As mentioned in last week’s instalment, reducing waste and living a more eco-friendly life does not stop when you leave your house.
It is important to consider the waste you create while out and about. The key to reducing the latter is preparation and the formation of new habits.
First you need to be aware, where and when you create waste during your everyday life, you might have the habit of buying coffee or lunch to go and bottled water. For all of these there is an alternative, which will help you reduce waste. For me, my water bottle is an essential part of my daily life, I take it with me everywhere I go and simply refill it during the day. This replaces the use of single use plastic bottles, which do not only create huge amounts of waste but are also potentially harmful to your health, as microplastics can be released into the water.
There is an array of water bottles available on the market, from small to large, insulated and colourful bottles. Personally I would recommend buying a stainless steel bottle, a plastic one is a good start, but in the end it is still plastic and the ones made out of steel last way longer than plastic bottles. Moreover, steel bottles are often insulted, meaning that you can take warm and cold drinks with you. Due to the variety of bottles available you can find one that fits your needs and reflects your personality. Just make sure that you do not forget to clean your bottles regularly, in order to stop bacteria from accumulating inside, most bottles come with instructions on how to clean them. With refill station becoming more popular, refilling your bottle throughout the day is no problem, if you can’t find such a station normal tap water works perfectly fine too.
Another plus is that these water bottles can be taken through airport security as long as they are empty, this saves you from buying an overpriced water bottle at the airport. If you have a stainless steel bottle, it is best to take it out of your hand luggage, as security workers are unable to see if it’s empty on screen and your bag fill be flagged up. When you take it out of the bag, someone can simply shake it to make sure it’s empty and you won’t have to wait while someone takes your bag apart.
Similarly to my water bottle I usually also pack my reusable coffee cup before leaving the house, even if I don’t plan on getting coffee it is good to be prepared, just in case. A coffee cup or flask also allows you to leave your house with coffee and you can save money on the way. Just like the water bottles, coffee cups come in different shapes, sizes and patterns, allowing everyone to find the right cup for themselves. When I forget my cup, I simply don’t get coffee to go but stay in the café if I have time. Alternatively, you can ask the barista to give you a cup without the plastic lid, which would at least reduce some waste. Moreover, some coffee shops give you a small discount if you bring your own cup, which is like a little reward for caring about the environment.
If you often buy a pre-packed lunch, consider the option of taking your homemade lunch with you in a plastic or even better, in a metal container. This takes a bit more time, as you have to prepare your lunch beforehand but these meals are often healthier and you can choose what you put in them. If you don’t have the time to cook your own lunch, look out for places that sell lunch in recyclable or plastic free packaging. Even though most cafés are ditching plastic cutlery, it might be worth it to invest in a bamboo cutlery set that you can not only reuse for bought but also your own, homemade lunch.
Some people often get juices or other drinks that often come with a straw to go, if that is the case for you, think about buying a metal or stainless steel straw that you can take with you.
If you have your own straw you can ask to have your drink without straw and save some waste. You might think that this is unnecessary now that a lot of shops use paper straws, but not even those are recyclable all the time.
Now that free plastic bags are banned and people have to pay for a bag, more shops opt for paper bags. This is a positive development, but to make sure that you are not tempted to buy a plastic bag, I recommend always carrying a tote bag with you. They don’t take up much space and are incredibly useful, especially if you make an unexpected purchase. In addition, to the tote bag, keeping some larger, reusable shopping bags in the trunk of your car is also a good idea.
With time all of these things will become a habit and you will no longer forget to bring your water bottle or coffee cup. Moreover, these things cannot only be used in your daily life but also while travelling, if you opt for eco-friendly means of travel, such as trains, even better.
Questions? Comments? Further suggestions for living an eco-friendly lifestyle? Leave a comment below!