Emergency car kit realized

How long has it been since I decided I needed to put together an emergency car kit for all of those times I’m out in the wild and I need reusables?

(Oh. May 4. Well, I did better than I thought.)

I didn’t want a huge kit – just something I could hang over the headrest on the passenger side of the front seat for easy access. (Although when the four of us are going somewhere, I have to move it to the trunk.) And I didn’t want to buy anything, either. Not that I’m against cute things. (I did just buy those un-plastic baggies.) I just want to embrace what I already have. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Small glass jar with lid for chocolate emergencies (hello, bulk bin!)
  • Large glass jar with lid for iced coffee emergencies
  • Plastic container for takeout emergencies
  • Fork, spoon, straw and cloth napkin, all held in one of those aforementioned un-plastic baggies (it BARELY fit because of the straw, but I was super motivated to make it work)
  • Reusable grocery sack to store it all in
"The kit."

“The kit.”

That plastic container is from when the girls took bento boxes to school for lunch – they have a different set up now. And fun fact: I got that grocery sack at Yellowstone probably six years ago.

This whole ordeal had been in my car a full week before I even got to use anything. As usually happens, though, I was out and about, and realized that A) I really wanted an iced Americano and 2) I also needed a sandwich.

Well, it was as good a time as any to test this thing out. First stop: Coffee drive-thru. This was the second time I’ve attempted to get an iced drink in a jar – the first time, I forgot to say, “No straw!” so I ended up with one. THIS time, I remembered. And felt pretty good about that . (It’s the small things.)

Next came the cute little bakery on the corner. This place is where I take my reusable cloth sacks for bread, and I’ve never had a problem with anything. Good place for the maiden voyage of that old bento box.

Ordering goes well – I explain I want that baguette sandwich cut in half and placed in my box – and the kid behind the counter is all like, oh, yeah, no problem. And takes my box and gives me a number. I watch other people getting their to-go sandwiches wrapped in the bakery’s signature brown paper. And then another kid – not the one who took my order – hands me my sandwich.



In paper.

And I’m like, well, I guess the straw is going to be the victory for the day.

I hate to make a fuss, because I’m just not a fusser and also because I need these people on my side. So I ask about my box, and the kid is all like, yeah, where DID that go? And it takes him literally two minutes to hunt it down.

And then he starts to unwrap my sandwich to put in the box.

And I’m like, you know what? Seriously, it’s okay, I can take the paper. And he was all, are you sure? And I was like, I really am. I just like to gum up the system, ha ha, and point to my box.

And then another kid said, you know what? Keep trying, it’s a good thing.

She’s my new best friend.

I don’t feel great about this experience, but I don’t feel terrible, either – I think mostly I’m just disappointed I didn’t get to use my kit the way I’d hoped. I will be trying again, and I’m betting on success. It was an honest oversight.

And then I came home and got everything washed and put back into the kit for next time. (Or the straw and the jar, at least.)

Anyone else have a car kit made up yet? What did you put in yours? Have you gotten to use it? I want to hear!

Next up: Life is getting away from me, you guys, so my next post will be Friday, and I’m hoping it will be either about zero waste beer (that one is for Eric) or on a recent trip we took to Eugene – specifically, the amazing bulk aisle at one of the markets.

17 Responses to Emergency car kit realized

  1. Really loving your humorous take on the whole project. “YOU WILL FIT!” That got a good chuckle from me. My recycling bin at the end of the weekend would be a screenshot of shame; the plastic and paper products breed like rabbits! So, I’ll be looking at your example as a realistic model of inspiration.

    • I think mine is from Ball — it came in a pack of four. We got them a few years ago. Mostly they get used my youngest, but I figured she wouldn’t miss one. It works fine, holds up in the dishwasher, seems to get clean … although I keep thinking I’d like a stainless steel one. Well, until I read jeannesutter’s comment below. 🙂

      Anyway, not thrilled about the plastic part, but hey, I’ll keep it around until it’s no longer usable. Tossing it just because it’s plastic seems wasteful somehow, though I can totally understand the desire to go all-in when it comes to ditching the stuff.

      • Good to know. The stainless steel ones have always seemed like maybe not such a great idea because of temperature transfer, and I’m too clumsy for glass.

        I’ve also seen silicone (or something – bpa free, etc, etc, but squishy and kind of weird) and bamboo ones. Plus, then you have to choose between straight and bent shapes. Ack! Too many decisions. I am in the “get less excited before you research so that you don’t crack and buy 20 random reusable straws” phase, so I haven’t really looked that deeply into them.

  2. Loving your project. I’ve been on a similar quest. I use a stainless steel straw but it can get REALLY cold in a cold drink, so I might pick up a glass one (next year. I’m not buying anything this year, other than food and required toiletries). I’m excited to hear if you went to Market of Choice in Eugene. Amazing bulk. Winco has amazing bulk, too, but they are not equipped to manage personal containers. Keep up the great work!

    • Spoiler alert: TOTALLY went to Market of Choice! It IS an amazing store — I just can’t get over what they have available in bulk. I had way too much fun!

      • I live in Portland so I drive out to the Beaverton store about once a month. Every time I’m there I tell the manager or the sales person how much I love the bulk department and that I make a point to drive out there to shop that department. I have a Winco nearby and I ended up there this weekend. Amazing bulk, all kinds of things, but the lack of personal container use is discouraging me from shopping there. Too many plastic bags already!

        • There’s a Beaverton store?! We very rarely drive into the Portland area, but that’s certainly something to think about … it would be worth it just for baking supplies alone. Can you believe I’ve never been to a Winco? Is it store policy or something that discourages bringing in containers? I find it interesting that things vary so much on that front from store to store.

          • Winco bulk is amazeballs. The stores aren’t set up to tare containers of any kind so you’re stuck with their plastic bags. A new store just opened up on 82nd and Powell and a girlfriend told me that a store clerk said that she could use her own bags if they don’t weigh much. You’ll end up paying for the tare, but I don’t mind. I actually just prefer to go to Market of Choice or even the food co-ops nearby and get my basics.

  3. I’m working on my car kit! I put one together in a picnic basket. When we are purposely heading out somewhere, we always take the basics with us: my reusable coffee mug, the kids take their water bottles, etc. It’s more for the unexpected market stops or the like, that I like to have stuff with us! Mine has small mason jars with lids, a set of second hand utensils for each of us, some cloth napkins, etc. I don’t like to be caught unprepared!

  4. Trisha, I am THOROUGHLY enjoying your Simple Year. You go!! I live in Portland and am lucky enough to walk everywhere including to three stores that have bulk options. We usually walk to dinner out or coffee, etc. So! I need to put a post-it on my door that says “Use the Reusables!” to remind me to tuck a jar in my bag for leftovers, etc. However, I do have a car that gets used sometimes and I think it needs its own car kit, just in case. Again, this has been a ton of fun to follow along with you. Cheers!!

    • Oh, thank you so much! I really appreciate that!

      Emergency walking kit? 😉 That sounds lovely, actually. We’re pretty rural here, so walking anywhere isn’t really an option (well, unless I’m at work — then I can get coffee or lunch on foot, at least). I love the idea of having so much close by!

  5. I missed the first paragraph of this post and started thinking, “what kind of emergency kit is this?” expecting a list of first aid items and road flares, etc. Then the Aha moment that you are talking about zero waste. This was really interesting. It kind of pains me to admit that I never considered I could go to the bakery with my own reuseable box and I have even used my own containers to shop bulk.

    • LOL! Yeah, this would be the WORST (actual) emergency car kit ever! Although I think mine really only just has jumper cables, now that I think about it…

      I actually just started taking my own bags to the bakery. I think sometimes it takes a while to get things straight in your mind before you’re ready to do them in real life — in my case, years. So no worries! Glad you found it interesting!

  6. Pingback: The continuing saga part III | The Simple Year

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