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.
Here is our step by step guide for easy and affordable ways to reduce your waste, save you money and change your mindset!
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:
Can I reuse it?
Can I compost it?
Can I recycle it?
Is it difficult to recycle?
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!).
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.
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 (we're a local drop off point, see what you can recycle here!)
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!
I make loads of spaghetti Bolognese so if you ever want an old tomato jar, hit me up!
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 our urban composters and these planter boxes that make composting and growing nutritious goodies in small spaces super easy.