When you first get started with zero waste, its tempting to go out and buy a whole bunch of pretty new "zero waste" things, but you might just be surprised with what you do and don't need. Our top tip is to figure out what is essential to you, what will make the most impact, and what you already own. You also need to think about what will be easy for you when you're just starting out. Do you get a takeaway coffee everyday? If so, making the swap to a re-usable coffee cup might work. Do you use plastic supermarket bags every other day? Then taking a re-usable bag might be the best way to start.
Below we have got a list of what we like to think of "the essentials" in a zero waste kit, but these many or may not be the same for you.
- A reusable coffee cup
- A re-usable supermarket/shopping bag
- A few re-usable produce bags
- A re-usable water bottle
- A re-usable straw
- A set of reusable cutlery, or a spork
- A small cloth napkin or handkerchief
With these few basics you can almost completely avoid unnecessary waste when out band about. If you have the space we also recommend carrying a small re-usable container (stainless steel, glass or an old plastic one will do). This can be useful if you are getting a meal out and have food leftover, or if you want to grab some items from the deli. Or if your work colleague has cupcakes.
If you were going to get everything new straight away, you might find yourself a little light on coin. Instead, invest your money well with high quality products first time around, and build your kit slowly. The first zero waste item I ever purchased was a re-usable shopping bag when I was 13 or 14, then I slowly added things like a keep cup when I was 18, cutlery a few years later, and now I carry a full kit with me most of the time.
Here are some suggestions for what you might already be able to find around your home:
- A re-usable mug can be a simple glass jar with old rubber bands wrapped around it, like this one.
- Use old cutlery from home instead of buying a special travel cutlery kit
- Make a re-usable shopping bag from a old t-shirt, grab a Boomerang bag kit, or grab one from our ugly bag stand
- You can make DIY produce bags from old material if you have a sewing machine
- Plastic water bottles are totally fine to re-use if thats all you have. Remember every time you re-use it its helping reduce more being produced!
So what does my zero waste kit look like? Well since you asked...
PRODUCTS WE RECOMMEND:
- Cuppa Coffee Cups - Polypropylene (an easily recyclable plastic), NZ company + local artists (NZ & Aus)
- Flox - Stainless steel, NZ designer
- Joco - Glass & silicone, Aus company
- Oasis - Borosilicate, glass, silicone, stainless steel
- Sol Cups - Glass & silicone, Aus company
- Sup NZ - Stainless steel, NZ company
- Caliwoods - Stainless steel, bamboo
- Camel straws - Glass
- Little mashies - Silicone
- Go Bamboo - Stainless steel