on the go
When you’re out and about, away from home, it’s key to be prepared. Otherwise, it’s very likely that the only options for food and drink will come with plastic. It’s really not too difficult, though- like anything else, it is simply about creating and reinforcing the habit and setting yourself up for success by being prepared. What I like to do is keep a small kit of items with me, in my bag or car, so that I have them on hand if I need them. Doing so has often been a lifesaver when I get hungry or thirsty, but I’m not at home- or if we are traveling. Everyone’s kit will look different depending on what food and beverages you like to consume. Are you a coffee or tea drinker? You’ll probably want an insulated travel mug to bring. Do you like to get smoothies or juices? A mason jar and reusable straw will be perfect for you. Pastries? A little cloth bag to buy them in. The hot food bar? A reusable container like a tiffin, or packing your own lunch/breakfast. Do you often find yourself purchasing a packaged snack? Maybe you can start packing yourself one before you leave. And on…. Remember again what we’re coming back to here, moving from a disposable lifestyle to a reusable one.
One more thing I’d like to touch on intersects both living a slow life and living a sustainable life. If you’re on the go and eating or drinking and you’re caught without your kit- why not stay? Can you spare 10 minutes to sit down and savor that latte or juice or pastry now, in the moment, instead of rushing around eating food while driving, walking, etc? Often we think we can’t spare the time, but really we can make room for having real moments like this in the day, and looking at it from a mental perspective, we really can’t afford not to. We need these mini moments in our day- without our phone, just us- where we can fully experience what we’re eating, the smells, flavors, sounds, looks. To fully immerse ourselves in the reality of now without thinking ahead to the future or behind to the past. If you decide to stay for here, be sure to ask for real plates, cups, etc as much of the time food is automatically served on disposables in case you decide to take it to go.
an example kit
Everyone’s kit will be unique to their preferences and consumption habits, and what you already own that can be used, but sometimes it’s helpful to see an example. For me, I know that I always get hungry (and my kids do too!) so I’ve learned that in order to avoid disposable packaging, I need to bring food with me, especially snack type things. If we’ll only be out for a few hours, I’ll bring a few pieces of fruit or maybe some nuts. Sometimes I buy a cookie at a local shop for the kids- so I bring a black linen bag with me. The black means that if something is oily or sticky (cookies, pastry, etc) it doesn’t show stains. I can also use the bag to buy bulk nuts or other snack foods. I also bring a mason jar with me- it can do endless things- be a vessel for coffee, tea, smoothie, juice, bulk food, hot food bar, something to keep food scraps in until I find a compost (apple cores, banana and orange peels etc). I bring my tiffin packed with food if I’ll be out for lunch or empty if I’d like to purchase food from a hot bar or deli. Lastly, I bring a cutlery kit which has fork, knife, spoon, chopsticks, and straw- so that I can use my own utensils instead of plastic ones. It rolls up in a neat little fabric so that the utensils stay clean inside my bag. I roll a cloth napkin inside it, too.
If I’ll be out longer or am traveling, I also add a reusable water bottle. The one I use is plastic free, relatively lightweight, and I’ve had it for years. I fill it up at home with filtered water. When it’s empty, I look for water bottle refill stations or ask a coffee shop or restaurant if they’re willing to fill it up for me.
In your journal, I’d like you to think the following questions out and jot down some answers + solutions.
i. What does an afternoon or a day or two (or more) out of the house look like for you? What kinds of foods and drinks are you most likely to purchase on the go and what packaging do they come in?
ii. What are reusable alternatives for each of the disposable packaging you listed? For example, if you said coffee > disposable cup + lid, a travel mug is an alternative.
iii. Based on your answers, list out a practical on the go kit that will serve your needs well and not be too bulky to carry around with you.
gather any items that you deemed necessary as part of your on the go kit- if there’s something you don’t already have, try to find it secondhand if applicable before buying new.
start using and taking the kit with you places. Edit it as needed- swapping things in and out of your kit as you test it out in real life.
use the simple mindfulness practice at least once.
a simple mindfulness practice
Whether at home or on the go, choose one ritual or moment in the day that you will experience fully, as it is, without being colored by the past or future. This could be brewing a pot of tea, washing your hands, drinking an afternoon latte, sitting in the sun for a few minutes, cutting up vegetables, walking, your bus ride. Just choose one. Take a few deep breaths, focusing on your breath exclusively for a few breath cycles. Then, shift your attention to the moment. Notice the smells, the colors, the sensations, how your body feels at this point and time in space, any movements, tastes, textures, shapes, and so forth.
For example: eating a tangerine. Before peeling it, hold it in your hand. Notice the weight, the color, the shape, the texture, how it feels to hold it, how your body is reacting to seeing it. Watch your nail pierce through the skin as the fragrant oils spray into the air and fill your nose with their sharp fresh scent. Feel the oiliness of the skin as you peel it away, notice the shape that the peel makes as it comes off, the sound as it rips away from the flesh. Peeling the segments apart, again notice their feel, color, texture, shape. As you bite into the piece feel the sensation of the juice bursting in your mouth, the difference between the soft juicy inner part and the tougher outer encasing. Think about all the different things you taste in the flavor, if you have any memories that come up triggered by these smells and flavors.
Continue this way until you are finished with the task. Then take a few more deep breaths to close, perhaps reflecting with gratitude.