is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
It frustrates me how much senseless waste we all generate on a daily basis simply by going about our business. Plastic bags, paper napkins, plastic cutlery, water bottles… it’s unnecessary and, maybe obviously but perhaps not imperatively enough, it’s also incredibly damaging to the planet. I’m just one person and can only do so much, but nevertheless a while back I decided to start carrying these three essential items in my work bag—my attempt at doing a tiny bit to help reduce all this consumption.
First is this OutSmart titanium spork. As the name implies it’s a fork and a spoon but it actually has a little serrated edge that lets it do triple duty as a reasonably effective knife too. Being made of titanium, it’s super lightweight as well as surprisingly strong. Additionally, it’s TSA-approved for your carry-on bags and it’s healthier than shoving crappy plastic cutlery in your mouth. Just US$11 from Amazon.
Next up is this amazing Zojirushi stainless steel water canister. Any water bottle will do but this is the best one that I’ve ever owned. It keeps cold drinks cold for days and features a surprisingly effective lock mechanism to help ensure that its contents don’t spill all over your other belongings. This canister alone has reduced my plastic consumption immeasurably simply because it’s allowed me to stop buying bottled water—which in my opinion are maybe the most wasteful products of all. At US$28 from Amazon, it costs way more than I would recommend spending on a water bottle, but maybe ask for it at the holidays.
Finally, I also keep a simple, lightweight canvas tote bag rolled up in my bag. There’s nothing special about this bag at all. It’s exactly the same as any of a dozen canvas tote bags you might have gotten at some conference or event or fundraiser or whatever. But having this with me has allowed me to say “no thanks” countless times when cashiers offer to put my purchases in plastic bags. Of all the items I carry, this is the one that I’ve had with me most consistently and for longest, and I like to think about the reasonably substantial pile of plastic bags that I’ve saved from the landfill as a result. Don’t buy your own—just wait until someone gives one to you for free.+