Out and About in Zero Waste Style

Jan, 16, 2017

It’s been one year since we committed to a zero waste life style, which means we try not to create any waste. How’s it going, you wonder? Actually, it’s going well and, sure, we do face challenges sometimes. Lots of people ask me how we manage to spend a day out and about with kids but not create waste.

As a family, we love to travel and spend our days exploring and having lots of adventuresaround town. My husband always jokes that, once we leave the house, we never know when we will be back; so we always pack for all kinds of scenarios. Planning ahead is so important because we can get into trouble if we have been out for a few hours and the kids are hungry or thirsty. So, as a zero waste family, we have to plan a head.

First of all, I always pack lots of snacks. Even in my purse I have some fruit, energy barsand nuts just in case of emergencies. But if we know we’re going out for the day, we will pack a lunch and a few snacks, plus we always bring our water bottles. For a zero waste day out, some planning is required, or we’ll end up going out for lunch or buying something to eat which will end with lots of waste.

Last weekend we had friends in town and spent a whole day in Balboa Park going to museums, exploring, and enjoying street performers. I knew that we would be gone for hours, so I packed accordingly. We brought lunch and snacks for 4 adults and 6 children. This is what I made:

• Curried coconut soup in thermoses

• Water in individual water bottles
• Sandwiches of almond butter on home baked bread packed in beeswax wrap
• Raw chocolate balls packed in a stainless steel container
• Orange veggies packed in a stainless steel container
• Apples packed in a cloth produce bag
• Trail mix packed in cloth sandwich bags
• Smoothie in reusable smoothie pouch

It seems as though I brought lots of food but, believe me, we ate every bit of it! And I like to have lots of snacks like apples and nuts that are easy to eat as we move around. I like to pack a warm lunch like soup or pasta with a sauce when the weather is cooler, as it has been here lately. On warmer days, though, lunch could include a cold pasta salad with beans or a hummus sandwich and cut up raw veggies.

People ask me if living this way is very time consuming. Sure, it means I have to plan ahead, but since I have done this for a while and I pack my kids school lunch 5 days a week, it’s routine for me now. I also feel that going to a restaurant with 3 kids is not always easy and especially not very cheap. This way is more relaxing since our kids can sit outside to eat — and it saves us lots of money. And I know my kids like the food I bring. 

To sum it up, I have invested in good quality reusable food storage containers like cloth sandwich and snack bags, beeswax wrapswater bottlesthermoses and stainless steel containers in different sizes so that

1. I do not produce any trash,

2. I avoid plastic so no chemicals enter the food, and
3. I have sturdy non-glass containers that won’t break.

Fredrika Syren

Fredrika Syren is an environmental activist and writer. In 2016, she founded the website Green-Mom.com where she shared her family’s journey of living zero waste. She lives in San Diego, California with her husband James and their children Bella, Noah, and Liam. Fredrika and her family were recently featured in the documentary Zero Time to Waste. Fredrika is also the author of Zero Waste for Families - A Practical Guidebook (which you can buy on this site)

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