4 Products to Help You Create Less Waste On the Go

products to help create less waste on the go

I’ve been committed to creating less waste and caring for the environment for a number of years. But until recently, I’ve mostly been concerned with the things I use within my own home. I use cloth diapers and cloth napkins, and cook from scratch as much as possible, for example. This makes sense, because I spend most of my time at home.

Recently, however, I realized how much unnecessary waste I was creating during those times when I am out of the house.  How often when I cleaned out the family car wasn’t I tossing out paper cups, plastic straws and lids, and even plastic cutlery? I think I’d always just kind of felt like this stuff was inevitable when you left the house, especially with kids.

I think I started to become more aware of what I was doing when I began following some fantastic Zero Waste gurus on Instagram.

One of my favourites is Be Zero. She shares inspiration, information, and practical tips to reduce waste. You should definitely go follow her right now.

But anyway, through her posts, I realized that in order to create less waste, I probably needed to be intentional in buying a few quality products to take the place of disposable products.

The most common form of waste found around the world is single-use plastics,” she explains in a recent post. “BPA-free plastic or not, plastics still pose risks to our health – both body & ecosystems.

One of the easiest steps anyone can take to disengage from our disposable culture,” she argues, “is to bring your own – cup, utensil, napkin, bag, straw, or container.”

Reusable water bottles and bags are pretty obvious and becoming more mainstream, which is awesome. I’ve been doing both for years, and you probably have, too. But some of the other stuff takes a little extra thought and creativity.

So I recently used some of my Amazon commission earnings to purchase some carefully-selected items to help me reduce my waste when I’m on the go. Here’s what I bought, how I use them, and why I love them.

Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you click through and buy something, I make a small commission. Otherwise, no one is paying me to review these items. I just bought them and enjoyed them, and wanted to share!

Beeswax Wrap

abeego beeswax wrap -- great for picnics

I’ve been wanting to give beeswax wrap a try for years, and finally used up some of my Amazon gift card money to buy one.

It’s just cotton fabric coated with beeswax. it’s foldable and slightly tacky, so it stays in place when you wrap it around your food.

I bought a “giant”-sized Abeego to try out, and now I plan on buying several more in smaller sizes. (Or maybe I’ll buy another large one and cut it to smaller sizes. I haven’t decided yet.) I absolutely love it!

First of all, it keeps things wonderfully moist and fresh, a lot like plastic wrap. But it also happens to be beautiful to look at, it’s reusable, it’s safe for food, and it smells amazing. Everyone in the family loves catching a wiff of that lovely honey smell when it’s covering something out on the counter.

The giant size is good for covering half a watermelon, a casserole dish, or a loaf of artisanal bread. I’ve also used it to wrap sandwiches for a picnic (as in the photo above).

beeswax wrap for cut watermelon

I still want some smaller sizes to cover things like halved avocadoes and tomatoes in the fridge, and for snacks and individual sandwiches on the go.

After using it, just wipe it off with a damp washcloth, let it dry, fold it up, and stick it back in a drawer for use. I love how compact it is when not in use.

(P.S. I’m not exclusively loyal to Abeego or anything. There are lots of great options out there. BUT, if you’re in Canada, you can order direct from their site and get free shipping! That’s not an affiliate link, I’m just excited!)

Collapsible Silicone Container

collapsible silicone container

I hate to waste leftovers. But I also hate taking food home in styrofoam. This posed a problem every time I ate out and wanted to take home my leftovers.

Other zero-waste gurus advocate taking along containers made of steel or glass when you eat out, but that just seemed impractical and bulky to me. Plus, I can’t be trusted to always remember to grab something like that before heading out to a restaurant. I’m usually already carrying a diaper bag and whatnot else. And sometimes we eat out on the fly after appointments in the city.

I decided I wanted a container that I could keep in my purse at all times, so that it was always ready for the job. Something lightweight and collapsible would be ideal.

I found just the thing available on Amazon.

This set of three Kuuk containers allows me to keep one in my purse, one in our car and one in Ben’s work van. For $13! Now we never have an excuse to use styrofoam.

(The one in my purse holds my straw and spork when not in use. More on them below.)

zero-waste solutions on the go

I love how slim it is when collapsed. (Roughly the size of a thin hardcover book, but lighter.) And there’s more than enough room to hold a generous portion of leftovers when opened up.

I recently used my container to take home some delicious chicken shawarma after a night out with Ben. I was so glad to have the container ready!

It may not be as eco-friendly as steel or glass, but it’s a huge step up from single-use styrofoam!

Metal Spork

stainless steel spork - make less waste

A reusable spork is handy because it’s able to serve you, whether you’re chowing soup, noodles, rice, or salad!

I happened to get this titanium one for $10, which comes with a bottle opener. It’s probably overkill.  There are lots of more economical options.

Stainless Steel Straw

stainless steel straw

Single-use plastic straws are so completely dumb when you think about it. What a waste of plastic!

Technically, you usually don’t even need to use a straw. People drink straight out of cups all the time. But I understand that they’re helpful if you’re drinking while in a vehicle or otherwise on the move.

So in the those cases, a stainless steel straw is a great solution.

When you’re in a restaurant, you probably don’t need a straw at all. You could just ask your server not to give you a straw, and drink from your cup the old-fashioned way. I’ve done this lots of times.

But having a reusable straw with you even in a restaurant can be nice for two reasons: (1) so your server can physically see that you don’t need a straw (because s/he might otherwise forget your request), and (2) it makes everything you drink feel fancy. See? Being eco-friendly doesn’t have to make you feel deprived!

I got a set of a bunch of stainless steel straws of varying size and shape. Most will stay home and be used by the family.

But I have one tucked in my collapsible container to be used when I’m out and about, and another in the family car, for spur-of-the moment drive-thru iced coffees. (Confession: I have yet to work up the nerve to ask if they’ll put it in a reusable cup. Usually I just make my own and take it along in a jar.)

Other Great Items to Bring With You

Just a reminder that you can take the following things with you when you go out to reduce the waste you create:

These reusable products have all been a pleasure to use. I hope you find some awesome zero-waste solutions, too!

Any additional suggestions/recommendations?

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What I’m Into: September 2017

apples edited

knitting edited

nature journaling

I cannot complain about our September.

We had summer weather for most of it, which is my favourite.

Lydia and I got really into some schoolish stuff, which was a lot of fun. Nature journaling has turned out to be a big hit. We have learned so much, and enjoyed it immensely! And she can’t get enough of history. We had to take books on Ancient Egypt out of the library so she could dig deeper into pyramids and mummies. Fun!

And I did some knitting! Oh my goodness I love knitting. I’ll share some finished products at the end.

But first of all, some of the usual things I’ve been into!

(Quick note: You can see what I’m up to on a day-to-day basis on Instagram, my most-loved social media platform these days. There you’ll see lots of unschooling stuff, as well as my crafty and kitchen adventures.)

Books

books - september

(Once again, these are all audiobooks.)

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. This novel won the 2017 Newbery Award, was recommended to me by my discerning sister, and was on sale for a couple of dollars. So I bought it.

It is wonderful. It involves a poetry-reciting swamp monster, a tiny dragon who thinks he’s gigantic, and a kindly old witch who accidentally enmagics an abandoned baby girl by feeding her moonlight. As the girl grows up under the kind witch’s care, her magic becomes increasingly dangerous, and the witch has to make some difficult decisions. It’s a refreshingly original fairy tale with unusual protagonists, full of both whimsy and solemnity. I will happily pass it along to Lydia when she’s a bit older (maybe 10-ish). (Note: I didn’t really care for the narrator. I’d recommend reading the print version.)

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, read by Nick Offerman. I was assigned this book way back in grade seven, so I was familiar with all the major plot points of the story. But as a kid I never particularly cared for the book . . . as a female Canadian goody-goody, I could not relate to the protagonist at all, and the humour completely went over my head. But reading it as an adult . . . it is laugh-out-loud hilarious! Only now do I understand why Twain is considered a world-class humourist. And I could listen to Ron Swanson read to me all day. (*Also as an adult, the racism infused into the culture now really makes me shudder.) (Currently available on Audible for ONE DOLLAR. Go listen to it.)

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick. I enjoy celebrity memoires if the author is funny and smart. This one fits the bill. Kendrick is likeable and self-deprecating, and a very witty writer. It’s always fun to see behind the scenes of things like awards shows and big-budget movies. Not a life-changer, but an enjoyable five hours. Warning: contains plenty of drugs, sex and swearing.

Children’s Read-Aloud Chapter Books

children's chapter books

The Light Princess by George Macdonald. I fell in love with this delightful little book back in university. It was my pleasure to read it aloud to Lydia. It’s whimsical and profound at the same time.

Most of the symbolism and wordplay probably went over her head, but embedded within this silly fairy tale about a princess who has no gravity (in every sense of the word) is a message about self-sacrifice and the value of the full spectrum of human emotion. I hope to read it over and over again through the years.

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George. This one was pretty good. Plucky heroine, magical castle, acts of courage. Lydia liked it. I kind of felt like the author doesn’t really know how kingdoms or bad guys work? Still a decent read.

Children’s Picture Books

wild child

Wild Child by Jeanne Willis. I bought this book on the recommendation of Sara from Happiness in Here. I love it so much. It is spectacular in every way.

First of all, it captures the essence of childhood and embodies the spirit of unschooling. If you believe in the wisdom of wildness, you will love this book. The narrator of the story is “the last wild child,” because all of the other children have been captured by grown-ups and made to wear shoes and go to school: “They took all their wisdom and wildness away. That’s why there are none in the forests today.” But by the end of the story, we discover there is at least one other wild child out there . . .

Second, the illustrations are phenomenally gorgeous. Lydia has made copies of all the beautiful pictures and pored over all the lovely details.

I constantly come across children’s books that assume school is necessary and good. This is the first one that seems to question it, and it feels so refreshing and impish.

Unfortunately, this book doesn’t seem to be available anywhere right now, but keep your eyes open for it, or check your library!

Knitting

knitted pixie bonnet

The knitting bug hit me the second we got some cooler weather. I just HAD TO KNIT. And I knew what I wanted to make: a pixie bonnet for Felix. I found this pattern via Ravelry, which I thought was perfect for my skill level.

I LOOOVE the finished product.

But unfortunately it ended up a little big for Felix. Oh well. Lydia can wear it for now (still super cute!), and he’ll grow into it eventually.

knitted pixie bonnet(It was actually really hot that day — like 30C or 86F — but I paid her in candy to model the bonnet with a jacket on. For realism’s sake.)

Now I need to make more! (You can find me on Ravelry here, if you’re so inclined.)

So that’s what I’ve been into! How about you?

*This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

*Linking up, as usual, with Leigh Kramer. Join me there?

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What I Learned This Summer

sidewalk chalk

I’m a couple days late, since summer technically ended last Wednesday. But I love Emily Freeman’s idea of sharing things you’ve learned over the last season, so I thought I’d join in.

Here are three things I learned this summer.

1. You really can trust kids to do things when they’re ready.

I’m a firm believer in letting kids do things when they’re ready . . . in theory. That’s part of the reason we’re choosing to unschool. But sometimes that idea is harder to put into practice.

Several months ago, I noticed that Lydia was starting to sprout her first new adult teeth (the bottom front ones) . . . behind her baby teeth. This surprised me, because we’d been checking on those baby teeth for any wiggliness since she turned five. They still weren’t loose at all. But the adult ones were ready to move in, regardless of what the baby teeth were doing.

I wasn’t too alarmed, since mine had done the exact same when I was five. But I’d had my not-loose baby teeth removed by a dentist, and I thought maybe she’d have to have the same thing done with hers.

I was getting ready to make an appointment for her when her baby teeth started to get the teeniest bit wiggly. Hmm. I hesitated. At the same time, I talked to my cousin (who’s a dental assistant), and she told me she sees the exact phenomenon in their office all the time, and it’s no big deal — eventually, when the baby teeth come out, the adult ones move right into place. (I don’t know if this is true of other teeth in the mouth, but the ones at the very front kind of get pushed forward by the tongue). So I waited a little longer.

Eventually, her baby teeth started to get more and more wiggly. But Lydia would not let anyone touch them. I believe in bodily autonomy, even for the youngest children,  so I let it go. I didn’t believe her teeth were in any trouble.

I was personally pretty scarred from the experience of losing my own teeth. My dad would tie strong threads around my loose teeth and yank them out. Sometimes it took several tries. It was terrifying. I still shudder at the thought.

{Question: Why are we so anxious to get kids’ teeth out as soon as absolutely possible?}

I didn’t want to do the same to Lydia. Her teeth belong to her. She gets to decide what happens to them.

Soon the adult teeth were fully in place, with the tiny little baby ones still hanging on but slowly getting looser and getting pushed further forward.

loose teethHere’s a nice image to haunt your dreams. You’re welcome.

It looked pretty gross, honestly. She now had a double row of teeth in the front, and the baby ones were turning greyish and looking dead and dangly. Everyone wanted them out so bad . . . except for Lydia.

We bribed. We reasoned. We asked really nicely. But she didn’t want us to touch them and she wasn’t ready to pull them herself.

This went on for two whole weeks past the time we thought they should really come out. I wanted so badly to reach over and just pluck them out. It would have been so easy! But I restrained myself. It’s her body, I reminded myself. She’ll pull them when she’s ready.

And finally, one day while she was eating a carrot, the first one came out. Thank goodness! And she was so proud of herself!

The next one came out the next day. She easily pulled it out herself.

Now she has two beautiful, straight, white adult teeth, without having the damaging experience of having someone barge in and yank out her teeth against her will. As a bonus, she never had to have any gaps in her mouth.

Sometimes you have to have patience and trust that your kids know what they’re doing.

{Note: I’m still trying to follow my own advice when it comes to Felix reaching his milestones on his own time, with varying levels of success.}

2. You can hone your skills just by watching other people.

passionflower watercolour

Earlier in the year, I decided to learn how to paint with watercolours. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years.

I watched a ton of YouTube videos. I bought new paints, brushes, and paper. And I practiced. I got pretty good. It was so, so fun and fulfilling.

But I didn’t get to practice nearly as much as I would have liked. I’m just not at a stage in my life where I can often get out a bunch of art materials, spread them across a table, and work to my heart’s content.

But I was passionate about learning. So I kept watching tutorials. Lots and lots of them. I watched while I fed the baby or washed the dishes. While I chopped vegetables or mixed meatballs for dinner, I watched other people play with colours and create masterpieces. I watched them lay down glazes and demonstrate techniques.

And to my surprise, when I did get the chance to pull out my paints, I was better at it than I was before I watched the videos.

Simple watching experts paint for hours on end made me a better painter myself, even when I’d had little chance to practice.

Neat.

3. I can buy underwear online.

underwear

This felt like a revelation.

First of all, you need to know that Canadians don’t enjoy all the same online shopping options you Americans do. We don’t have all the same businesses, and shipping costs here are insane. (I’ve done quite a bit of shipping in the U.S. so I know that the price differences are dramatic). Free shipping is almost unheard-of. So I’ve never even considered doing things like Stitch Fix. Online clothes shopping is mostly unaffordable and unrealistic.

And honestly, I’m not really even interested in buying my clothes online. I don’t mind shopping for clothes, and only need to do it every couple of years.

But underwear. What a pain!

The underwear available at our local Wal-Mart are all garbage quality and mostly hideous granny panties. So: no.

My favourite underwear come from LaSenza, a flashy lingerie store at the mall (an hour away) that makes me feel very uncomfortable, plastered wall-to-wall with ginormous posters of almost-naked women. It’s located right next to the food court, so everyone can watch you examine underpants while they eat their Cinnabons. When panties go on sale, they’re offered in huge bins right in the front doorway, and you have to sift through piles of lacy thongs to get to the comfy cotton hipsters (the only cut/style I buy). I always dread it.

One day I groaned to Ben, I wish I could just buy my underwear online. And then I thought, Well, why the heck not? I searched for the La Senza website, and before I knew it, had six pairs of clearance-priced underwear in my cart for less than $30. Shipping cost $4. They arrived three days later.

Hooray! No pawing through piles of panties in front of families eating fake Chinese food! This is the only way I’m doing it from now on.

And that’s it for now! What cool things did you learn this summer?

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