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The Beginners Guide to Reducing Waste (Hot Tip: It Won’t Happen Overnight)

May 30, 2019

Beginners Guide to Reducing Waste & Changing your Mindset, Australia

Going zero waste sounds simple, don’t be a tosser.

Which means avoiding ‘tossing’ food scraps, recyclables & general waste into the bin that heads to landfill. But reducing your waste is a journey that involves minimising your impact as much as possible. It’s similar to a diet, if you go all in at the start it may be hard to stick to and become a stressful burden instead of an exciting accomplishment. Some zero wasters make the transitions in a week, others take years. It won’t happen overnight, but every little step makes a difference.

First Step: YOUR WHY

Why do you want to reduce your waste? This is important, you’ll need to refer back on it when the haters (the jealous kind that wish they were doing something as awesome as you) or self-doubt come to the party.

Here are a few ‘WHYS’ to get you started:

  • You care for the environment
  • You want to cut costs
  • You want to make the most of your purchases
  • You want to set a good example for your little ones
  • You or someone you love has had a health scare & you want to remove any form of toxins from your life

 Get where we’re going with this? 

Second Step: MINDSET

When you buy something, you are responsible for its entire life cycle.

It takes 5 seconds to follow this purchasing strategy that will save you time, money & unnecessary clutter. Before you buy something, ask the following question:

How will I dispose of this when I’m finished with it?

Now answer it in the next five seconds:

  1. Can I reuse it?
  2. Can I compost it?
  3. Can I recycle it?
  4. Is it difficult to recycle?
  5. Will it most likely end up in landfill?

If you answered yes to 4 or 5 place it back on the shelf and think about this: 

‘If I stop buying crap,

companies will stop making crap’ 

Third Step: PRIORITISE

Think about where you are most wasteful and prioritise this first. For example if you're like me and freak out without a water bottle by your side, than your first step should be to invest in a reusable water bottle.

Here's an easy and cheap step by step process of ways to reduce your waste, prioritise and aim to achieve one of them each day, week, month or year (whatever your pace may be):

1. AVOID SINGLE USE ITEMS & PHASE OUT PLASTIC

1 BILLION single use coffee cups are use in AUSTRALIA alone each year.
They are not recyclable.
That's 50 000 every HALF HOUR.

Source: ABC War on Waste

Sooo, swapping from single use to reusable items makes a massive impact on the amount of waste that heads to landfill (plus most places offer discounts for BYO cups!).

Here's a list of reusables and plastic free alternatives, pick the replacements you would use the most and start from there. Aim to find an alternative for a single use item each day, week or month (whatever your pace may be). 

Zero Starter Guide: 

Single use and plastic free swaps

  

2. LEARN HOW TO RECYCLE (PROPERLY) 

Why didn't we learn this in school? We were most likely too busy calculating logarithms.

There are seven different types of plastics and unfortunately, it's not always as 'easy' as it seems to recycle some of them. We are all well aware (hopefully) that we should use less plastic, yet the fact that it is embedded in so many everyday items and products can pose a challenge. 

Whilst you are phasing out all of your old plastic items it's important to know your plastic numbers and how to recycle them

If your future products require packaging, you should aim to find them in glass, cardboard or stainless steel, so if you don't plan on reusing them, recycling will be important here too. You can find more in depth information on plastic numbers, their risk of leaching toxic chemicals and recycling plastic, cardboard, glass and stainless steel on our blog 'What do the numbers on your products mean?'. 

Here are our top recycling tips:

1. Rinse to avoid contaminating the whole load, or don't bother

2. Separate all different kinds of material

3. Remove stickers and labels

3. If you can crush it and it returns to its original form throw it in the kerbside recycling

4. Take your soft plastics (plastic bags etc.) to the REDcycle bin at your local coles and woolies

5. Hit up your local TerraCycle drop off for plastic pump/spray lids and beauty products

3. USE WHAT YOU HAVE & BUY SECONDHAND 

If I’m looking around to purchase an item such as a mop, chair or table I always ask around first. You’d be surprised how many people have things lying around in their garage they want to throw away but don’t have the time or energy to. I didn’t purchase anything brand new in my home, I up-styled my kitchen table, drawers, bed, and we made coffee tables & tv cabinet out of pallettes from Bunnings! It’s such an easy and rewarding way to channel your creativity, I loved it. Facebook marketplace is also my best friend! 

Check out my babies below:

                   BEFORE                                               AFTER

Recycling Furniture Before Shot          Recycling Furniture After Shot

                 BEFORE                                                   AFTER

Recycled Furniture Before Shot           Recycling furniture After shot

                           AFTER 

Palette Furniture

4. MAKE YOUR OWN PRODUCTS

Most cleaning products are packed in plastic, make your own and store them in jars or glass spray bottles. Check out our blog '5 easy ways to use Soapberries & Essential Oils for cleaning'.

I make loads of spaghetti Bolognese so if you ever want an old tomato jar, hit me up!

DIY Natural Dish wash soap

5. SEE WHAT THE COMMUNITY HAS TO OFFER 

We're lucky enough to have the Source Bulk Foods, local fruit shops, farmers markets and clothes swaps etc. We get our organic fruit and veg delivered from Shambhala Farm every Saturday. Affordable and convenient for full-time workers & busy mums! 

6. COMPOST & GROW YOUR OWN

Get yourself a compost bin or worm farm and grow your own veggies! Live in an apartment? That's ok, check out these planter boxes that make growing nutritious goodies super easy, we leave them outside our office.

Planter boxes for Apartments     Planter Box for an Apartment

 

Remember: Reduce, reuse, reuse, reuse, refuse, & recycle! 

Send us photos of you doing the above for a 10% discount in store! We would love to share our zero heroes with the community and will support you 100% of the way. You've got this! ♡. 

If you have any questions, feel free to email us at askusanything@goforzero.com.au

Thank you for making the earth a better place xx 


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