What's in the (zero waste!) bag?

I tend to find that the times I’m most likely to produce waste are when I am out and about for work or trips, and maybe haven’t had enough time to prepare for the day as I would like.

Carrying round certain things in my backpack ensures that I can still minimize waste, even if I haven’t had the time to do full meal prep. I opt for a backpack as I tend to carry quite a bit of stuff alongside what is listed below. It's a personal choice how much of these things you want to take around, and how big your bag will need to be to accommodate that.


Anna uses a spork, I carry around a fork from my cutlery drawer. Depending on what you like to eat, you might consider a spoon or chopsticks instead. Also, if you like drinking with a straw, you could purchase a reusable one made from stainless steel, glass or bamboo.


This can either be filled with yummy lunch (ideal!) or be what you use to get your food in from whichever vendor you use. When its empty, it can be used to store your compost in to take home or, if its clean, you can use it as an impromptu vessel for taking foods or unwrapped toiletries home in, without getting a mess in your bag.

Zero Waste Coffee Cup

Drink vessel

Dependent on what you like to drink the most (water, coffee, iced latte) try and get a drink container which can keep it at the right temperature for longest. I have opted for a vacuum lined drinks bottle which keeps hot drinks hot or cold drinks cold for 12- 24 hours. Its easy to clean, and is made out of metal, so will be easy to recycle or repurpose at the end of its life.

Extra bags

I always have an extra tote bag (or two!) somewhere in my backpack for spontaneous shopping trips. It saves me having to remember these on days I intend to go shopping if I always have them on me.

Hankies and napkins

For spillages, blowing your nose or even tied together as a makeshift bag, it is up to you how many of these you want to carry around, and whether, like me, you need a small purse to hold them in, or can just have them in your pocket. I wash these weekly at the same time as clothes which are the same colours.

Zero Waste Hankie


Seems a strange one for Zero Waste, but bear with me here. The apps on phones can really take some of the efforts out of zero waste living. From the Refill App, which has a map of where you can refill your water bottle, to Olio, which advertises (free!) surplus food from your neighbourhood to cut back on food waste, using these apps can really make things easier.

Zero Waste Apps

Now you know what we carry around, you can start to source some of your own items for your bags. If you don’t have some of the items above, consider buying them from charity shops, second-hand websites or asking friends and family to save yourself money and new products being purchased.