DIY zero waste travel kit

My family of 4 takes a few road trips around the west coast every summer, and we try really hard to avoid creating trash while we travel.  We’ve definitely had our moments of last minute, unplanned fast food stops (vegan burgers from Burger King aren’t too bad!). 


But now that things are opening up a bit more, we’re able to avoid most trash when we travel with a pretty simple DIY zero waste travel kit and a little bit of planning ahead.  


This is what we bring with us on road trips and when we travel by plane.

Here’s a quick caveat for you: we aren’t trying to travel super light.  Vegan kids don’t always have lots of choices and might be a little picky at times, so we tend to overpack a little to make travel go more smoothly for everyone.  You might find that you don’t need all of these things if you’re more minimalist and flexible in your foods.


  • travel mug for everyone who might want a hot or specialty beverage. 

I drink coffee most mornings, and my daughters like the occasional boba tea or frozen lemonade or orchata. And as I’m filming this, most businesses are letting you bring in your own reusable coffee mug again. So we get our coffees, frappucinos, or frozen lemonades in our own containers.  Just wash it well before you bring it in and don’t be afraid to ask!

  • water bottle – for everyone. 

Pretty self explanatory.  On road trips, we keep a few extras in the car with extra water. On plane trips, we bring a couple of extras too in case they won’t refill our water for us and want us to use their plastic cups.

  • travel size fork/spoon/knife (but not on an airplane) or spork for everyone.

If we’re eating somewhere that doesn’t use real silverware, we’ll ask them to keep the forks .  Usually they oblige, sometimes they forget, but if we’ve got forks and spoons, we know we can skip disposable ones. Putting them on the table helps remind the staff that you don’t need utensils.

  • reusable straws

This is one of those items you can probably get away without, but if you’ve got kids who get excited about frozen lemonade or boba tea, one of these is a nice addition to your DIY zero waste travel kit!

BTW, if you want a little pouch that holds your utensils & straw, I’ve got a tutorial video HERE

  • cloth napkins

We always have a few of these handy.  They let us avoid paper napkins & are great for a spill in the car. I have a video tutorial HERE & a blog post HERE on how to sew your own napkins here.  Remember to ask folks to hold the napkins if you’re eating somewhere that doesn’t use real napkins.  Sometimes we still get paper napkins on accident, which we use & compost or save it in the car for emergencies.

  • mason jar, bento box or container, and/or a wax wrap or waxed snack bag

It’s great to have a couple of containers to hold leftovers or snacks on the go.  I’ve got a video tutorial on how to make a waxed snack bag HERE. This lets us avoid takeout boxes, which usually end up as landfill waste.

  • cloth bags for snacks & pastries

If we didn’t finish the chips or breadsticks, we can just put them in a bag.  It’s also great for packing sandwiches for lunches.  We usually bring a drawstring bag & snack & sandwich sized bags.  They’re usually holding our snacks on the way out of the house, so we often don’t have to think about packing these.  I’ve got a video HERE on how to make a drawstring bag & a video HERE & tutorial HERE on how to make snack & sandwich sized bags too.   

  • shopping bags.

Depending on where you’re going and for how long, you’ll probably need to shop for some food, so remember to bring your own bags!

  • compost container

We always try to compost when we’re out and about.  Some places that you visit have compost collection these days, which is great. And if not, there are resources: & have compost finder maps.  Local community gardens, or even a local farm might be able to take your compost.  If none of those are available and you’re driving, you can just bring it home to your own bin.  If you keep the lid on your compost, it should be fine until you get back.  If we’re traveling for over a week, we’ll usually have a large bin with a lid for our compost and drive it home with no issues.


And here’s a couple of bonus tips for zero waste travel:

  • Find local bulk bins near you has a great list. has a list too.  Look up some local bakeries & delis for unpackaged bread & treats. 

  • Pack awesome snacks.

Having awesome snacks from the bulk bins & fruits & veggies that travel well can help you avoid last minute, spontaneous stops for food.  We usually bring a couple of fresh loaves of bread & some yummy spreads (homemade cashew cheese, hummus).

  • Plan ahead!

Think about those meals that might be a little rushed or unscheduled – like the dinner on the road in between your stops.  You might be able to find a place to eat if you look online in advance, or maybe you’ll remember to pack a meal for that stretch of your trip. 

There’s how to create a truly DIY zero waste travel kit. I hope that’s helpful for you!  Is there anything you’d add to this list? Leave a comment below! Or anything you know for sure you wouldn’t use?  Tell me that too.


Thanks for reading!




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How to sew a zippered pouch!

Want to make a zippered pouch? Even if you’re new to sewing, you can make one in no time at all!


A zipper pouch is perfect for your pencils and markers, art supplies, toiletries, make-up, special things and more!  And these make the best little gifts for your loved ones!


So let’s go!

If you’d like to see a video of this process, head to to watch me sew this up!

Here’s what you’ll need to make a zippered pouch


  1. Your kit includes: 7” zipper – try to find a cotton one with metal teeth – it’ll breakdown at the very end of its life, but polyester ones with plastic teeth will be on the planet FOREVER!
  2. Your kit includes: Fabric- I love organic cotton fabric for my products – easier on the planet and the farmers and on us!  You’ll need to cut 4 pieces that measure  8.5”w x 5.5”l.  2 pieces are your outside or outer panels, and 2 pieces are your inside or inner panels.
  3. Matching thread – again, i’m all about the organic cotton!
  4. Plus your iron, some pins/clips, and  your sewing machine!

Now that you have your supplies, here are the steps to make your zippered pouch: 

**Iron your kit fabric before starting!**

Step 1: Attach the fabric to one side of your zipper 

  1. Line up your outer layer right side up with the top of the zipper facing down on top of your fabric.  So the right sides of the fabric is facing the right side/top side of the zipper.  Clip in place.  Or pin if you don’t have clips :).

2. Next, place the inner layer on top of the bottom of the zipper.  You’re making a zipper sandwich with the zipper in between your inner layer and outer layer of fabric.  Make sure that the right side of the inner layer of fabric is facing the right side of the outer layer of fabric.  Add this to your clips.

3. Put a zipper foot on your machine and stitch about ¼” from the edge of the fabric/zipper sandwich, removing the clips as you get close to them.  When you’re done, make sure you caught all the fabric and zipper tape in your seam.

4. Take your finished side to your iron and press the right sides down.  You’re trying to iron the fabric away from the zipper teeth as much as possible.  This way they won’t get caught when you’re trying to zip your pouch.  

Iron along this seam and make sure the fabric is pressed away from the zipper teeth.
Top stitched after ironing.

5. Take it back to your machine and top stitch all along this seam.


Step 2: Attach the fabric to the other side of your zipper

  1. Next, line up the remaining piece of outer layer of fabric on other side of the zipper – the side of the zipper that is still open/unattached.  Again make sure that the right side of your outer layer of fabric faces the top of the zipper.  Pin/clip in place.

2. Next, place the remaining piece of inner layer of fabric onto the bottom side of the zipper.  You’re again making a zipper sandwich.  The right sides of the inner and outer layers will be facing one another with the zipper in the middle.  Add the inner layer into your pins/clips.

3. Stitch together with the zipper foot close to edge.  Make sure you caught all the fabric and zipper in your seam.


4. Like you did for the other side of the zipper, press the right sides down and away from the zipper teeth as much as possible.  This helps them not get caught in the zipper teeth.


5. Top stitch all along this seam.

Top stitched after being ironed.

Step 3: Sew the sides of the bag

  1. Lay the bag flat on your surface so that the zipper is in the center, the outer layers are facing each other (right sides facing) and the inner layers are facing eachother (right sides facing).  Make sure that the zipper is at least partially open.
Make sure zipper is partially open.
Clip along sides, leaving 5″ opening.

2. You’re going to stitch all around the bag, leaving a 5” opening at the bottom, so first pin all around the bag and mark the area that you won’t sew closed.  This opening will let you turn the bag right side out later.  Make sure that the seams on the zippers are lined up with one another.  And have the zipper tape pointing down into the inner layer area of the pouch, rather than pointing up towards the outer layer fabric. 

Make sure the seam at the zipper is lined up when you clip it in place.

3. Start at one side of the 5” opening and start sewing all around.  Backstitch at the start and stop of the opening.  


Step 4: Finish the bag

  1. Turn the bag right side out through the bottom opening.


2. Sew shut the bottom opening.  You can iron this opening if it doesn’t fold in neatly before you sew it.

Stitch closed the opening at the bottom. Make sure all the fabric is pressed in and caught in the seam.



3. Trim any loose threads on the inside and the outside of the bag and you’re done!  


Wasn’t that easy?  Making a zipper pouch is a great beginner project.  Once you make one, you’ll want to make 10 more for everyone you know :).


If you make one, tag @no_trace_shop in Instagram and share your finished bag!  I’d love to see it.


Thanks for reading and for all that you do for our planet :).


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DIY plastic-free face mask with pocket


Face masks are going to be around for a while, so why not make yourself a comfortable, sustainable one?  This tutorial will show you how to make a face mask that’s



Can you tell how excited I am about this plastic-free face mask?


This project is easy enough to finish in about 30 minutes or less.  You don’t need special sewing skills either!  Here’s what you need:

Supplies to  make your very own plastic-free face mask:

  1. Fabric for your outer layer that measures 12” wide x 8.5 height” – I use organic cotton for fabric because it’s more sustainable than conventional cotton or cotton/poly blend fabric. I’ve got a whole post on why you should buy organic cotton over HERE. (
  2. Fabric for your inner layer that measures 9”w x 16”h.  Different outer & inner layer fabrics helps you keep track of the inside and outside of your mask, so try to use two prints/colors if you can.
  3. Cotton elastic that measures about 30” if you want it to go around the head. Or 14” (x2) if you want to put it around the ears.  If you can’t find cotton elastic, organic cotton cording works great too.  You’ll need about 45” to go around the head and less than that for the ears – try 16” to start and see if that fits.  I’ve also seen folks use strips of cotton knit fabric to make the loops instead of elastic.  If you search for “DIY t-shirt yarn”, you can find plenty of tutorials to upcycle an old t-shirt into yarn.  Any of these is ultimately going to breakdown in your home compost.  Regular synthetic elastic will NOT and is made with fossil fuels.
  4. Pins or clips
  5. Thread – organic cotton thread is great if you’re buying thread and trying to make a plastic-free mask.  You can also use regular cotton thread if you can’t find organic.  If you only have access to polyester thread, just remember that it’s a form of plastic & can’t be composted at the very end of its life.  You can recycle it in certain cities or with (with one of their fabric recycling boxes).  Just cut the stitched area out of your mask at the very end of its life to separate synthetic material from compostable material.
  6. Scissors – small ones are handy if you have them.
  7. Safety pin – the bigger the better!
  8. Pencil or chopstick
  9. Iron
  10. Optional: paperboard with pleats, alligator/salon hair clips
  11. Sewing machine


Got  your supplies?  Let’s go!

Steps to make a plastic-free face mask:


Also – if you want to see my YouTube video of this project, CLICK HERE!


First prep the two pieces of fabric & then sew them together:

  1. Fold over ½” of the top edge of the outer layer of fabric (wrong side to wrong side).  Press it down at the iron.  Then stitch a straight line across the fold to hold it in place.

2. Fold the inner layer fabric in half lengthwise so that now it measures 9” wide by 8” tall.  Find the center of the inner layers – you can just fold it in half lengthwise and press a small crease with your fingers at the top.  Do the same with the outer layer.  Place the inner layers on top of the outer layer of fabric, making sure that the centers are lined up with one another.  Make sure that the right sides of the fabric are touching.  And make sure that the folded edge of the inner layer is touching the hemmed edge of the outer fabric.  This’ll be the filter pocket when you’re done.

3. Pin the bottom edges together in a few spots.


4. Pin the top edges together at 2” away from the edge of the inner layer.  Place 2 pins right next to each other.  These side-by-side pins will remind you to stop when you get to the pins (I learned this little trick from Jennifer Maker of Youtube!).  Do this for both sides of the inner layer.  You’re going to sew about 2” on each side only so that there’s an opening where you can put the filter.  

Only sew from the edge of the liner fabric to the double pins, leaving an opening in the middle for the filter pocket.


5. Stitch straight across the bottom edge with about ½” seam allowance. Make sure to do a backstitch at the start and stop.

6. Stitch the two areas of the top edge – just 2” on each side of the inner layer – with a ½” seam allowance. Make sure to do a backstitch at the start and stop at each side.

Next, create the pleats:

7. Turn the mask right side out.  Use your pencil or chopstick to push out the seams and make a nice crisp edge at the top & bottom.  Iron the seams.


8. Next, you’ll make 3 pleats in your mask that are each about 1” tall.  You’re folding the mask from about 8” tall to about 3” tall by creating the pleats. 


**Note:  If you want to make lots of masks, you can create a little pleating board out of paperboard (like a cereal box or old posterboard).  Just cut a rectangle out of paperboard that measures 12” by 8” tall.  Then fold 3 pleats into the paperboard that each measure about 1”.  You want the final size of your pleating board to be 12” wide by 3” tall after finishing the pleats.  Press the pleats very hard – you can even iron them. To use your pleating board, just place the fabric on top of the pleating board and push the fabric into each of the pleats.  Take the board to the iron and press the fabric at the iron right on top of the pleating board.  Then just gently pull the pleating board out.  


If you don’t use a pleating board, just create your pleats by hand & then iron them really well.  Next, put pins into the pleats in a few different places to hold the pleats in place for the next steps.  If you want to get some metal alligator clips for this process, they work really well too.


Next, create the channels for the elastic/cording.

9. Fold over the short edge of the mask about ¼” and press in place at the iron.

10. Fold over the short edge again about 1” and press in place at the iron.  You want to have a channel that’s about ½” to ¾” wide after sewing so it can fit your elastic or cording.


11. Pin this channel in place.  I like to put the mask under the presser foot & lower the presser foot and then CAREFULLY pull the pins out before I start sewing.  Then stitch close to where the edge of the folded over fabric meets the inner layer fabric so the channel is as wide as possible.  I like to do two rows of stitches to really hold the pleats down.  Make sure to do a backstitch at the end when you go back over your original stitches.


12. Repeat these steps for the other short side of the mask to make the other channel.

13. Take a safety pin onto the elastic or cording and then push it through the channels.  Tie a loose knot & try you mask on to adjust the length to fit comfortably.  Once you have the right lenght, you can hide the knot inside the channels if you like!  Trim the loose threads.

You’re done! 

These masks sew up so fast and have 3 layers of fabric for even better filtering.  Plus with the filter pocket, you can catch even more particles from the air.


I hope you have fun making masks of your own!  If you need a plastic-free kit to make your own mask, I’ve got some here.


I’d love to see a photo of your masks or hear about it!  Leave a comment below & tag your project on Instagram with #notracemaker!


Thanks for reading!


Liz at No Trace

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Shop in person at an upcoming farmer’s market!

No Trace will be at the following farmer’s markets.  Come by to shop in person!



Felton Farmers’ Market

‎120 Russell Ave

Tuesdays, 2:30pm-6:30pm

July 25, August 22, Sept. 26, Oct. 24


Westside Farmers’ Market

Mission St. Ext. and Western Dr.

Saturdays, 9am-1pm

Sept. 23, Oct. 21, Nov. 18, Dec. 9, Dec. 23


Scotts Valley Farmers’ Market

King’s Village Dr, Scotts Valley Community Center

Saturdays, 9am-1pm

Sept. 9, Sept 30, Oct. 28


Hope to see you!


It’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog post and thought I’d share some of what I’ve been up to the past two+ months!  I’ve been getting No Trace goods out into the community and it’s been a blast!  Starting No Trace and sharing my work has been such an awesome learning experience so far.  I’ve met so many people who care about zero waste and have gotten to explain zero waste and all of my products to tons of other folks.  It has been really fun talking with people of all ages and experiences at different events.  Here are some of the highlights of the last couple of months.


Summer festivals!

It’s been summer festival season here in Santa Cruz, and I’ve been to several over the past months.

  • Jewish Cultural Festival
  • Mountain Maker’s Market
  • Etsy Maker’s Market
  • 4th of July Craft Fair at the Aptos Grange


These have all been really fun events.  I’ve been selling my pieces and also connecting with lots of great members of the community.  Thanks to everyone for organizing these events and to everyone who turned out!

Here’s my booth at the Jewish Cultural Festival – a day of great food, music, local vendors, and fun times!  




 Farmer’s Markets!

I’m thrilled to announce that No Trace is now available at each of the following farmers’ markets!  

  • Westside
  • Felton
  • Scotts Valley

Farmer’s Markets are a great place to shop zero waste or begin your zero waste journey.  You can buy fresh, locally grown produce, most of it organic, and most of it completely package free! No Trace goods fit in really well at the Farmer’s Markets – lots of shoppers want sustainable food bag and wrap options.  It has been great sharing my bags and wraps with so many shoppers.  And I’ve loved meeting all the other vendors at the market – super nice folks!

Here’s a picture of my first Farmer’s Market booth at Felton.   I’ll be at each of these markets about once a month for the rest of the year.  



New Retail Stores!
I’m so pleased to announce that No Trace is now available for sale at two new retail locations!

  • Food Lounge in Downtown Santa Cruz!
  • Art Inspired of Capitola!

Here’s a picture of my pieces at Art Inspired of Capitola. Snuggled right next to some other locally made home goods.

You can also find No Trace at GreenSpace on the westside of Santa Cruz and the Homeless Garden Project near the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. I love partnering with local businesses!

New racks!
Last update – I’ve been doing a tiny bit of woodworking to find the best way to display my tea towels and napkins.

I love doing a little woodworking every now and then. And this is a really handy way to show off my work :).

So that’s what’s new at No Trace! Follow me on Instagram for pictures and snippets of my day-to-day (@no_trace_shop).

Thanks for reading!