Basic Zero Waste Starter Kit

Hey Mel… Do you have a straw? Something to wipe Teghan’s face?
Maybe its the mom part of me — but I almost always have what some people would call a basic zero waste starter kit on me.

Read on for the must haves to build your own zero waste beginner kit!

Build your own Zero Waste Starter Kit

Seriously, there is no need to purchase a zero waste starter kit.
Looking around online, the pre-fabricated zero waste beginner sets seem over priced.
If you put yours together piece by piece you can customise your set based on what YOU use.

Basic Zero Waste Kit Must Haves


The starting point of any basic starter zero waste kit is the reusable straw.
The US discards 500 million straws daily.

This is where the beauty of assembling your own zero waste kit versus buying a pre-made one comes in — you can select your preferred style of straws. There are a variety of options depending on preference and need. Some options include stainless steel, silicone, stainless steel with silicone tips, glass, bamboo, and while not reusable, paper straws are better options than plastic or going without.

Do you want to stand out in the crowd?
Mermaid Straws allows you to show your style while being sustainable and eco-friendly, even down to the packaging and shipping.
The cool and unique coloured straws are a hit with my family and often a conversation starter.
They even sell a couple types of pouches to keep your straws nice and clean. I have a similar styled zippered pouch that I bought at my local bulk store.

Reusable straws basic zero waste starter kit

Reusable Shopping Bag

A good staple for your zero waste starter kit.
I still have some original style chico bags that are pushing a decade of use. The nice thing about this style is that the entire bag fits into an attached built in pouch for convenient storage. The original can hold up to 25 pounds and is machine washable. The downside? It is made of polyester.

My sister purchased this set of reusable canvas grocery bags from Amazon and says that they are still holding up pretty well.

Reusable shopping bags zero waste starter kit

Depending on how much room you have, a smaller bag might be a better choice to keep on you for those spur of the moment shopping trips or those times you run in to a store for one thing and walk out with several other things that you remember that you need.

Reusable Cutlery

This might be the best place to save your money when assembling your zero waste starter kit.
While the pretty bamboo reusable cutlery has a certain aesthetic, there is no need to buy them if you have forks, knives, and spoons in your kitchen.
When I moved back to Canada, I needed a set of cutlery and went with a cheap IKEA set, similar to the FÖRNUFT set. It is about $10 for a 20 piece flatware set, and comes with a smaller sized fork and spoon. I find that those smaller ones not only fit better in lunches, it also fits a couple of each of them into my zipper pouch that I keep my straws in.

On campus, we have a free store where I have snatched up some cutlery to add to my drawer. It also helps when the kids lose their forks and spoons between school and home.

Cloth Pads or Reusable Cup

My body does not like me anymore and I tend to start spotting at random.
Hi, my name is Melinda and I like to overshare.
In all honesty, if you are of the age where you might start bleeding – random or at a predictable time – then keeping menstruation products on hand is always a good choice to keep in your basic zero waste kit.
I prefer to keep a pad or two with me since my flow is pretty light and I am afraid of my cup managing to get dirty in my purse. I keep mine in a designated water resistant cloth sandwich bag. Essentially a mini wet bag.

Handkerchiefs or Cloth “Tissues”

I keep a couple of “hankies” on hand at all times.
Most of the time, they never actually touch my nose. They usually get used to clean the kid’s faces. I somehow ended up with a collection of bandannas, even though I’ve only bought a few actual handkerchiefs from thrift stores.

zero waste kit handkerchiefs

Water Bottle

Globally, more than a million single use plastic bottles are sold every minute!
The solution? Make a reusable water bottle part of your zero waste starter kit. If you’re a parent, be prepared to make that several water bottles.

I go everywhere with my water bottle.
It has even travelled to the US with me and back.
We seem to be partial to Contigo water bottles and tumblers at my house. They are cheap, easy to find and regularly on sale at Costco here, $25 for a three pack.

build your own zero waste starter kit

Produce or bulk bag to keep your zero waste starter kit together

The only time I find myself using produce bags is when I am buying small loose items like green beans. I usually use my canisters or jars when I visit bulk barn. I wash all of our produce so I don’t worry too much about it not being bagged in its own little bag. When my husband does the shopping, he likes to use our reusable produce bags.
I use one of these bags to keep my zero waste kit together in my bag or back pack. In a pinch, the bag can also hold random things that my kids want me to bring home… which usually ends meaning rocks for their epic rock collection.

This post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase using an affiliate link I may get a few bucks, at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 

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12 thoughts on “Basic Zero Waste Starter Kit

  1. This is epic. We have been moving towards zero waste as a family so that we can eliminate our carbon footprint as much as possible and be better stewards of our beautiful planet. One thing that we really need to work on is napkins/paper products… always room for improvement.

  2. Awesome list! I’ve been looking into using zero waste straws for a while but wasnt really sure which ones were best for our family. Thanks for the info =D

  3. I usually only shop at stores that encourage you bring your own grocery bag so we have a bunch of reusable bags around our house! And I just bought some reusable straws!

  4. This is a great list! I have all the things on your list – except for one! Thanks for helping to keep our environment a cleaner place!

  5. Great blog post. I’m actually following most listed above apart from using the Handkerchiefs or Cloth “Tissues. Thanks for sharing.

  6. How can we encourage grocery pick up to use reusable bags? I have been ordering my groceries and HATE having all the plastic bags. HATE it.

    • I usually leave a comment in the “directions” box when I order that I will bring my own bags and to avoid using produce bags if possible. It may depend on the stores where you are. You could maybe try calling or emailing and asking if there is not a spot when you order to mention bringing your bags.

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