8 Zero Waste Swaps for Dining On-the-Go

Whether you make your lunch everyday, prefer eating out or have a coffee habit, there are many ways to reduce waste when it comes to dining on-the-go. Reducing waste while dining out can take a little planning, but once you get in the habit, it’s easy to maintain.

Max and I love going to the Farmer’s Market every week and often treat ourselves to brunch at one of the food trucks. Instead of using the paper trays, napkins and plastic cutlery the truck provides, we bring reusable alternatives—a 2-tier stainless steel tiffin (one half for Max, one half for me), two cloth napkins, and one set of bamboo cutlery (I’ll use the chopstick or spoon and Max will use the fork or vice versa). I also might bring a stainless steel tumbler for a green smoothie instead of using the compostable plastic tumbler and straw the stand provides. I love that the tumbler is insulated as well, keeping my smoothie nice and cold on a hot day.

It’s become second nature to bring these reusable items with us when we’re on-the-go and there’s a high chance of eating out. It can also be helpful to have a kit of supplies that you throw in your purse or car so you are prepared for impromptu meals and treats.

Below I have compiled 8 zero waste swaps to keep you plastic-free when you’re dining on-the-go:

1. Coffee Cup: Grabbing a hot cup of coffee or tea can be a nice way to start the day. Instead of using the disposable to-go cups the shop provides, bring your own reusable glass coffee cup or ceramic mug from home. 

reusable glass coffee cup
2. Tumbler: If you love a smoothie on a hot day or post workout, bring your own insulated tumbler with a straw versus using a disposable plastic cup and straw. The great thing about an insulated tumbler is it keeps cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot much longer than their disposable counterparts. 

reusable tumbler smoothie insulated

3. Water Bottle: I never leave the house without a reusable water bottle. I not only prefer tap water to bottled, in most cases it's actually safer to drink. A major new study found that 93% of bottles from 11 leading international brands were contaminated with plastics.

reusable water bottle

4. Cutlery: From taco trucks to take out meals, skip the plastic cutlery and bring your own utensil set. This could be a special set of bamboo utensils that you keep in your bag, a spork or even your own stainless steel cutlery from home.

reusable bamboo cutlery
5. Straw: Bringing a reusable stainless steel straw is also very handy when you dine out. From smoothies to iced drinks to boba tea, just say no to plastic straws! Be sure to get a straw cleaner to keep your straw fresh and clean between use. 

reusable stainless steel straw
6. Lunchbox: A reusable lunchbox is a very handy tool beyond bringing your lunch to work or on a picnic. You can also use it for food trucks or getting take out food instead of using plastic and styrofoam containers. You could even bring a small stainless steel container for getting ice cream. 

reusable stainless steel tiffin lunchboc

7. Napkin: One of the best tools to keep in your bag for waste-free dining in a napkin. It's great to use for meals instead of paper napkins or towels, but also comes in handy when you need to blow your nose or have a spill you want to mop up.  

reusable napkin
8. Bread Bag: It's so nice to pick up a special pastry treat when you're on-the-go or a fresh loaf of bread for dinner. A reusable cotton bread bag is a great alternative to paper pastry bags or cardboard boxes. While they are both recyclable, it's so much nicer to cut out unnecessary packaging.  

reusable cloth cotton bread bag