When I started out on my plastic free journey I wished there had been a kit that would make my transition easier. So I decided to put together kits myself for those in the same boat. 

Unlike reusable water bottles and reusable coffee cups which are plentiful, these are the other more crucial items that I wish I had early on. 

Each kits contains:

7 Cotton Draw String Bags (retails $19.95)
  • 4 large (28x35cm)
  • 1 medium (21x28cm)
  • 2 small (15x22cm)
1 Cotton Cutlery Wrap (retails $25.95)
  • 23cm length when rolled up – 23x27cm when rolled out
  • 1 stainless steel straw for adults
  • 1 wooden spoon
  • 1 wooden knife
  • 1 wooden fork
  • 1 wooden napkin
1 Two Tiered, 3 IN 1, Stainless Steel Lunch Box (retails for $34.95)
  • two levels to store food + a small container 
  • top tier can be used on its own
  • clips can be adjusted to be looser or tighter
  • dishwasher safe
  • not for use in microwave or hot food - metal will become hot when exposed to heat. 
  • 100% high-quality, non-toxic stainless steel
  • 10.3cm wide x 14.5cm long x 7.5cm high
  • small container :5.6cm wide x 10cm long x 4cm high 
1 Stainless Steel Cup with Black Silicone Grip (retails $8.95)
  • dishwasher safe
  • not for use in microwave
  • premium 18/8 food grade stainless steel
  • 13cm high, 8.5cm mouth
  • not advised for hot drinks - metal will become hot when exposed to heat

The bags and cutlery wraps are handmade here in Australia using material from The Fabric Cave in Sydney. The Fabric Cave sells fabric offcuts that would have ordinarily gone to landfill. It is a not for profit with proceeds going to Achieve Australia. Achieve Australia is an organization that supports disadvantaged and disabled people.

Because the fabric is donated there is little to no information on the nature of the fabric. For instance there is no way to know if the cotton is organic OR the quality of the fabric so there might be slight differences between the kits or even bags. Everything has been preshrunk. If you are vegan, please note that beeswax has been used to stop the fraying of the cords on the bags and ties on the cutlery wraps. The beeswax is from Rooftop Honey, here in Melbourne.

Retail these items would cost $89.95.

These kits are only $69.95  + postage. 

Everything will be shipped to you with as little plastic as possible* (That includes the cellulose tape!) in second hand boxes. All for just $69.95. 



*Please note that that plastic stickers from the Australian Postal sytem may be hard to avoid, especially for international buyers. 

Get Your Starter Kits for Plastic Free and Zero Waste Living HERE! O

At this stage I am not selling any of the items individually. If you would like to buy items separately I have compiled a list below of similar products. I have grouped according to readers from the northern and southern hemisphere to help you save on postage costs and carbon footprints.

Like the items in the kits the list below feature what I have found helpful and wish I had when I started living plastic free and zero waste.

Southern Hemisphere (Australia and New Zealand)

Buy - Stainless steel insulated coffee cup

Northern Hemisphere (USA, Canada and Europe)

Buy - Oval Bento Lunch Box

Buy - Portable Place mat with Cutlery Holder

Buy - Insulated Steel Pint Cup by Klean Kanteen

Buy - Organic Cotton and Hemp Produce Bag

If you happen to make a purchase through any of the links above I do receive a commission that helps to keep this blog running. I have had nothing but great experiences with the online stores that sell these items and highly recommend them to anyone.

All items to be paid within 24 hours of purchase.

Items are posted within 24-48 hours with insurance against loss or damage.

Shipping to International customers - please allow time for postage to your country.
All shipping is via Australia Post International.
International shipping - shipping times can take from 7-30 business days.

**Custom fees - international customers may be liable for customs fees on receipt of goods. Please check with your local customs office and be aware that you are responsible for any fees.

Refunds and Exchanges
Refunds or returns (minus shipping costs) will only be accepted for damaged goods. The items must be returned to me within 7 days of receipt. It is the buyers responsibility for payment of return shipping costs.

Erin Rhoads disclaims any liability, loss, injury, or damage incurred by the use of any of our products on this web site or in the store. Erin Rhoads admits no liability if damage or injury occurs through carelessness or misuse of any of our products shown on this web site or in the store. Any small parts may be hazardous if swallowed. Please keep these items away from young children and pets.

This online shop is governed by the laws and courts of Australia.

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If you are an avid reader of this blog you would remember the promise I made with Promise or Pay for Plastic Free July. Well, I broke the promise.

For those new, this is the backstory: I partnered with Promise or Pay for the Plastic Free July challenge. The goal of Promise or Pay is to help encourage people who want to achieve a goal by putting money down. Participants can make a promise, like giving up plastic for July, then put money down as an incentive to stick to the goal. If you break your promise, the money goes to a charity (in this case it went to the Two Hands Project). If you succeed and keep your promise, the money stays in your pocket. There is an option for family and friends to donate money that will go to the charity if you keep your promise.

Here is the original post. 

Seeing how I already lived a plastic free life I decided to make a different promise – convince a local café to move their plastic straws under the counter. I gave myself 35 days, put $100 down and managed to get a couple donations.

I don’t like plastic straws. I don’t quite understand why we need them beyond medical reasons. After all human beings drank for a loooooong time without them and survived. I feel like I pick up straws daily on my walk from home to the station. I receive messages from older readers who remember when straws were paper not plastic. There are reusable options like steel, glass and bamboo. Really, there is no need for the plastic straw. They are used once and thrown out, sitting somewhere, a wasted resource

When I made the promise the café I wanted to approach had already been decided. It is a short walk from my house, the usual place we feel like having a weekend breakfast outing. Besides the close proximity and yummy food, their stance on cooking with as much local and seasonal food makes me smile. Plus they sell reusable coffee cups

With 35 days, easy walk plus being a sustainably minded café, how did I end up breaking my promise?

Simply for the same reason I made the promise in the beginning.


My true intention for making the promise was to push myself out of my comfort zone. I have made the necessary changes in my life to live with less plastic and create less trash. Now it’s time for me to take what I know and share it not just on my blog but beyond. I have mentioned before that I want to become more active in my community and educate others about living with less plastic and trash. The promise was part of the step.

While I had 35 days, I was overseas for 21 of those. So I had 14 days - two weeks! I left it until the second last day of the promise to approach them. I kept putting it off, making up excuses. I was afraid of being laughed at, rejected or just made to feel stupid. It never crossed my mind that they would be receptive. I let my fear get the better of me.

On the afternoon I decided to visit the café I collected two of my stainless steel straws and wrote out a list of places to buy reusable straws (steel, glass and bamboo) and also wrote down the Responsible Café’s website for them. Off I trotted to the café. As I walked up to the door I saw a gaggle of teenage girls sipping coffee. I felt that pang of fear again. Would they hear my conversation with the café and laugh?

I then swiftly pulled myself together. After all I am a woman in her early 30s and I was doing this so these girls won’t (hopefully) have to wrestle with unnecessary plastic.

The café door opened, I approached the counter and asked for the manager. They were not in and would be back later in the week. I was a little bummed. My sister & nephew would be in town and it would be past the deadline. BUT the waiter was so kind and listened to my hasty spiel. They took my list of suggestions promising the manager would be delighted to read them.

As I walked home, listening to the train rattle past and planes flying overhead, I felt something shift. Yes I had broken my promise, but I conquered my fear. My promise was not just about the plastic straws it was about me finding a voice. I was always scared of sounding like I was preaching, being annoying or just made to feel useless.

A couple of days later I was scrolling through my newsfeed and saw that the café had signed up to be a Responsible Café from my suggestion.

As for their straws? I checked in last week and the plastic ones are GONE! Paper straws have replaced them.

I have not had time to contact other cafes yet but I am going to, because I had nothing to be worried about. If people knock me back, big deal, I will just go to another café.

If you are like me, a bit of an introvert and shy, don’t listen to those naysayer voices in your head stopping you from speaking up. Leave a note, have a word when it’s quite (they are busy working after all) or drop the establishment an email. You’re an important voice in your community and you can be an agent of change.

Thank you Promise or Pay for helping me find my voice.

Happy Monday,
Zero Waste Trip USA: Arkansas

My last visit to the Arkansas was four years ago and I never imagined the next one would be a zero waste trip to the natural state.

When people plan those epic road trips across the USA, the state of Arkansas is not usually one that people would think to visit. It is usually a drive through. But for me, it is never a drive through. For this Australian raised lady it is a second home. Half of my family live in Arkansas, so I decided to invite my boyfriend for a visit.

Arkansas is called the Natural State for the simple reason that it is full of national parks, rivers, mountains perfect for all types of outdoor actives. Now it was waaaaay to hot and humid (with no wind!) for us to really partake in any of them. It was the kind of heat that required us to have afternoons naps, then reappear in the evening when the heat is a little less intense, and the hum of cicadas fill the evening air. The Builder was able to see some of the Natural State when we visited places like Falling Water Falls and Petit Jean. I was a little bummed that I could not show him more of the national parks. Next time! Because it is a beautiful place to explore.

We did get to explore Little Rock, where we were based. We got a house through Airbnb in Cammack Village close to my family. We got to share the space with family from out of town. Little Rock is a small city but everything is spread out. Public transport can be hard to come by where we were making a hire car necessary.

Zero waste was easy in Little Rock. With it being summer there was a plentiful supply of fresh vegetables and fruit that we picked up from farmers markets. We visited two, one in the River Market district (grandma wanted fresh peaches to make the Builder a true Southern dish). The other market was held at Westover Hill’s Farmers market, not far from where we were staying. We filled our bags with locally grown tomatoes, aubergines, peaches, melons, cucumbers, eggs, zucchini, squash, snake beans, bell peppers and even tried pickled eggplant. Both markets were a treat to visit and the produce was tasty. The food we bought served us for breakfast and snacks. Except for one breakfast where I dragged him to Shipley’s Do-Nuts at 6:00am and we loaded up on Do-Nuts in our own cloth bags.

We did not have access to compost. My grandmother said it can be a little hard to compost as it attracts animals. So I got resourceful by simply chopping up the scraps into tiny (very tiny!) pieces and scattered them on the yard for the birds to enjoy. Taking it back to Australia was never a thought because of quarantine laws. I have since found out that there is a home pick up service for those in Little Rock to have compost collected and returned to you as soil.

I found a Whole Foods over on Bowman Road through the Bulk App that would have allowed us to pick up dry foods in our own bags and containers if needed. But we were so happy with the vegetables and fruit from the markets that we did not end up visiting the store.

The rest of our meals were had out because…you know…the Builder had to try some Southern dishes like catfish, hush puppies, burgers, fried chicken, BBQ and cheese dip. We always had our containers on us to scoop up any surplus food while we were out.

The Builder also found that whenever he asked for a coffee in his own cup he would get a discount automatically. There was never a sign nor did we go to shops that advertised it. It was just something they did. Maybe that was just the famous southern hospitality :)

My favourite place to eat was The Root Café on SoMa (South on Main Street) and the neighborhood around. They champion local produce from Arkansas, with a focus on fresh and homemade. The portion sizes were prfect, plus the prices were not crazy like similar places can be. This area was not what it was on my last visit so it was great to wander down the street. If you are in the area, I recommend a stop at The Green Corner Store for an ice cream. I tried the s'mores flavour. Deeevine. I also got to visit the place my parents were married. Was very sweet.

Little Rock also has a handful of local breweries. We visited Stone’s Throw and enjoyed a rather generous tasting tray. With all this new growth I wondered what the city will look like on my next visit.

A walk around The Big Dam Bridge awarded us beautiful sunset views over the Arkansas River. We also got busy picking up rubbish when we were down there.

My best part was just being with my family. Due to our locations I rarely get to see them as often as I would like. It was nothing short of lovely to introduce my boyfriend to them and also part of my history.

After our time in Hawaii we were ready for any straws and avoided them easily in Arkansas. Telling the person seating us was key to this process. This made Arkansas a straw free success for us! We always had our water bottles with us and would top them up before we left which they were always happy to do. Because it was very hot we made sure to stay hydrated.

We also visited Manhattan Beach in LA (close to the airport) on our way home. We rode bikes around to Venice and Santa Monica - taking it easy before our flight back to Melbourne.

Our flight back to Melbourne was with Qantas. It was a late night flight so we ate before we got on the plane and finished off some snacks we "acquired" from the hotel's buffet for breakfast. Taking our own ear phones, extra clothes for warmth, using a cloth bag and clothes as a pillow and our water bottles helped us avoid all trash on the flight and enjoy things like a Downtown Abbey marathon.

Here is our rubbish at the end of our trip including both Hawaii, Arkansas and LA. The main item were...receipts. Also in the trash are plane tickets, a wrist band (because apparently I look 18?!), two visitor stickers from the Clinton Presidential Library, plastic from the top of a wooden skewer, clothes tag from a second hand store shopping trip, receipt rolled up, broken elastic band, a plastic martini stick, two straws. Not pictured are two stryofoam plates and one straw. We created more trash from this trip versus our last one to the Philippines.

And I don't know why?! We did many of the things like take our own toiletries and we were way more prepared with containers for food. I think it was because for most of our trip in the Philippines we did not have to buy our own food as it was catered for during one of the weeks, so no receipts. I wish we had created less trash but lessons were learnt. It was nice to avoid the baggage tags, and I realised that I don't really need to pack that many clothes.

If I had to make suggestions or a list of what I learnt on this trip it would be the following
  • Say No to Straws. Tell the person seating you that you don’t want any water. Then ask the waiter for a glass but with no straw. The waiter will sometimes appear with glasses of water with straws in them so its key to tell the person seating you. 
  • When you order a salad and would prefer no salad dressing, don’t ask to have it on the side. It will come in a plastic container. We learnt this from looking at other patrons…which leads me to...
  • Look at the meals people are having and don’t be afraid to ask some questions on how things are served. We would always scan the restaurant/cafe to see how things worked. 
  • Give napkins back to the servers. I carry my own so we did not need them
  • Having a kit on us at all times made it really easy. We were always prepared.
  • Research where you are going, look for markets and bulk stores. 

Southern love, 
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This time last month I was in the USA, relaxing in Hawaii and visiting family in Arkansas. It was a fantastic trip, with many precious memories made. It was also the first zero waste trip I had made to the United States.

...and, it was harder than I thought it would be. I have completed trips to Myanmar, China and Philippines where avoiding waste was easier. But each country is different.

One lesson I have taken from my other zero waste trips is to simply be prepared. For this trip I did things like research the airlines, the airports for water dispensers, bulk food stores plus the tools we would need to shop and eat zero waste. Read my five Items that will make your plastic free holiday easy over at Plastic Free Tuesday.

The bulk of our trash on our last trip was made up of baggage tags that are attached to luggage when checked in. We decided to not check in any luggage and stick to carry on for the three weeks. You can read what I packed in my bags here.

The beginning of the trip

We flew to Hawaii with Jetstar, a budget Australian airline. Jetstar passengers must pre-purchase meals when booking their tickets, something I think all airlines should offer. We did not pre-purchase meals, instead we took our own food onto the plane that we snacked on.We could refill our bottles with the help of the staff.

No blankets or pillows are offered either. I packed a maxi skirt that could be used for my inflight blanket and packed clothes into one of my food bags for use as a pillow. Save on plastic packaging, save on waste and save on $$$$.

The Builder did encounter a small plastic wine bottle (I don't drink on planes - it just makes me puffy and leaves me feeling blah). He thought it would be glass. The staff assured us the plastic bottle would be recycled. He drank it bitterly.

Our plane arrived in the morning. I love that wonderful feeling of getting off a place in a warm climate when you come from a cold one. We had a connecting flight to Maui, that we found out would be delayed until late afternoon. We had eaten all our food (I had not prepared for a delayed connecting flight!) and feeling a little tired plus hangry the search for unpackaged food (or at the very least something recyclable) commenced.

We could not find anywhere in the main terminal that would serve food onto into our containers or cloth bags. There was a restaurant/bar in the airport that had ceramic dishes on the bar. Jackpot, we thought. A sandwich was ordered, and while we waited, a celebratory 'we are on holiday' local beer was poured. Then the sandwich came out...on styrofoam plates? If you are in this position at Honolulu airport find Quiznos. It was hidden in another terminal and the sandwiches come wrapped in paper (we discovered as we watched others eat them). Honolulu does have water stations to refill bottles.

One plastic wine bottle, two styrofoam plates...not off to the best start.

An email to the Honolulu airport about their lack of fruit for sale and a flight later we arrived in Maui. We headed to Paia, twenty minutes from the airport in Kahului and settled in for the week.


Our week on Maui was filled with trips along the Road to Hana (one of America's top road trips), swimming, hiking through lush forests, walking to a dormant volcano, driving along slim winding roads that leaves the average tourist wondering how the locals do it, watching my man kite board, writing, eating fresh tropical fruit, admiring turtles from the shoreline (so many turtles!!!) and wondering if I would run into Oprah. I didn't bump into Oprah but we were privy to a performance by Willie Nelson in his bar...and we did not realise it was his bar or him until we got back to Australia.

Zero Waste Trip USA: Hawaii

If you read my post on what I packed, you will remember that we took a backpack that had a bunch of items to make our trip zero waste easy. Containers, bags, cups, cutlery, straws. Wherever we went, the bag came too.

The Road to Hana was beautiful and is a major draw card for peoples visits. But my favorite part of it was visiting Coconut Glen's Ice Cream Stand. It was non dairy, made from coconut cream. We saw that the ice cream came in cardboard cups and asked if we could get the ice cream in our own cups. The dude in the stand pulled out old coconut shells instead saying we could use them if we did not mind eating at the stand. Alot of people take the paper cups to go. We used our own spoons to devour the delicious coconut cream. A must visit! Really really good. Like I went on about for a few days.

We really enjoyed staying in Paia. I not only picked it for the location but also because the guest house we stayed in had a working kitchen, plus they composted. Paia also boasts a great bulk food store called Mana Foods and we bought food from there and took it back to the house to cook. Try the local yams and sweet potatoes - heaven! We were able to eat locally sourced food the whole time we were there.

We did not eat out that much. But the times we did a race would commence to ask the waiter for no straw in our complimentary water. The first time took us by surprise because Australian's don't do straws in water.  Aussies will plonk down a glass bottle of water and two glass cups. The first time we asked a waiter that we don't want a straw - well it was an event. Be prepared for straws when in America. The first time you meet your waiter they will be serving you water with a straw. Tell the person seating you, who will be different to waiter, that you don't want any water. Then when you waiter does come ask for water with no straw. 

The easiest way to get around Maui is with a car. The island is dotted with little roadside stalls selling fruit, cakes and BBQ. We had our plastic free/zero waste travel kit on us at all times, so if we were hungry we could stop and grab something in our containers. Paia had many restaurants, but we enjoyed the food we cooked more. We ate vegetarian when we were cooking for ourselves as we could not find unpackaged meat. Keeping vegetables and fruit is easier than keeping meat so we were happy with being vegetarian. Whatever food we cooked for the evening was consumed for lunch the next day (the guest house provided free breakfast - fresh fruit from their backyard!!!). And it was not fancy cooking, just grilling local vegetables on the BBQ at the guest house. Mana Foods do have a place to buy ready made meals in to go containers but we did not ask if we could use our own.

Maui is a pretty switched on island when it comes to sustainability. Actually the whole state of Hawaii is. Being an island state they have to deal with many ramifications of plastic pollution and waste. There are plenty of beach clean ups happening on various islands too. While we could not get involved with any while we were there, that did not stop us from rolling up our sleeves and taking 3 (or more) for the sea while we were there.

With plenty of research, cooking at our guesthouse and enjoying the simple things we were able to keep waste to a minimum.

Here is our rubbish from our time in Hawaii...

We did not take the styrofoam plates because the waiter took them before we could say anything. The waiters are fast in the US!

Next stop is Arkansas...where you might be asking, why we went there!

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