The ‘what’s in my bag?’ tag is an internet classic. Mainly done by YouTubers in the fashion and beauty community, we just love hearing about what other people carry around on the reg; we are a nosy bunch us internet folks. Today’s post is along those lines, but it’s a little different too. This is a post I wish I could’ve read when I started to try and live a zero waste, sustainable life, as it would’ve helped me avoid many an accidental wasteful moment. Throwaway culture is all around us, if we’re not prepared we end up making waste without even realising until it’s too late. Below is a list of the top essentials that I keep in my bag at all times. I learned about these the hard way, so this post is here so you don’t have to. Want to go zero waste? Want to be equipped to be more sustainable? Keep on reading.

1. A Reusable Water Bottle
This seems obvious I know. Single use plastic bottles are one of the stupidest things, and the first thing anyone wanting to go zero waste will probably quit buying. But even I, a person who hates plastic, have been caught out at times. Let me tell you about one of said times. I didn’t take a reusable bottle to work because I can drink water from glasses in the kitchen there, all looking good so far. However, I caught a train after work back to my hometown. I was lucky enough to be sitting in first class thanks to a friends-in-high-places kinda deal, and when they came round offering free drinks I was glad to accept a glass of fruit juice. But did they pour that juice into the perfectly good mug on my table? No, because that was for tea. They gave it to me in a plastic cup, I didn’t even know until it was put in front of me, imagine the horror. Lesson learned: always carry a container, always ask for your drink in that container whilst on the go (this goes for aeroplanes too, everytime they offer you a drink it comes in a different plastic cup, WHY.) Don’t just take your bottle when you think you’re going to need it, make it a bag essential. You might want to use a keep cup instead of a water bottle, if it works to combine your water carrying and your coffee carrying into one. I don’t because I’m more a water drinker on a regular basis, but it may be a two birds one stone situation for others.

2. A Small Food Box
I have a fair few boxes that I use to carry lunch (and snacks) to work or when I have a long day out of the house. Nowadays I always have one on me, let me tell you why. Recently I went with my dad for dinner to an amazing restaurant; the food was extremely tasty, but the portions were huge and I couldn’t finish everything. Immediately I recognised my error, I didn’t have a box so when asking to take it away I might get it in styrofoam (my worst nightmare), but I really didn’t want the food to go to waste. Imagine how disappointed I was when the restaurant told me they legally couldn’t give me the leftovers because of the council regulations/the chance of me getting food poisoning. At the end of the day all leftover food and ingredients GO IN THE BIN. Sorry is this the grapes of wrath? (extra points if you get that reference). I was pretty darn horrified, the waiters themselves weren’t too happy about it, and I’m complaining to the council as we speak. But, I have now resolved to always carry a food container with me. Next time I won’t ask, I’ll just take my leftovers. I use a sustainable stainless steel version these days. With the stainless steel industry having a top environmental track record and the fact that stainless steel is a great recyclable material, it’s wins all round. The box is also pretty light so it’t not a huge burden to carry.

3. Reusable Cutlery
SO many times I have been to barbecues, parties or even restaurants this summer where there has only been the option of plastic cutlery. Sometimes they’ve literally just been plopped in my hand. Nope, no thanks. Watching everyone throw them out at the end of the night is literally upsetting to me. Sometimes I have opted to eat with my hands because I’m stupid and have pride, but that’s a silly idea too. Nowadays I carry foldaway cutlery with me just in case, you can get a folding stainless steel fork, knife and spoon set at any camping shop or online for barely any money, I still have mine from my Duke of Edinburgh days, and they come in very handy indeed. They also pack up really small because, as anyone who’s ever done D of E will tell you, there ain’t much room in that camping bag. So get that plastic fork away from me barbecue man, no more! Also, if it’s more useful for you, you can get stainless steel chopsticks in many a place too.

4. A Handkerchief
Ok this one I actually stole from Mr Unicorn. He always carries two handkerchiefs: one for himself, and one in case someone else is in need. This is perhaps the most english gentleman-y thing ever, but it’s also pretty smart, especially because I’m a crier so it has come in handy after many movies (or when I’m overtired. Sorry.) Really though, how many times have I seen people use tissues then just chuck them in the bin? Paper currently accounts for about 25% of all landfill, eek. Of course if you have a crazy awful case of the flu maybe a handkerchief isn’t going to cut it, and for those cases you can check this article and research your area for your best option, but for the occasional sniffle or weepy moment get that hankie in your bag!

5. The Mooncup
A ~female only~ essential, I’ve raved about this before and will probably rave about it until the grave. Or the menopause, whichever comes first. But, seeing as it’s so little and convenient and great, why not carry it at all times? You’re always prepared for a surprise attack (all the women know what I mean here), but remain discreet at the same time seeing as it’s so small and convenient and comes in an organic cotton carry bag. Top notch. You can read many more reasons about why the Mooncup is one of my favourite sustainable, ethical, zero waste options.

So those are my top essentials. I know some people have a few others, but these ones have really been working for me. Do you have any top tips? Have you ever been surprised by waste? Let’s keep spreading this knowledge so more people can avoid these situations ey!

Until next time, stay magic y’all.