On-the-go and Travel


Here's a list of ideas for your zero waste / sustainable journey. I hope this helps! As a preface:

Coffee Cups

The to-go cups provided at most cafes are of mixed material and are therefore not recyclable. The cups are made of paper lined with plastic to make it water resistant. This plastic lining is harmful for our health, especially as hot liquids come into contact with it. The lids are a soft plastic that is not commonly recyclable. Sadly, all these coffee cups belong in the landfill.

  • For to-go: Use a reusable travel mug. Opt for plastic-free ones; hot liquids can leach plastic chemicals into your beverage.
  • For dine in: Request a ceramic mug.
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Disposable cutlery

Disposable cutlery is often made of plastic and is not recyclable in most municipalities. Cutlery marked as "compostable" must be processed at an industrial compost facility. And even then, it may not be accepted. Some compost facilities only accept BPI certified compostables since they keep the compost up to a certain standard. Also, the sorting line moves very quickly and sometimes compostable foodware gets pulled from the compost if it looks plastic-y (as many compostable utensils do). If compostable / bioplastic foodware gets into the plastic recycling stream, it risks contaminating entire batches of plastic from resale. Buyers demand recycling to be under a given contamination rate. See China's National Sword.

  • Keep a set of utensils in your bag. This can be as simple as wrapping a fork/knife/spoon with a cloth and using rubber bands (I have a stash of these I save from bunches of leafy greens) to secure the bundle. You can include chopsticks too, if you frequently use those. Alternatively, this bamboo fork/ spoon is small and lightweight enough to fit in a pocket. Or you can buy a set of bamboo utensils that come in a pouch.
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Food storage
  • Use glass jars with a screwable lid, such as Mason jars.
  • Repurpose jars, such as ones used for marinara, pickles, olives, etc.
  • Stainless steel tiffins
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  • Jar of jam
  • Loaf of locally made bread
  • Your favorite bulk food in a jar
  • Beer, wine, hard liquor


  • Potted plant
  • Locally grown flowers wrapped in newspaper and tied with compostable twine

Gift wrapping Ideas

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Hand sanitizer
  • Make your own using 99 percent rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) and aloe vera. Recipe
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Paper lunch bag

- Use a reusable container, tiffin, or washable cloth lunch box.

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Paper napkin
  • Cloth napkins
  • Handkerchiefs
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Paper napkins
  • Use reusable cloth napkins.
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Snack bags

Plastic snack bags, such as Ziplocs are typically only used once and then disposed in the landfill. Never throw them in the plastic recycling. If you have access to plastic film recycling, they can be disposed of there (but keep in mind, this is not a sustainable system to support wholeheartedly).

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TSA-approved liquids bag
  • Use a quart-sized silicone Stasher bag.
  • Wash, dry, and reuse a plastic, quart-sized Ziploc bag.
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Travel-sized toiletries
  • Repurpose a small glass jar with a lid (baby food jars work well).
  • Reuse an empty plastic travel container.
  • Opt for refillable silicone bottles such as these GoTube Silicone Travel Bottles. It looks like the tops are plastic; I haven't found 100% silicone ones. It looks like the tops are plastic; I haven't found 100% silicone ones.
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Water bottle

Single-use water bottles are made of plastic.

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