So you’ve might been wondering how you can help with the single-use items issue our world is currently facing. You might be feeling bummed out when you see all the trash that is being piled up floating in our oceans (read this) and know that turtles are getting straws stuck up their nostrils.
I feel ya.
I’m trying my best to eliminate single-use items in my daily life and found that carrying a few things with me everywhere has helped alleviate a portion of that issue.
Because you know, we are still human.
Here is my essential reusable products guide and ways to remember of bringing them with.
1. Reusable Bag
Having this one item has been clutch for me while grocery shopping, going on walks, participating in social gatherings, and encountering unforeseen circumstances. It makes it easier to transport items to and from your home or anywhere really.
On the plus side, many retailers provide incentives when you bring a reusable bag with you while shopping.
2. Water Bottle
This is crucial because drinking water is a pretty important activity in our daily lives. Many times when you think you are hungry, it’s the body that’s actually longing for some H2O. Bringing a 32 oz. reusable bottle around with me everywhere has made me drink more water because I can make a note of how much liquids I consume in a day. Almost everywhere you go, there’s a high chance you can fill it up with water or another beverage.
What’s also really awesome about bringing your own reusable bottle/cup with you is that many coffee shops will provide a small discount for your coffee order, just ask!
3. Eating Utensils
I carry a small pouch that carries my chopsticks, spoon, and fork. That’s it. It is minimal in weight and can be cleaned either at the restaurant with a light rinse or when you get home. It’s more hygienic because you know how well (or not) your own set of utensils are being cleaned.
4. Food Storage Container
My preference is using glass. Glass is heavier and can break more easily; however, it is better to store food in this material versus plastic especially if the food is still warm or hot. You can also heat up your food right in the same container for later consumption.
5. Cloth Napkin or Handkerchief
Cloth napkins are easy to clean and it is more durable than paper ones. You can find ones with designs or made of different materials to suit your style. And to clean, throw it in the laundry with your other linens.
6. Bonus: Straw
Personally, I rarely use a straw and feel that it isn’t as important to have for myself. That’s why I’m listing this as a bonus. Find the right one that suits your needs based on its material. Keep in mind the proper cleaning method and also how to carry one with you.
Tips on Remembering To Bring Your Reusable Items With You
Now that you’ve scored some sweet reusable items, second part is how to remember bringing them with you. These are tips on what has helped me personally. Let’s carry on.
*Always have a reusable bag in your daily pack or car.
This is one that you can do so easily. There are an assortment of bags out available that easily fold up for you to keep in your pack or car. On your way out the door and realize you forgot a bag? Go back inside and grab one. Doesn’t take much time and requires little effort in the grand scheme of things. It will help you develop the awareness of bringing one with you at all times.
*Create a mental list: phone, keys, wallet, (insert reusable item here).
When going out, you always check to see if you have your phone, keys, wallet. Why not just add an extra thing to that list? Water bottle, check. Reusable bag with reusable items, check.
*Bring a food storage container along when going out to eat.
When I know I’m going out to eat at my favorite restaurant and there tends to be leftovers, I bring at least two storage sets with me in my reusable bag. Even when getting boba tea, I bring my own Mason Jar that has a custom cap with a hole drilled in it for the straw.
*Keep a set of items at your office desk.
Although keeping our possessions to a minimum is the goal, convenience may be a better option. It can be a pain hauling your bottle, utensils, and container back and forth from home even losing something along the way. Having one set at the office will make sure that you don’t have to worry if you brought your items with you or not.
Start by keeping a reusable mug at the desk for those morning or afternoon coffee and tea breaks. It’s a simple step towards reducing your single-use waste flow.
*Feel empowered to make a choice.
If you forget your items and you are out eating, ask the restaurant establishment if they have reusable utensils to use. You can also make the decision of stating “no straws please,” after your server asks what you would like to drink. Or order less food than you usually do so you won’t have leftovers to take with you.
*It is about creating the habit.
Having the intention or putting in effort to remember to bring your items is the first step. Planning ahead has helped me stay on top of things and it actually feels strange now when I go somewhere without my reusable essentials. Check out Charle’s Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit to better understand how The Habit Loop works, which I go over in my post about 5 books that have contributed to my personal growth.
Lastly, building a sustainable lifestyle isn’t an easy task. So don’t beat yourself up if you forget to bring your reusable items with all the time. Make this a healthy habit that is continually being worked on. It is a process, let it be enjoyable. Again, feel empowered!