One of the most common things I heard when I worked as a cashier is “oh no I forgot to bring my reusable bags” or “shoot, I left my reusable bags in the car!” I also used to have the same problem! Finally one day I purchased as many ChicoBags as I need for my weekly trip to the grocery store and started carrying them with me at all times. Since ChicoBags fold up into their own pocket and have a karabiner they’re very easy to keep organized in a backpack, purse, glove box or put on your keys or attach to your belt loop before you leave the house. I always keep two on me in my backpack and they’ve come in handy so many times! I’ve had mine for over ten years now which goes to show just how durable they are.

I was really shocked a few years ago when I learned that over 38 million plastic water bottles end up in landfills every year just in the US and that there is only one person at the FDA who is responsible for ensuring that bottled water meets regulations. Another big problem with bottled water is that most of it comes in plastic that when exposed to UV rays actually starts to break down and leeches harmful, endocrine disrupting chemicals like BPA. It’s now come out that even Starkey Water that is supposed to come from a natural spring two miles under the earth has been found to be contaminated with arsenic (really Whole Foods!) which renews my commitment to always carry a reusable water bottle with me at all times. Unfortunately the brand that makes my favorite stainless steel water bottle no longer exists, but Kleen Kanteen makes an identical one that I know is high quality because my brother has been using one of their water bottles for years. I also really like Sip by Swell, I bought a water bottle from them for my son and loved it so much I ended up getting a coffee cup for myself. You can use the Tap app to see places in your area where you can refill your water bottle or try the nearest coffee shop, most places use filtered water so that any contaminates don’t change the flavor of the coffee.

A year ago I decided to do a little experiment and started saving any plastic utensil or wooden chopstick that I used. Over just a few months I had collected so many plastic forks and spoons I knew I had a plastic problem. I decided to buy a bamboo utensil kit by To-Go Ware. The case for the set is made from rePETe and has a handy karabiner, it also includes chopsticks which I often use to stir up my coffee. Their kids set is PERFECT for babies and toddlers, I wish I had learned about it sooner!

I might add some cloth napkins or bandannas and a metal straw to things I carry with me to reduce waste, but all three of these things have really come in handy. What things do you carry with you everyday to avoid single use plastic?