There is no such thing as a list of definitive eco “essentials” for when you’re outside of the house! What you need in your bag every single day completely depends on what you do every single day.
In this episode, I discuss how to produce less waste whilst on the go, without having a bag that weighs an absolute tonne! You’re welcome.
Don’t forget to sign up to my mailing list to download the resource to use alongside this episode: The Out and About Waste Audit.
Hello and welcome to everyday ethical, a podcast about all of the small ways that we can be more sustainable, without the pressure to be perfect.
I’m your host Bethany Austin and I’m an ethical lifestyle blogger who talks about everything from slow styling to cruelty-free cleaning.
Today is a short and sweet episode where I’m going to be talking about how we can be more eco-friendly on the go and the essentials that you need in your bag whilst out and about to reduce your waste. I know that this is something a LOT of people struggle with, even though in 2019 we all seem to own reusable water bottles and travel mugs!
So, I’ll go back to the basics and we can figure out what we REALLY need to be more sustainable on our adventures. Let’s dive in.
For most people, reducing waste in the home is the easy part. It’s when we leave the house, head out on our travels or even just go to work every day that our grand plans of being more eco-friendly often fall apart. We forget our travel mugs and end up getting a latte from Starbucks anyway. Or we’re craving a burrito and leave the shop with 15 napkins, 3 sets of plastic knives and forks and 12 layers of wrapping all in a plastic bag too!
Being out and about and being eco is a real challenge for a lot of people, myself included sometimes. And it can sometimes feel like, in order to be able to be sustainable on the go, we need to have a whole suitcase of reusable goodies with us at all times. However, that just is not true, I promise. In this episode I’ll outline all of the different things that you can do to be more eco-friendly, without telling you that you HAVE to do all of them. Instead, you’ll learn which ones are important for your lifestyle personally and will be left with the tools you need to make some shifts in your daily habits.
If there’s one thing that you need to understand before starting this episode it’s that everyone is different and there are no cut and dried “essentials” that every person needs in their bag, okay? Have we got that straight?
When I first started on this ethical living journey of mine, I swear to you my handbag weighed at least a stone every single I left the house. And boy oh boy did I spend a lot of money on so called “essentials” for whilst I was out and about doing my thing. But do you to know the truth? I probably used about 25% of the stuff. I mean, I was carrying a reusable water bottle, a tin lunchbox in case I needed to get food to go, a travel mug, metal straws and butt tonne of other stuff when in reality at the time I was just going to and from lectures and probably wasn’t going to use any of it. Except maybe the water bottle!
Eventually I got fed up of having a sore shoulder and knew that I had to start cutting down what I was carrying with me, just to make the whole thing more practical. Ultimately, I needed to find my truly essential “essentials”.
So that’s when I did a little bit of an out-of-house waste audit. For one week I stopped carrying almost all of my eco paraphernalia apart from the things that I already knew I used all the time and I just assess exactly what waste I was created and how. So I kept my water bottle in my bag because I knew I used that every day, but I also realised that I definitely needed my travel mug. When I was heading out of the house I found myself often craving a to-go coffee but that I wasn’t able to get one because I didn’t have my travel mug. Similarly, I found that I was left juggling shopping that I grabbed on my way home because I didn’t have a tote bag with me.
By really stripping back the stuff that I was carrying in my bag in an attempts to be an eco-warrior, I was able to find out what I actually needed and save myself a hell of a lot of space in my bag.
That’s why I would massively recommend doing an audit of your own waste, before investing in a tonne of eco travel bits and bots, or as a way to cut down what you’re carrying around with you every single day. BUT don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you alone to figure out how to do that, of course. I’m here to hold your hand through as always!
So what I’ve done is created a guide to help you through the auditing process. It’s called the “Out and About Waste Audit” and you can get your hands on it for completely FREE by signing up to my mailing list to receive my newsletter. Every time I post a podcast episode I also do a “show notes” blog post, where I link anything I’ve mentioned and also do a full transcript of the episode. That is always in the description box of every podcast episode or obviously you can just type in bethanypaigeaustin.com and find it. What I’ll do is I’ll leave the signup link to my mailing list near the beginning of that post and there you’ll be able to receive your free “Out and About Waste Audit” which you can use alongside this podcast episode if you wanna.
But for now I’m going to chat about allll of the options that you have for being more eco-friendly on the go and the switched that you can make, and hopefully using the waste audit you’ll be able to narrow down which ones you need to focus in on. Or, ya know, go ahead and do all of them, but be warned that your bag is gonna be heavy haha.
Let’s start off by talking about drinks, which is something that most of us need whilst we’re on the go. Obviously, the thing that most people should probably invest in is a reusable water bottle. We’ve all seen the problems that plastic pollution is causing to our environment. According to Earth Day Network, “ONE MILLION plastic bottles are bought EVERY MINUTE around the world — and that number will top half a TRILLION by 2021. Unless something seriously changes. And also, did you know that less than half of those bottles end up getting recycled”.
Not buying plastics bottle and instead buying one that’s reusable is a super simple switch that you can make that, usually, doesn’t cost too much money. If you want to be a total eco babe then it’s great to opt for materials that aren’t plastic, like stainless steel or glass for example. T K Maxx usually have a really good range of those types of bottles available and they’re usually not too expensive. That’s where I’ve got all of mine from actually.
Alternatively, if you are out and about and have forgotten your water bottle – we’ve all been there! – if there’s a Boots near you, they sell the brand Just Water (ya know, Jayden Smith’s water company?) who make their bottles from paper and their caps from sugarcane. So that’s a good shout if you’re in a pinch.
If you’re anything like me, you might not just drink water when your out and about. If you like grabbing a tea or coffee and then getting it to-go then, and again this is an obvious one – carry a reusable travel mug with you. Apparently “Half a trillion disposable cups are manufactured annually around the world; that’s over 70 disposable cups for every person on the planet”. So, you should definitely try and do your bit to reduce the amount of disposable coffee cups you use. Much like with the bottles, you can get glass travel mugs which are a more eco-friendly options that their plastic alternatives. The reason for this, is because, once you’re done with them, or if they break (which they shouldn’t because they are usually made of thick glass), they’re much easier to recycle. Whilst plastic has a limited amount of times it can go through the recycling system, glass can be recycled an infinite number of times. If you like the sound of that, Keep Cup mugs are a great option.
However, again, if you do forget your travel mug one day and it’s possible, just drink in instead! That way, you’re using a mug instead of one of those paper cups which actually often contain plastic and therefore aren’t biodegradable. Consider those 15 minutes an act of self-care and planet-care!
If you often buy drinks with straws, if you’re a frappuccino typa person, then you might wants to add reusable straws to your out and about kit. I know, I know, everybody goes on about them. But they really are a simple way to reduce your plastic waste, even if only by a teeny amount. I’m sure by now you’ve seen the stainless steel straws, but it’s also possible to get bamboo straws too. Now, bamboo is the better option in terms of sustainability because it is a really sustainable material: It grows really quickly and doesn’t require a load of water either.
Another thing to consider, especially if you’re the type of person who spends long stretches away from your house, is food! Now, for me, this one isn’t such a big deal because I work from home, but if you’re out getting lunch everyday and not eating inside restaurants, you can only imagine the amount of waste that you’re producing. Especially when they throw in 50 napkins with your food too! Honestly, take away food is a totally land mine when it comes to reducing your waste. So, obviously, the best thing you can do is make your own food and bring it with you. But blah blah blah…Who has the time or inclination? So, instead, just bring the lunchbox. That way you can ask the restaurant to fill your reusable pot, instead of a disposable one.
It can feel a bit awkward at first but I promise you get used to it! I’ve just stopped being embarrassed by these things now haha.
If you’re really dedicated to reducing your waste in this area, then you could even kick it old school and get yourself some like handkerchiefs to use instead of napkins. Obviously you’ll be able to buy them online (again, I’ll pop some options in the show notes) BUT you can even just cut up on old t-shirt or something in squares to use too. That way you won’t have to get napkins when you get a to-go lunch, and they can also just be used as tissues too. Just use them and pop them in the wash when you get home.
As well as that, a tonne of places now sell reusable travel cutlery in a bid to help people ditch those rubbish plastic ones that break as soon as you use them anyone! They’re super easy to find made of plastic and bamboo (I’ll link some examples in the show notes) but, obvs, you don’t NEED to get specific travel cutlery. Just your usual knife and fork chucked in your bag will do just fine.
Finally, another thing that I definitely always have in my bag is, well another bag! As much as I may insist I’m not going to do any shopping, it’ll usually be on those days that I see my favourite cereal on sale or end up in some incredible charity shop with a bunch of things in my basket. For these moments, you need your tote bag, my friend! It doesn’t have to be fancy, it can just be a free one that you got at a career fayre when you were 15, or you can go for something like the Atlus and Ortus shopper tote which is sleek, stylish and practical! The truth is thought, a tote bag is a tote bag, right? Even if you’re reusing an old plastic one or a bag for life, that’s a huge step in the right direction!
Ps keep some in your car too if you drive for extra back up.
If you often find yourself in a impromptu food shop Shopping situation, having reusable produce bags to hand is also brilliant. That means that you can still buy all of your produce loose, without the plastic wrapping, but also without the faff of having to juggle, oh I dunno, 7 sweet potatoes or whatever. But, obviously, whether you get produce bags depends on how often you find yourself juggling 7 sweet potatoes, ya know?
So those are all of the things that I would personally consider adding to your “on the go” eco-warrior kit. Before I head off, let’s quickly recap what they are:
- A reusable water bottle
- Travel mugs
- Reusable straws
- Travel cutlery
- Lunch boxes for filling at restaurants
- Handkerchiefs to use as napkins and tissues
- Tote bags
- Produce bags
Like I said, you totally do not need to use all of those items, and you should definitely assess which ones match up with your lifestyle by doing my audit worksheet. Otherwise, you’re just buying things for the sake of it which is the complete opposite of sustainability. I mean, learn from my mistakes!
If you do decide to make any of those switches – to get yourself some travel cutlery, to start only getting coffee when you have your travel mug with you – then I would love to hear from you and to be inspired by your amazingness! Just tag me in on Instagram (I’m @bethanypaigeaustin which will also be linked in the show notes) and use the hashtag #everydayethical and tell me what eco change you’ve been making whilst on the go!
I really hope that you’ve learnt something new in this episode and that it’s made you stop and think about an area of your everyday life in a different light. If it did, please leave me a glowing review on iTunes, it means that people are more likely to find the podcast and become eco-warriors, so your review is basically saving the planet. But seriously it really does help me out so I would massively appreciate it. Plus, please share this episode with all of your pals online and off!
I’ll speak to you guys next week!