As I mentioned in my previous post, I made a decision to pay some serious attention to the amount of waste I consume and send to landfill, and have been actively engaging in reducing the waste I produce since that time.
The first word that comes to mind when I think about how this lifestyle change has been so far, is fun.
Honestly, it’s been fun finding ways to cut down on trash. It’s been fun learning from people who have been on the zero waste band wagon for YEARS and have tips on tips on tips to share. It’s been fun watching people’s reactions when you ask for a drink without a straw (my brother told me I was annoying when I asked for his lemonade to come without a straw at dinner one night).
However, when I think more deeply about the changes I have made to my life to enable me to work toward producing no rubbish, I can see that on the surface, it may look challenging, time-consuming, annoying and inconvenient. For me, there have definitely been times where I have felt challenged, pressed for time, annoyed and inconvenienced, so I am going to share the benefits of going ‘zero waste.’
1. I eat better food!
I have started to buy my food without packaging. I buy fruit and vegetables from local grocery markets (and occasionally one of the duopolies – Coles and Woolworths), and I buy dry goods from bulk stores, or stores with bulk sections. I take my own jars and containers to the bulk store and refill my jars and containers with the foods I need. I have not bought meat in a long time, however it is possible to buy meat from the butcher without plastic by taking your own containers and asking the butcher to place the meat into your container. Some butchers are super obliging, but I’m just lazy and can’t be bothered with it!
Buying food without packaging usually means buying food that isn’t processed, high in refined sugar, packed with preservatives, or high in salt. This means more fruits, vegetables and whole foods! It also means making a lot of your own food, which is great because you know exactly what is going into the food you are consuming.
Not going to lie though, I slip up and buy take away burgers (my weakness) every now and then and I try to rationalise this to myself by telling myself they come packaged in cardboard, not plastic. This isn’t the best option, but I guess cardboard is better than plastic as you can compost it! I’m not perfect, and I don’t want people to think that’s how I see myself.
2. I save money.
Less packaged food means less buying take away food which means more preparing meals at home which means spending less on expensive af take away food! My fortnightly groceries cost me about $50. I’m not joking. I will say that I probably go out for dinner once or twice a week, but $50 will pay for all the other food I eat, and I don’t go hungry.
Avoiding plastic also means avoiding new clothing. Other than a pair of jeans and a cardigan (and my footy uniform and boots which I couldn’t get second hand), I have bought clothes from the op shop. Some op shops do not have the plastic tags attached to the clothing, plus by buying second hand, you are not adding to existing waste. This has been a HUGE challenge for me. I love clothes. I had a very bad habit of engaging in a bit of retail therapy when I was upset. This has been a massive change for me, but bank account sees the benefits.
I also spend SIGNIFICANTLY less money on cleaning products. Most cleaning products come in plastic, right? To avoid this, I have been using a home made citrus peel infused vinegar to clean almost every surface in my house. Lemons or oranges can be bought without packaging, and vinegar can be bought in a glass jar, or in bulk at the bulk store. I soak lemon or orange peel in white wine vinegar for a week, then decant into a spray bottle left over from a previous spray bottle – rinse and repeat.
3. I don’t have to take the rubbish out!
Like I said, I am one laaaaaaazy fucker. But now, I no longer have to take the rubbish out. In fact, I don’t even have a rubbish bin. I have a compost bin for my food scraps, which I give to the worms in my worm farm, and I have a woven basket for my recycling. Any rubbish I create, I put in a corner on the bench in the kitchen, or straight into the black bin outside.
This is the landfill waste I have created in July so far:
4. It’s better for the planet.
That’s a no brainer.
I will hopefully go into more depth about these topics in future posts but if you are interested, there are some ideas on my Instagram account @letsgetwasteless.
Some great blogs to check out (at least one million times better and more informative than my pathetic Instagram account) are Treading My Own Path, The Rogue Ginger, and Trash is For Tossers.