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Make your own zero waste kit – no money needed!

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Polly Barks
20 ways to go zero waste at home when you can't leave the house - PollyBarks.com

A zero waste kit is one of the easiest ways to kickstart your zero waste journey. Be prepared for whatever single-use plastics come your way!

The road to zero waste is paved with good intentions. Of course none of us want to produce waste, it’s just that – quite literally – the whole human experience is working against us. Whether it’s long days at work, shuttling kids to and fro, meeting up with friends for drinks, or whatever you’re doing today, it can be hard to stay zero waste while doing it.

Luckily I’ve come to find there’s one pretty simple way to drastically reduce waste when you leave the house. Honestly, the most underrated piece of advice about going zero waste is this: be prepared.

If you’re not prepared, you’re going to fail and waste (especially disposables) are going to start haunting you!

A zero waste kit is exactly the right way to do this!

Packing a good zero waste kit can really mitigate a lot of potential pitfalls. It was one of the first and best things I did when I decided to feel out the zero waste life.


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My zero waste kit essentials

These are what I bring with me every day when I leave the house, regardless of where I’m going. I keep them all in a tote to make the transfer between bags easy; but don’t worry, it’s a small enough bundle it even fits in my small purse.

I’ve included the specialty items I have as well as the free alternatives. Remember, you don’t need special products to practice zero waste – use what you already have in your house for free.

An Eco-Bag tote

I absolutely love these stretchy cloth bags as a part of my zero waste kit. It holds so much and it’s a very cute product that draws a lot of interest. Sometimes the biggest value of a zero waste kit is how it can start conversations with the people around you – this bag always does that!

I usually try to keep my full zero waste kit in this bag (unless it’s being used, obviously) to keep everything in order.

Free alternative: any tote bag you already own. It helps if it folds up small so it’s not super inconvenient to carry around.

A stainless steel straw

How to create a zero waste kit - PollyBarks.com

I went without for a while, but found they’re a good touch point for people who may only know zero waste through straw ban initiatives. (You should read that article to learn more about why straw bans are totally not the point of the zero waste movement!)

Read more:  6 simple steps for a zero waste bathroom

If you’d prefer not to support Amazon, Thrive Market also offers a set of stainless steel drinking straws!

If you feel the need for a straw but are worried about the sharp metal edges, silicone straws are another good reusable option. Glass straws are also an option but I’m definitely too clumsy to be trusted.

Bamboo cutlery

I received these as a gift and really enjoy this set of bamboo cutlery.

If you’re someone that doesn’t drive, you can appreciate how anything lighter can really help lessen your load! I generally walk around three miles round-trip to get to work, so cutting out any excess weight in my bag can actually be a real game-changer.

Otherwise, honestly, they’re probably not worth the trouble! Save your money for another, more practical swap in your zero waste kit! Daily, I remove them from the pouch and just wrap them in my napkin. Easy, easy.

Free alternative: a fork, knife, and spoon from your kitchen.

A beeswax wrap

How to make a beeswax wrap DIY - Polly Barks

Beeswax wraps are a fun alternative to plastic wrap when wrapping up or covering small amounts of food. I also use it as a plate when I’m out since it’s waterproof!

When I first looked into zero waste, I was really excited by all of these beeswax wraps; that is, until I figured out I could make it at a fraction of the price they sold it at with just a bit of beeswax.

Now I always have one beeswax cloth and one plain napkin one with me. Best of all, these were my grandmother’s. For about a year they sat around collecting dust – now, they come with me and get to be useful every day! 

Oh: instructions for making beeswax wraps here. Super easy.

A small Stasher bag

Zero waste kit - PollyBarks.com

I got one of these as an add-on to something else I bought and was totally convinced on them. Though pricey, these silicone storage bags are worth it!

They’re so versatile and so much lighter/smaller than glass jars or stainless steel containers. They’re also far more durable than plastic ziploc bags, so they’re a great replacement once you use up what you already have. I use them to carry snacks in the morning, microwave lunch, and hold compost I need to take home. 

Free alternative: an old ziploc tote.

A Klean Kanteen mug

20 ways to go zero waste at home when you can't leave the house - PollyBarks.com

I love this thing. Love love love. Whether I’m walking to work in the hot or cold, it keeps my drinks the right temperature for so long. (Seriously – I left my coffee at home one day. When I got home, it was still hot. Mind blown.)

Read more:  12 ways to start living zero waste for free

I think that when you’re creating a zero waste kit your #1 item to actually invest in is a mug. When you find something you really love, I think this is the best investment you can possibly make!

I also highly recommend the glass KeepCup if you’re looking for something a bit more stylish and don’t need it to be 100% travel-tight.

 Free alternative: any travel mug.

An Ello water bottle

Create your own zero waste kit - PollyBarks.com

I’m really bad about remembering to drink water throughout the day, so I try to keep this one where I can see it at all times to remind me. I love this one for its sheer durability and look, but it’s pretty heavy and can be a pain to lug around. It’s weighty but I’ve grown attached to it. 

Toss in some ginger/lemon/whatever herb is rattling around in the fridge to make the water a little more interesting.

Whatever you choose, stay hydrated. We can’t win the revolution dehydrated!

Free alternative: any cup or water bottle.

And that’s it! Your very own zero waste kit, perfectly tailored to you and how you live your sustainable life!

Make your own zero waste kit - no money needed! - PollyBarks.com

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