pick your paradise and protect it.

The Kid Bag (The Sustainable Everyday Bag: Mom Edition)

One of the most important pieces in my mom purse is the kid bag. 

Kids get into things and they need to be entertained so having the essentials on hand has been a lifesaver throughout the day. I’m not saying this is a bag to hand to your kids and let them have at it, rather these are the things YOU will need throughout the day with your kids.

Since my daughter is six years old, this bag might look a little different for you if your child is younger or older. For example, if you have an infant, you might include an extra binkie or chew necklace. Even though some of the items in this section might not apply to the age of your child, you can still use the same principles when looking for items to fill your kid bag.

With those principles in mind, I have included 20 items in the kid bag that I have found to be essential while we are out and about tackling the hip happenings of the day. From school drop off, to soccer, to dance, to a restaurant, to playing at the park, I have found all of these items to come in handy on a day-to-day basis.

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1. SNACKS

Kids are always hungry and growing. That’s why this is the number one item you will always find in any mom’s purse. I tend to throw snacks into my bag, but I always keep an “emergency snack” in the kid bag. 

It’s really hard to find prepackaged snacks with plastic-free packaging though. So in some ways, if your child is a picky eater, you may not be able to get around this. If your kid is not picky though, start with the package-free items like fruits, veggies, premade snacks in to-go containers, or buy bulk items and throw those in to-go containers to limit plastic packaging waste.

For packaged items though, the snacks by Bear Nibbles have been one of my favorites. The ingredients are super clean, it’s an extra serving of fruit, and the packaging is not made of plastic. 

2. BANDAIDS, FIRST AID OINTMENT & COTTON SWABS

BANDAIDS

Most Bandaids are made out of plastic. These Bandaids by Patch have been such a gem of a find though because they are made of bamboo, a material that will degrade WAY quicker than the plastic alternatives. Also, the idea of plastic stuck to my daughters body for an extended period of time is a no-go for me. The health effects associated with plastic are not worth it. 

You can find these online, in target, in Walgreens, basically anywhere that sells Bandaids, or online. See below:

Get PATCH Bandaids HERE

FIRST AID OINTMENT

What goes with Bandaids?? Ointment! It’s hard to find a triple antibiotic ointment in plastic-free container, but it’s not impossible. This ointment by Green Goo comes in a reusable tin that I could wash out and use for another purpose once the ointment runs out. With a tube, it would go straight in the trash. 

These can be found in Walgreens or online, see below:

Get the travel size of Green Goo First Aid Ointment HERE

COTTON SWABS

Did you know that generic brand cotton buds are made of plastic and cotton, but original cotton buds are made of paper and cotton? It’s great that original cotton buds are not contributing to the plastic problem in that way, but let’s talk about their packaging… all plastic.

So are there cotton buds that are truly plastic-free? Yes. These Zero Waste Cotton Swabs by Well Earth Goods are made of bamboo and cotton. Better yet, there packaging comes in a recyclable cardboard container that you can either recycle or reuse when your cotton buds run out.

To save on space, I cut the cotton buds in half so that they fit into the container for my kid bag. These can be found at our local zero market or online at Well Earth Goods, see below:

Get Zero Waste Cotton Swabs HERE

3. CLIPS & HAIR TIES

CLIPS

In this case, I had so many clips on hand over the years, I opted for the “use what I have on hand” principle. If you are in search of clips though, you can get cute eco-friendly options below:

Tallulah Recycled Cork Hair Clips

Handmade Felt & Metal Hair Clips

Tropical Metal Hair Clips

Handmade Floral Fabric Hair Snaps

HAIR TIES

Hair ties on the market are made of various different materials. Some are made of pure plastic, some with rubber and fabric, and some with metal accents. The thing to consider with hair ties is the plastic-use, but also where the other materials come from. For example, is the rubber sustainably harvested?

It might seem insignificant to choose an eco-conscious hair tie, but really when you think about it, how many hair ties have you lost or broken because of normal wear and tear? I’m going to guess a lot and like everything, the little things add up. These hair ties by Terra Ties have been my favorite so far. Straight from the terra ties website, “Terra Ties are made of natural rubber extracted from rubber trees and organic cotton. Terra Ties are colored with natural dyes and our packaging is made of 100% recycled materials.” Plus, they work really well and last forever.

To get your own Terra Ties > CLICK HERE.

4. Lip Balm

This is another item that might seem like an insignificant contribution to the plastic pollution problem because of its size, but the little things really add up. It is possible to find lip balm with eco-friendly packaging. Unfortunately, I have not seen plastic-free options in brick and mortar stores yet, but these zero waste lip balms by Nudi Goods have been my favorite available online, see below:

Get your own zero waste lip balm > HERE.

5. LOTION

This is an item that should ideally use the “refill/reusable” principle. Since lotion is used often enough, the travel-sized plastic tubes will add up by contributing to more plastic pollution.

However, it’s really easy to find a reusable jar, tube, or bottle to keep refilling from a larger lotion bottle that you can keep at home.

The container I have for my bag is from our local Zero Market and the lotion is also from Zero Market, but is refilled from my larger bottle at home.

If you are in need of a travel size jar and/or want to start buying lotion bulk > CLICK HERE.

6. BENADRYL

I always like to keep Benadryl on hand just in case my daughter has an allergic reaction to something new. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a zero waste or sustainable option for this since medicine generally comes wrapped in plastic. To reduce plastic, you could buy a large container of Benadryl and put several into a reusable/refillable jar. If you have any suggestions, list them in the comment section of this blog!

7. SUNSCREEN

There are a lot of sustainable sunscreens on the market; unfortunately they are not yet sold in mainstream stores like Target, Walmart, etc. There are SO many available online from different brands though, so it’s worth checking out which one would be best for your child. My favorite is the push up stick for kids from Raw Elements because the ingredients are clean, it’s reef-safe, and the packaging is made of recyclable cardboard. 

To add this sunscreen to your kid bag, CLICK HERE.

To learn more about why buying sustainable and reef safe sunscreen is important, check out my Sunscreen Summertime Madness blog post > HERE.

8. MARKERS, PENS & NOTEBOOKS

MARKERS

You might be thinking, “Kylie, markers are made of plastic. Why not use crayons?” Well, you’re right! Good observation!

If your child likes to use crayons, please pack those in your kid bag instead of markers, but my daughter loves markers and I’ve had to adapt to that. What I love about Crayola specifically though is that they have a recycle program. It’s a little extra work on my end to send the dried-out markers back to Crayola so they can repurpose them, but it’s worth it to me to reduce plastic in landfills.

Check out Crayola’s Recycle Program HERE.

PENS

I know that everyone has pens in there house that they have accumulated from previous school years or marketing campaigns from local businesses. Use what you have on hand first. The most sustainable option is to use what you have on hand before purchasing a product, because the process to manufacture and ship products still contributes to the carbon footprint. 

If you are all out of pens at home, check these sustainable options:

Cork & Recycled Wheat Straw Retractable Ballpoint Pen

Natural Grass Pen

NOTEBOOKS

Kids love to draw and encouraging that creativity is really important for their development. Also, what good is having markers without paper? I got these recycled paper notebooks from Zero Market, but check out these options below if you don’t already have notebooks on hand:

ReSketch Notebook

Decomposition Notebooks (by Michael Roger specifically)

PML Studio Planter Jotter Notebooks

9. HAND SANITIZER & EXTRA MASK

HAND SANITIZER

Because of 2020, hand sanitizer is readily available and for purchase almost anywhere including the Zero Waste stores!! What’s great about this is that you use a glass/metal jar or spray bottle and keep refilling it whenever you run out.

I like to have my large glass jar filled at Zero Market with their bulk hand sanitizer and then I refill the small spray bottle at home.

EXTRA MASK

This is our new normal and instead of being grumpy or complaining about it, I choose to be prepared. There are a lot of other things in my life that I’d like to use my energy on and complaining about wearing a mask is not one of them. Depending on where you live a mask might be required and that is definitely something you don’t want to forget halfway to your destination. 

I found these adorable masks on Etsy a few months ago and they have been so perfect for my daughter. Unfortunately, the shop is not selling this item anymore, but I’ve put a couple of other options below. What’s great about this? I’m supporting a small business by buying from Etsy and there are organic cotton options available. Look for “organic cotton” when purchasing masks!

Kid’s Face Mask by LittleOrganicCompany

10. WIPES & MUSLIN BAG

WIPES

Kids always get messy as they should! That’s one of the best ways to learn. To clean up the mess though, there are definitely sustainable and reusable alternatives to avoid contributing more waste to a landfill and the environment.

The most sustainable option is to use what you have on hand. For example, you could cut up an old T-shirt or sheet  to make washable wipes. I did not have anything on hand that wasn’t in use unfortunately, so I opted for these reusable wipes from Zero Market.

If you don’t have any old sheets or towels to make into wipes also, check out the reusable wipes below:

Small Face Cloth-Wipes

Organic Fair Trade Certified Washcloths

Reusable Cloth Baby Wipes

Marley’s Monsters Cloth Wipes

MUSLIN BAG

Let’s call this the wash bag or trash bag. This is for anything dirty that needs to be washed and ready for reuse. Dirty wipes, utensils, straws, snack wrappers, you name it. It helps to keep all of this in one place. It also helps to keep the rest of your items clean and easily removeable for washing. I picked mine up at Zero Market, but you can also purchase these online below:

Muslin Organic Reusable Produce Bags

Plastic-Free Adjustable Juco Sandwich Bag (if you need a little bit more space)

Colibri Reusable Cloth Snack Bag

11. BAMBOO UTENSILS

Lila and I dubbed last Summer our “Ice Cream Summer” since we were able to spend so much time outside riding bikes and playing in the park. We made several trips to the ice cream shop each week.

The ice cream shop that we like to go to uses compostable utensils and cups; however, they don’t have a compost bin.

So unfortunately, the “compostable” utensils don’t matter since they will find their way to the landfill anyways.

These reusable bamboo utensils have been great! They come in a pouch to keep them clean until use and then you can put them back in the pouch when you are done to keep the other things in your bag clean. 

To get your own reusable utensil set for your little one, choose one of these options:

PPC Reusable Bamboo Utensils in Sleeve

Bamboo Utensil Set

12. REUSABLE STRAWS

When I talk about straws and their impact on the environment, I almost always reference that viral video of the turtle getting a straw ripped out of his nose. That was one of the first videos that made me stop and think about my impact on the environment in regards to my plastic-use. Is the convenience of plastic worth the harm it causes to our bodies, animals, and the environment? No, it’s really not. The Last Straw is a fantastic brand that is combatting plastic pollution by providing reusable straws. 

I cannot tell you how many restaurants I have been to that use reusable cups for Bryan and I, but the kids cup for Lila is fully made of plastic equipped with a plastic straw. I keep these short straws on hand for just that and then when we are ready to leave the restaurant, I’ll will wipe the straw with my napkin and plop it in my muslin bag to wash when we get home.

Lila likes to say, “Easy peasy lemon squeezy!” Get your reusable straws at your local Zero Waste store or online, see below: 

4 Piece Rainbow Cocktail Set (5 inches long and available in several colors)

Stainless Steel Straws with Cleaner and Cotton Carrying Case (9 inches long)

13. STASHER BAGS

So as you can tell, I like bags to organize the things in my purse. Well, I also like bags inside my bags for further organization. Finding something that won’t take up much space is hard so people generally resort to plastic baggies. Not anymore!

These are the ULTIMATE replacement for plastic baggies! I will be doing a review on these soon, but until then all you need to know is that these are fantastic, durable, plastic-free and they come in so many cute colors! I love these SO much!!! To get your hands on a couple of these, they are available at Whole Foods or check out the options on line below:

Stasher Bags (various sizes)

All of these items have come in handy in one way or another. I cannot tell you how many times we’ve needed lotion because the hand sanitizer is drying my daughters hands out or a spare hair tie for soccer because we remembered the soccer bag, but not the hair tie. 

I hope this helped you plan out the kid portion of your mom bag or at least inspired you to start planning so that you can have what you need on hand to make the days feel a little less scrambled. Many of these items can be used for kids of all ages, but have fun customizing your own kid bag to meet the needs of your child’s current stage in life. Just remember to use those main principles I mentioned when shopping. 

To check out what is in The Sustainable Everyday Bag: Mom Edition >CLICK HERE.

To check out the other sections of The Sustainable Everyday Bag: Mom Edition, click on any of the links below:

PERSONAL CARE ITEMS/BEAUTY BAG

ELECTRONICS & FREE FLOATING ITEMS

Click HERE to subscribe to my blog for future zero waste, sustainable, and plastic-free tips, tricks, and reviews of alternatives to products that we use everyday.

Until next time, 

Kylie

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