Out & About (Zero Waste Update 8)
This element of my life is also my favourite part of everything I do – the preparation. That is, the forward thinking and preventive actions for the days ahead. That which breaks the status quo. And when I say Out and About, I mean every situation that happens not at home – when we’re out walking for lunch or at a nice dinner, travelling with the car or on a plane, at a hotel or camping, out for shopping or just pleasure, in general every situation that we don’t have 100% control over.
For me this is the essence of everything I do – minimalism, veganism, zero waste. Especially in a strong combination like that it is almost impossible to be out and about on autopilot. Maybe you think all this kills spontaneity, but I actually believe it is the exact opposite. It allows me to have sustainable spontaneity without the mistakes, the hunger or the regrets.
I don’t leave the house without two things – my water bottle and a bag. Here you can read some statistics and my opinion on bottled water – a blog I wrote a few years back (in which you can see how I can’t hold back excitement). Ever since I truly don’t leave the house without a water bottle.
One of the reasons is that I need constant hydration to keep my headaches at bay. The second is that it saves us a lot of money as we rarely order drinks when we eat out and are prepared for urgent water needs. If you want to change one thing in your daily routines to make them more sustainable and zero waste, I would recommend a stainless steel (not plastic!) water bottle. I also always have a bag on me. You never know when the need will arise – a sale at Holland & Barrett’s or home cooked food from grandma.
For lunch we also have daily tactics. We both always have a lunch prepared and take it with us as veganism doesn’t really allow leaving things to chance. Whether an extra portion from dinner, a good sandwich or something specifically made, there is always something in our IKEA dishes. In this way we not only save waste (and money), but also have a daily variety that in most cases is a warm and healthy lunch, instead of boring sandwiches.
At the weekends we are often in a park for lunch. In those cases we always bring a picnic – sandwiches, carrots and humus, fruit salad. We transport them in the IKEA dishes, glass jars, my metal bento box or in the bee’s wraps. We don’t have any plastic containers at home, so we are always quite sustainable when we’re out and about. When needed we bring our metal cutlery, cloth napkins and we always take our rubbish with us – the food waste to be composted and the rest for recycling or landfill. And of course we always have our stainless steel water bottles.
This maybe sounds like quite a heavy undertaking (literally), but I am very used to our routine and, as I’ve said before, the moral is heavier than the physical. Finally, I shouldn’t miss that we are prepared with food in other situations as well – when we’re driving or flying around, when we’re skiing – generally every moment when we’re not sure vegan food will be available.
As much as I like being in the kitchen, I sometimes get fed up with it. Therefore, we often get lunch at a street food place, or a nice dinner at a restaurant or even pizza take out on Friday night. Honestly, we don’t pay too much zero waste attention in those situations. We always refuse the straws, but use the napkins. In the cafes we drink in mugs, but street food often comes with its waste. We try to make sure it is compostable or at least recyclable, but often as vegans we don’t have the choice.
Often, if we know we’re going to a food festival I would take my bento box and some cutlery, but I also often forget. We don’t have sets of those zero waste wooden utensils that every bloger carries around in their bag. I am not sure what’s so special about them when you can just take the metal ones from home. But I also can’t deny their pretty designs and the ease at air travel. Maybe one day, if our wish to travel comes true, we will also get some.
As vegans we’re always careful to what and where we eat as we make it a priority to support the places that are open to us. We usually use Happy Cow to get an understanding of the area and find the most interesting options. As non extreme or allergic vegans, we like eating in normal restaurants that have made the effort to develop cruelty free meals. We believe that this way we support the global idea much better than if we were to stick to closed vegan societies. Although, they are also great options for amazing food too. Whichever we choose though, we have never had bad vegan food. Everything is always delicious.
Nic and I have the tradition of ordering Papa John’s pizza every last Friday of the month. We order them without cheese, but their pizzas are so good that nothing is missing. Yes, it comes in card boxes, sometimes with those annoying plastic supports that keep the pizza from sticking to the box, and that’s not very zero waste. It does however, bring us so much pleasure and kid-like joy, that I wouldn’t give it up.
As much as we don’t like it, the car is a big part of our life. I love walking and using public transport but that’s not always possible. For Nic the car is the best and most economic way of getting to work. We also travel a lot within the country, usually to destinations that are crazy expensive on train (you’d understand if you ever had to get to Bristol). And who are we kidding – a car gives freedom and comfort and why would I give it up. (Nothing stops me to dream of a Tesla.) Still, when we reach our destination we usually leave the car and explore the city with the locals. Who wants to park in center of Athens when the subway is 5 minutes from the AirBnB?
Additionally as a Bulgarian in England with strong family belonging flying is absolutely vital to me. I know it’s not the greenest transport, but what can I do, I need it. However, as I already mentioned I always bring my own food and water (never had troubles with food at security checks); I travel only with a cabin bag to make for a minimal transportation; I don’t print out my boarding pass and only use my phone. Maybe this is nothing compared to the negatives of flying, but it’s what I can do.
The ‘Out and About’ aspect is truly an important element of my life. At home you can do what you want, but outside you don’t have control over many things and it is truly unique how much your thinking changes even with one restriction like not buying bottled water. I think that everyone should experiment in this area, you will learn so much about yourselves!