Reusable On-The-Go Car Kit!

Like a lot of people these days, I’m trying to slowly work my way through different areas of our life to see where we can improve in being less wasteful and invest in reusable options instead. While we have switched out a lot of things in our house to be more reusable (definitely not perfect on that but trying to improve where we can), one thing I’ve wanted to do is make a kit for our car so we always have reusable options with us when on the go. I’ve definitely been successful a few times in remembering to take a cup to a coffee shop, etc., but even that’s a struggle to remember to take at times. And it doesn’t account for the times when you don’t plan to stop to grab some coffee or a bite to eat and you don’t have any reusable items with you. The idea of the car kit is that it stays in the car and has everything you need so you won’t be caught without an item—and can still do spontaneous stops in a less wasteful way. I’ll show you what I added to mine!

1.) Reusable utensils: These utensil kits are great when picking up a meal to-go as you can opt out of the plastic silverware they will try to give you. I got a kids set for Lola as it’s still helpful for her to have a smaller set of silverware when eating, and you can grab one with a set of chopsticks if sushi is frequently on your menu (this set is cool as well).

2). Reusable napkins: Eating out and about (especially with a toddler around to spill and knock things over) can be a messy affair, so it’s a good idea to bring some washable napkins with you! We use these at home as well for dinner and we just throw them in with laundry/rags whenever a laundry day is happening, so it’s really a minimal amount of extra effort to keep clean ones around.

3.) Reusable cups: Now, this one you may want to tailor to your specific tastes and what types of things you buy. For example, if you are like my husband and you usually only buy large cold drinks when out (with loooots of ice—he’s an ice-chewer!), something like this may be the best cup for you (and it can do hot drinks too if you feel like a change). However, if you are like me and are usually getting coffees or lattes when out, then cups like this are perfect for your speed (again, you can use it for cold drinks as well). I also wanted a cup that would work for us, or as a cup for Lola when out and this tumbler-shaped cup is perfect as it’s easy for a kid to hold, isn’t breakable, and has a lid (it’s also partially made from repurposed coffee husks, so that’s cool). You can also try one of these amazing cups since it can be totally flattened to a tiny size that’s perfect for a purse or diaper bag—so cool! OK, now I can check cups off our list!

4.) Reusable straws: This is another area where you have a lot of options! You can do things like bamboo straws (they are compostable once they’ve reached their end of life), silicone straws, or stainless steel straws. It’s nice if you can get one with a carrying case so you can also throw one in your purse or backpack and the case gives you something to put a used straw into until you get home (if you don’t have an option to clean it as soon as you are done.) Just check the size of your reusable cup you’ll want to use a straw with, as the tall tumblers need taller straws and you may want a wider straw option for smoothies (this is what we use at home for smoothies).

5.) Reusable to-go container: This is a good idea to have nearby as you can use it to compile leftovers from a meal out without having to use a to-go box or plastic container from the establishment. It’s up to you how many you want to keep in the bag, but I would suggest at least two so you can keep something like a liquid soup separate from another item you are bringing home (this is the locking container and this is the round one with the lid).

I would definitely suggest bringing your car kit bag into a coffee shop or restaurant just in case so you can have all your items at your fingertips if needed, but at a minimum you could at least grab a cup and throw a straw/napkin in your purse on the way in if you didn’t want to bring the whole bag. You can store your car kit in whatever you like (a box, a crate, a bag, a small backpack), but I opted for a lunch bag so it would be insulated if we did have leftovers in the bag for a bit after eating.

Now, as a side note, these are all things you may already have enough of that you can create a car to-go bag with items you currently have (like if your silverware drawer is overflowing, just use some of those for your bag, etc.), so make sure to check first and see what you already own! As a side benefit from bringing your own cup places, I’ve noticed several times that when I order coffee out they will fill my reusable cup to the top which ends up giving me more coffee than the size I ordered—not sure if they are just being nice because I brought in a cup or if they just don’t feel like measuring it out, but I’ll take it either way! You also can get a small discount at a lot of places for bringing your own cup, so that’s nice too. Hope this gives you some good ideas for an on-the-go kit of your own! Let me know if there’s something you like to have in your car to add to this list! xo. Laura

P.S. This post was completed before we started to self-quarantine. Just wanted to make it super clear we’re not advocating that anyone travels (especially on airlines) right now until the current health crisis changes. 

Credits//Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • Great idea Laura! I too try and remember to take my reusable cup places, but for those random stops for coffee I’m unprepared. Plus the cloth napkins and containers are things I never even thought to bring out with me, but it makes so much sense to do so.

    When I can leave the house again for non-essentials I’ll be sure to do this. Bonus is that now I have the time to compile my car kit during the quarantine, ha ha!

  • Yes! I love this post! This topic is so important. Our household is very recyclable friendly. I’m loving the collapsable tumbler! We’ve transitioned to recyclable lunch dishes and pouches in the last couple of years and they’re so easy on the go!

    Kaitlyn @ Oh, the Places We’ll Go!

  • PLEASE don’t go out to coffee shops and restaurants right now (depending on your location). Many places affected by the Coronavirus are prohibiting the use of even reusable bags, per health board recommendations. The community spread phase is live and deadly for many places right now. Shelter in place mandates have been and are being issued at the state and county levels. Social distancing is encouraged for everyone. Please know that when you ask a server to handle your products from home, you are asking them to expose themselves to any virus that may be incubating in your system. (Covid-19 symptoms can take up to 2 weeks to show up! Some cases are asymptomatic and you can be a carrier and never know it.) The timing of this post is a little tone deaf and I BEG you to consider adding a caveat about safe health practices in the time of coronavirus. For those of us in L.A., S.F. and NYC, we have been legally banned from using these products outside of the home for the time being. Please do not encourage illegal, reckless behavior. Let’s all wait until the pandemic has subsided before bringing cups and containers from home. In the meantime, staying home and reducing travel is reducing pollution from vehicles! So let’s do what we can and shelve these ideas for LATER.

    • I understand your concern Heidi. I personally enjoy and prefer to see posts like this during quarantine because it reminds me that this will end soon, and I can most certainly do an activity like this at home to prepare for life after quarantine. They have been intentional on including a disclosure statement in each post that these were all created before the outbreak. We’re constantly bombarded with quarantine messages on a daily basis, please let the rest of us enjoy our time at home dreaming of a life outside.

      I beg you to not stop creating these posts, they give us hope. Thank you!

  • Fabulous idea, I already have many of these items but I can’t tell you how often I leave them at home! I’ll be making a kit like this for my car x

  • This is such a genius idea! I have a reusable straw set in my bag which I take everywhere I go, but the reusable cutlery is even better, and in such a travel friendly case too! I really love the idea of having a bag in my car, that contains all of the reusable tools xo

    Makeup Muddle

  • I loved this post. Cute items and fun things to put on our wish list for when this ends.

  • love the bag and the reminder that you needn’t buy a bunch of stuff to be more eco-friendly. i use my water bottle for on the go coffee and i’ve bought really nice/cheap dish towels at my reuse store that i use as napkins on the go. these are my travel essentials: https://tps-steph.blogspot.com/2018/11/0014-my-essential-travel-items.html and my SIL gifted me these nice stainless steel containers which are lighter than my go-to/favorites – jars 🙂 https://tps-steph.blogspot.com/2019/08/0045-summer-surviving-thriving.html

  • Love this! We have straws, and I’ve been packing silverware – but not the best methods. Just haven’t taken the time to figure it out. Great post! Thank you!

  • I love that you’re advocating reusable products as much as possible!
    One small note from my own experience: your round Pyrex dish isn’t a good choice for soups. My elementary-age kids bring leftover soup to school for lunch all the time. We’ve found that the round Pyrexes spill very easily. The only good solution for transporting soup is a small Thermos container with a screw-on lid. Take it from someone who’s washed a lot of soup out of lunch boxes & bookbags!

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