You likely won’t have success avoiding single-use plastics for very long without toting a few reusable items with you on the regular. But which reusables should you keep on hand? When do you need to carry them? Where should you store them? These are all questions that can be answered with the trusty zero waste on-the-go kit, curated to meet all of your typical daily needs, and conveniently assembled to carry with you anywhere and everywhere.
We’ve decided to publish this guide now (in December) because we think building an on-the-go kit would make kind of a perfect gift for friends and family. It’s altogether super personal, thoughtful, and low waste!
Why make your own on-the-go kit versus purchase an already assembled kit?
If you want to carry your kit with you as frequently as possible (as is recommended for avoiding all those unexpected disposables), you’ll find it’s a lot easier to carry a minimal kit that covers only your specific needs rather than a pre-assembled kit that aims to be comprehensive. Why carry chopsticks if you don’t ever use them?
What to include in the kit
Unless you live in an area that doesn’t have clean drinking water, your kit should include a reusable, refillable water bottle.
Free option | Pick up a branded “swag” water bottle at a conference or fair, or refill your disposable water bottle a few times before discarding.
Investment option | Look for water bottles at thrift stores, or purchase a new bottle from your favorite sustainable shop!
Good Intent option | 20 oz. Insulated Bottle
If you ever get non-water beverages when you’re out and about, you’ll need a tumbler. If you’re a hot beverage drinker, an insulated tumbler will be worth your while.
Free option | Pick up a branded “swag” tumbler at a conference or fair, or repurpose an old spaghetti sauce jar.
Investment option | Look for a used tumbler at a thrift store, or purchase a new tumbler from your favorite sustainable shop!
Unless your diet is limited to sandwiches and burritos (no judgment), you’ll likely need some eating utensils in your kit.
Free option | Reuse disposable utensils from your last take-out meal, or grab some silverware from home (keep in mind that TSA prohibits metal knives in carry-on luggage).
Investment option | Grab a few utensils at a thrift store, or purchase some bamboo utensils from your favorite sustainable shop! Bamboo utensils have the added benefit of being lighter and a bit easier to tote.
Most people can get away without straws, but if you’re a Boba fanatic or you enjoy an occasional cocktail that requires a good stir, you’ll want to add straws to your kit.
Free option | Reuse a disposable straw.
Investment option | Purchase a reusable straw set from your favorite sustainable shop! Bamboo straws are light-weight, but some prefer the feel of steel straws.
If you eat or order food anywhere other than home, you’ll likely need to add a food container to your kit. Your food container can carry restaurant leftovers, your daily packed lunch, or your takeout order!
Free option | Take leftovers from your friend’s dinner party and don’t return their Tupperware. 😜 Or for snacks, use an old spaghetti sauce jar.
Investment option | Look for a food container at a thrift store, or purchase a plastic-free food container from your favorite sustainable shop. We’re big fans of steel food containers because they are relatively lightweight and durable, but keep in mind that they can’t go in the microwave.
Do you like to clean spills with your t-shirt and lick gooey/crumby messes off your fingers? No? Then you probably need a napkin in your kit.
Free option | Make your own napkin with an old towel or shirt.
Investment option | Find a cloth napkin at a thrift store or vintage store, or buy a set of new napkins from your favorite sustainable shop!
Good Intent option | Cloth Napkins (made from upcycled denim!)
A bag will serve two purposes: (1) it can hold all the other items in your kit, and (2) it can serve as an alternative to disposable plastic or paper bags. If you’re someone who makes unplanned grocery runs or shopping trips regularly, you might need more than one or two bags in your kit.
Free option | Keep and reuse a disposable bag, or make your own bag with a repurposed article of clothing.
Investment option | Purchase a bag from your favorite sustainable shop! Our string bags fold up nice and small, and have a 40lb capacity!
Good Intent option | String Bag
You might need more than just these basic items in your kit. Try to pay attention to how you generate trash when you’re away from home, and consider whether a reusable alternative exists. If you can’t come up with anything, reach out to us! We’d love to help you brainstorm.
Does our list pretty much describe your needs exactly? Then check out our pre-assembled on-the-go kit!