For the last few months we have been making some changes to our household waste and shopping habits.
Honestly, it’s embarrassing how slow I was to adopt a true awareness around landfill.
For most of last year, every single day, Jai and I bought one, or sometimes even two, takeaway coffees – each. We had two perfectly good keep cups in the cupboard at home, but we opted for the takeaways, just out of laziness.
On average, our family of four was binning a large garbage bag a day, straight into landfill. It really was a case of out of sight, out of mind.
Since then I have had a few epiphanies.
I watched some great doco’s, and discovered some inspiring families, which caused a shift in our attitude around waste. ABC’s war on waste was my first “a-ha” moment.
This is all still very much a work in progress, but here is our first instalment of waste minimising changes.
Ditch the paper towels
When I got to the end of our last roll, instead of rebuying I just put a handful of flannel washers in the kitchen next to the tea towels and they seem to be doing all of the jobs that the paper towel used to do.
Start a compost
We have a container that we keep in the freezer where we dump all of our compost in until we take it out to our compost heap in the corner of our back-yard. Keeping it hidden away in the freezer stops it from getting smelly.
Get a tea pot
We are yet to do this because I am working my way through a huge collection of tea bags, but once they are out, we are switching to loose leaf and a tea pot. It tastes better, anyway!
Say no to wrapped fruit and vege
Oh Aldi, your individually wrapped fruit and veggies have been a sore point of mine for a while—but its time to officially break up. We’ve started going to the markets weekly for all our fruit and vege.
Not all markets or market stalls are equal though. Look out for the ones that sell everything ‘by the bag’ in an effort to out Aldi Aldi.
Our preference is Saturday mornings at the Brisbane Market at Rocklea, for the huge variety and the price, but failing that we usually head to the Milton Markets on Sundays and pick up anything we forgot. Actually, we often do both, but Milton is mainly about getting coffee & hot chocolate from Bunker – don’t forget your keep cup!
Bring your own dishes
The Keep Cup is just a gateway drug, our plan is to avoid using any paper or plastic plates and cutlery at all.
But, even with the Keep Cup, don’t forget they aren’t necessarily limited to coffee. We’ve asked for things like orange juice or smoothies to be placed in our own cups on multiple occasions too.
A great alternative to glad wrap. You can purchase these all over the web, but I am making my own. I have also whipped up a few fabric bowl lids to keep things covered in the fridge. If you are looking for some to purchase, the lovely people at Kinfolk & Co make these gorgeous linen food covers (along with so many other amazing products).
Say no to straws
This one is next on my list. I say no to straws whenever we can drink without one. But often the kids still need a straw to avoid an epic mess. I’m planning to purchase some stainless steel straws from Biome to keep in my bag.
There are some great bulk food stores around, and there is something really satisfying about scooping your own pantry staples.
My favourite is Simple Good Foods at Alderley. The staff are lovely, they have a great selection, and they are more than happy for you to bring your own containers to fill (don’t forget to get them weighed before you fill them).
Also, I did a little comparison of their prices per Kg with Coles/Woolies, and it was generally noticeably cheaper. Total win.
Reusable produce bags
It’s easy enough to just throw your apples and zuccinis in a basket, but when it comes to green beans and baby spinach, a small bag is pretty necessary.
I picked up a couple of light muslin wraps from Vinnie’s for $1 and turned them into produce bags, but if you aren’t quite so thrifty you can get them at a bunch of places online. For a cheap alternative, those little mesh wash bags meant for undies and and bras totally do the same job.
Brisbane City Council lists all of the recycling do’s and don’ts on their website. Did you know 71% of what ends up in our general waste bins could have avoided becoming landfill through compost or recycling!?
Ditch the disposable nappies
Okay, we haven’t made this switch in our house yet. Modern cloth is overwhelming, and I always felt it would mean more washing and mess to deal with, and every time I start researching I’m overwhelmed with choice.
However, recently I’ve been helping out with a family who are modern cloth pros. Having got to see it all in action, I’m totally sold on the Close Pop-In Reusable nappies, and unless I manage to toilet train the little guy soon, a set of these are on my list.
Switch to a menstrual cup
Convenient, comfortable, economical and eco friendly. After consecutive babies and lots of breastfeeding, I haven’t really had to worry about this for almost four years—but cups are totally the way forward.
Switch to Bar Soap
It’s been so long since I’ve purchased bar soap, but we’re nearing the end of our soap supply and I’ve already found myself googling “favourite Lush soaps”.
I am also looking forward to getting my hands some of the toothpastes and shampoo bars at Zero Waste Beauty Australia.
So there you have it, my starter list.
As we continue making changes to the way we think about waste, this post is as much a public commitment to stop us from getting lazy as it is a resource for others.
There are some truly amazing people out there who are incredibly dedicated to living and sharing the zero waste lifestyle. Some of my favourite zero waste bloggers are Lauren Singer from Trash is for Tossers, Erin from The Rouge Ginger and Bea Johnson from Zero Waste Home. There are so many great reasouces around the interwebs.
Our household is still definitely a work in progress, and I’m not putting pressure on achieving zero waste status any time soon, it’s a journey.
It really is so easy to be out of sight, out of mind. But it sure aint cool.