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Home » Blog » Drink and Eat out Responsibly in 2019 and How I Do It.

Drink and Eat out Responsibly in 2019 and How I Do It.

Insulated Bottle - Coffee Bottle - Food Jar - Container
Insulated Bottle – Coffee Bottle – Food Jar – Container

Let’s not bore you up with numbers and statistics of how many single-use food and drink containers we have thrown away up till now. It will never be great to hear. Plus, a lot of people have talked about that already. The point to consider here is what are the ways to not make it worse. What are the ways we all can do to make the situation better? How to be a little more mindful and responsible for the environment when you drink and eat outside? That said, let me walk you through my real life examples of how to do so practically and efficiently.

But to be honest, you have to give up some convenience. Single-use containers are so cheap to produce and convenient to use and ditch. That’s why, often times, they’re a crime to our environment.

‘Your bag is ENORMOUS.’ My boyfriend once said. That cracked me up. I replied to him playfully that ‘Of course, it must be. Because I carried some clothes to stay over with you!’ In fact, the clothes were just a small part in the corner of my backpack. Back when I was still a business student, I had to carry files, books, notebooks, a laptop. Those were the main heavy stuff. (If you read online textbooks or take note on your tablet, you’re lucky! I can’t bare screens that long.) The second priority of my backpack was dedicated to 2 insulated bottles, a food jar or a container of my sandwich, and another little container of my snack.

This enormous bag of mine is a 40-liter bag that would make me look super tiny like an ant carrying around a giant rock. But apart from my school stuff and clothes (not every day though), why did I bring that many containers?

The short answers were low-waste lifestyle has been in my DNA, and I was on a budget, so I always prepared my coffee, snack, and lunch to school. As 100% of them packed in single-use packages, I didn’t buy any of them unless I messed up my routine of preparing which happened so rarely.

Yes. Using reusable bottles and containers are key to minimize or even cut off the use of single use packages. Plus, it even saves you more money if you can prepare your meals to eat when you are on the go. That’s why these bottles and containers of mine are my babies. They not only feed my body but also feed my soul. Let me dive deeper one by one.

* You will come across some certain products, but there are no affiliates . I only want to review and share my opinions about what I use and work well for me.

1. Insulated coffee bottle instead of single-use coffee cups

Painting of Takeya bottle
Painting of Takeya bottle

It is a 14 oz insulated bottle that I carried hot coffee from home. If I failed to prepare the coffee, I would buy it from a coffee shop on the first floor and ask a barista to put it in this bottle every time.

Finding a coffee bottle that suits my expectation was more challenging than I thought. I might somehow spend time researching about it more than I spent time doing my homework. True story. The thing was, I wanted a bottle that is not larger than 12 oz. as I need it to carry only a cup of coffee and I already have a bigger bottle for drinking water. Secondly, I wanted a flip cap that will allow coffee to cool off without removing the whole cap that may cause spilling out easily. Third, I wanted that flip cap to be completely waterproof and closed tightly enough to stay clean and proper inside my busy backpack whether I bend, jump, or run. Yep, I was really picky. I spent hours hunting for this kind of bottle on Amazon. Majority of them have a waterproof flip cap that I always questioned. I used to have one of those, but once something in my backpack happened to push up the cap, then coffee spilled. Game over. I never want to keep the bottle in my backpack’s side pocket either because it’s not secure enough for me.

I was about to buy one with a simple leakproof twisted lid because I couldn’t find a better one. That was the moment when I saw another life-changing cap of another brand. After long hours of exhausting hunting, this literally woke me up. It was ‘Takeya’ bottle. This bottle brand has this twisted flip cap lid that I had never seen before. I scrolled through the product’s reviews and found out that most of them are positive, so I purchased it. Even they didn’t have a 12 oz sized bottle, the 14 oz one was acceptable for me. Once I got to try the bottle, I’d say this was just right. It was perfect. It’s one of the best design solutions ever. The flip cap can be twisted to make a very firm seal, not just a flip flap with a click lock like a container lid. This is a 100% waterproof lid that I had dreamed of. As it is an insulated bottle, it can keep liquid hot or cold for hours. I find that the foldable holder at the top of the lid useful, too, especially when you run out of hands to hold your bottle, you can just hold it with one finger. It’s the coolest one. I never look for a better bottle ever since.

2. Insulated water bottle instead of single-use plastic bottles

This is a 20 oz stainless steel bottle that I usually carry drinking water. When I was studying, I carried this bottle along with the coffee bottle so that I had water to drink without waiting to finish coffee from the first bottle first. There has never been a day that I leave my place without carrying drinking water whether going to school, to shop groceries, to events. I don’t even remember when was the last time I bought water in a plastic bottle. It must be several years back. I’m grateful though, to see that a lot of people tend to have their to-go bottle whenever they travel. Imagine how great this positive impact can be if each and every one of us sticks to our own to-go bottle without buying other drinks in plastic bottles or single-use cups, which yes, come with single-use plastic straws.

Now all those fancy drinks pop up in my head. Bubble tea, frappuccino, slurpee, smoothie, milk tea, iced latte, you name it. Thankfully, I’m never a fan of them, so I don’t buy them. For any of you, who can’t live without them, I’d encourage you to, at least, carry a tumbler and a reusable straw like a stainless steel straw or a bubble tea silicone straw. If the shop accepts your to-go tumbler, bingo! If not, at least, refuse the straw and bring your own. I promise that the staff or the shop owner who serves you will be more than happy to make you a drink waste-free because they get to save their inventory as well. It’s a win-win. Otherwise, if you drink bubble tea every day and toss plastic cups and straws away every time, my friend, you’re causing a crime. That won’t only harm you in the near future, but every creature on the planet too.

3. Use a good food jar and prepare your meal in advance.

Painting of Thermos food jar
Painting of Thermos food jar

It’s the best practice for those who want to cut the cost of buying food for every meal and to avoid single-use food containers. I normally prepared my lunch to take to school when I was a student. The best discipline was cooking food on Sunday for my whole week, the least was making a sandwich in the morning before going to school. This practice saved me hundreds of dollars a month in food expense. Through my experiment, investing in a high-quality food jar really makes a difference instead of struggling with the old reusable plastic container that isn’t leakproof. My choice is a 16oz ‘Thermos’ food jar.

I never had an interest in it before until I realized that carrying food, especially stir fry in a typical container was not efficient. My plastic container is not wholly leakproof, so I needed to plastic wrap it. I felt terrible every time I threw away the wrapping. Also, I had to take time to reheat the food before eating, let alone if there is no microwave around. So, getting a food jar would be a good solution. What I love about this thermal food jar are its compact size, its elegant design, and its top quality. It is entirely leakproof, has a very tight seal, and has a folding spoon attached in a lock inside the jar. The great thing is it keeps food hot (or cold) for several hours with the insulation technology. Imagine when you are super hungry, how great it feels to open the food jar, then the hot steam and smell of hot food hits your nose instantly. You only have to unfold the spoon from its lock and feed yourself.

The truth that it has a smaller mouth than a square container could be challenging when you eat from a very packed jar. That is how the top lid becomes so useful. You can use the lid as a food bowl by getting some food from the jar, putting it in the bowl and eating from there. Nice, easy, and proper. Cleaning it is even simpler. You can reach every part, every corner of it entirely. There won’t be any old food hidden. I always hand wash it myself; however, it’s dishwasher-safe, too. If you want to dig deeper and read more reviews and evaluation about food thermos, definitely check out Epicurious article on ‘Tested and Approved: The Best Food Thermos’

This food jar saves me time from reheating food, saves me more space in my backpack, saves me money from buying food outside, and inspires me to stay discipline at preparing food for eating out. It’s such great pride when you have your own food from your own food jar when you’re away from home. It’s the kindest, most responsible thing to do as you leave no trash behind.

4. A Classic Reusable Container for Sandwich and Beeswax Wrap

Once I had a food jar, I use the container only for sandwiches because I didn’t need to concern about leaking. As the container is much bigger than my sandwich, I always plastic wrapped it. But after I switched to low-waste lifestyle, I use beeswax wrap instead. This is an alternative reusable food wrap which is generally made of cotton fabric, beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin. You can clean the wrap by washing it with soap, rinse it off (all with cold water, or it gets melted), and hang dry.

Even for days that I didn’t prepare a sandwich for lunch, I would bring the container for lunch that I bought from a deli place at school. Also used it to contain any leftover food for the next meal if I couldn’t finish it without asking for an extra to-go package. Besides, I brought my own utensils from home. The deli shop owner was surprised and gave me a big smile when she saw what I did. I looked around. My friends, other students, other people, no one seemed to do what I did. Well, I might be the only one weird girl who made this effort. But you know what, I was freaking proud. I’m never shy when I ask if they can use my container instead of their single use one. Most of them are so willing to do so, and they look happy that they get to do something meaningful.

There was only one time when I bought a pumpkin bread from Starbucks and asked the staff if they could put it in my container. They couldn’t do that because of the company’s sanitary policy and stuff. And I regretted it that I didn’t do my homework before I went to Starbucks at that time. After that, I don’t buy any bakery from them again if I’m not super starving.

So, this is my real life experience about cutting off single-use bottles and containers by using reusable and good-quality ones that help me save a lot of money and be extremely responsible at drinking and eating out. Switching these habits is challenging to a lot of people – that’s understandable. We have been relying on single-use stuff for so long, to the point that carrying around reusable containers is unusual and too much of an effort. But environmental and plastic trash problems will never be improved if each of us is unaware and never tries to be more responsible. I’m not saying that you have to do all that at once, or you’re titled a selfish person. No. Change one thing at a time. If you buy coffee every morning, but never carry a reusable coffee bottle, get yourself a nice, cool bottle that fits in your backpack. And use that at your favorite cafe instead of a single-use coffee cup. Even it’s a very small change, the feeling after that will be inspiring you to do more and more changes.

Remember that we never need you to live zero-waste perfectly, but we need all of us to make a small change at a time in living more responsibly to make a great impact on the environment.

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