ourselves, 91% of plastic isn’t recycled—it ends up in landfills and then in the ocean. It’s vital that even the busiest of us make a conscious effort to reduce our waste.
The easiest way to reduce your waste when you’re constantly on the go is to keep a zero waste kit of go-to items in your car at all times. Here are a few things you should have in your kit to get started.
As of 2017, approximately 166 tonnes of plastic dining ware are thrown out—nearly an 8 percent jump from 2011, despite the fact that reusable utensils are one of the easiest eco-friendly switches to make.
At the moment, bamboo cutlery is leading the pack of eco-friendly utensils, but if you’d rather not spend money on new cutlery, you can also just stock your car with a set of your metal utensils from home. One fork, one knife, and one spoon are all you need, and you can wrap them up in a linen cutlery pouch to keep them from floating loosely around your car (where they’ll probably get lost).
A stainless steel container
Whether you bring your own lunch or need to pick up some last-minute takeout, a stainless steel container eliminates the need for any plastic wrap or wax paper. Many places are fine with putting your food in your own container as long as you ask them while you’re placing your order.
A reusable cup
Whatever you tend to drink most often should be the reusable cup you keep in your car. If you’re a coffee lover, KeepCup makes attractive, durable coffee mugs, but if you like cold drinks, a tumbler is another good alternative to those plastic Starbucks frappuccino cups.
A small mason jar
For all your compost, of course! If your lunch consists of compostable remnants, instead of tossing them in the garbage, stuff them in a small mason jar to empty into the green bin (or your garden) when you get home! Alternatively, you can toss your compost into your stainless steel container, just don’t forget to wash it out so it’s ready to use the following day. You don’t even need to buy one—just wash out an empty jam jar and voilà!, you have a compost jar!
A reusable straw
Whether you choose to go with stainless steel, bamboo, or at the very least, a funky plastic one, as long as it’s meant to be reused and not tossed with your empty single-use cup, it’s a win! You’d be surprised how often you actually use straws in a week, and it’s not until you become conscious about carrying a reusable straw and suddenly forget it at home one day that you notice. Save yourself the oh, crap! moment and keep it in your car kit!
A canvas bag
The easiest way to keep your zero waste car kit together is in a bag. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive, though I find if it’s something that fits your style, you’re more likely to remember to bring it with you when you step out of the car. Plus, a canvas bag doubles as a grocery bag if you forget to bring others with you!
The road to reducing your waste is long and eye-opening, but making a conscious effort to take small steps starts with your everyday mindless activities—like going out for coffee and meals on your lunch break. Keep a zero waste kit in your car and you’ll eliminate a significant amount of waste from your life with just one quick switch!