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Wasteless dilemma: New job

Living waste-less comes with all kinds of challenges. Recently I came across one of the trickier challenges – needing to make a first impression. I recently had to spend a few weeks at a TV station where look matters A LOT.

The solution? Well it wasn’t perfect but I compiled whatever I could from my existing wardrobe, realising I needed mostly tops, maybe one pair of sandals and ideally some tailored pants. I hit up my local Red Cross store and paid a fairly exorbitant amount (by op shop standards!) for several tops, a dress and some tailored shorts. I wasn’t able to find any tailored pants in my size, but I did get lucky with pieces from labels like Country Road, Zara and some classic staple pieces I’ll keep. I also had some luck getting a pair of black and white scrappy heels from my local BSS Facebook group that perfectly matched a skirt I already owned.

I wasn’t the most cutting edge person on TV, but I did manage to pull together two weeks of looks for about $72. I also scooped up a long-line vest from my local Vinnies for $8.

To try and off set the extra clothing items coming in, I’ve gone through and had another cull. Anything that doesn’t fit well or doesn’t match majority of my wardrobe is in a bag to return to Red Cross. At the end of the month, I will thank each item that served me well during the month, and those that won’t get worn in my daily life will be heading straight back to the Red Cross. Letting go of items is really hard for me. I’ve been brought up in a waste not, want not mantra household. This has made me something of a hoarder. It does not serve me well to hold onto ill-fitting clothes. Giving someone else the opportunity to gain value from these items makes donating all the more worthy.

I also made a point of asking the volunteers at my local Red Cross and Vinnies what items they are particularly looking for. It’s pointless donating bulky coats coming into Summer. Op Shops simply don’t have the space to store out of season items. I also try to get rid of items directly to a new home. By this I mean selling/donating items via my local BSS, gumtree, eBay or Facebook Marketplace. Often I advertise the items so proceeds go to a favourite charity. This makes both me and the buyer feel good. It also raises awareness of the charity and it gives me back much needed space. And it keeps things out of landfill. Now that’s a waste-less approach.

 

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Entertaining

Here’s a list of handy hits for reducing waste when entertaining.

Cling Wrap: swap out cling wrap by using an alternative like Beeswax wraps or simply use a plate as a lid.

Cutlery: use stainless steel and wash them up. Or use bamboo which can be composted.

Plates: if you have to use disposable plates look for paper ones. They can be cut up and placed in the compost when you’re party is over.

October: Buy Nothing New Month

This October take your waste-less living to another level and take part in Buy Nothing New Month.

It’s a pretty simple concept that started here in Melbourne. The rules are easy. For one month, think about your purchases and ask yourself the following:

“Do I really need it?”

If you do, then:

“Can I get it second-hand or borrow from a friend/neighbour/family member?”

“How long will I use it for and what will happen to it afterwards?”

Best of all, this challenge is LEGITIMATELY free. You’re not buying anything new. You might find out you love it.

In fact, over the past 2.5 years, I’ve rarely gone shopping or bought anything new, excepting of course food, hair/skin products.

These are pretty much the only things I’ve bought new since 2015:

  • Underwear
  • Shoes (long-lasting sustainably made that will last YEARS, although most of my shoes are second hand)
  • Socks
  • Pajamas
  • Gifts (I do try to source gifts second hand but it’s not always possible/accepted by the gift recievers)
  • Occasional statement piece of clothing (again 95% of my wardrobe is thrifted but sometimes I cave when I need a piece quickly and don’t have time to source through op shops/marketplace/gumtree/carousel/ebay etc)
  • Seed and Sprout lunchbox
  • Mason Pearson Hairbrush
  • A baltic amber necklace

 

Most of my home is furnished with second hand finds. Our voracious appetite for things is fuelling this market where you can get essentially new items second hand. There’s been occasional extra items I’ve purchased to fill a specific urgent need like a few storage boxes for moving when I couldn’t source enough second hand in the limited time frame we had. Honestly it’s not hard and is a little addictive trying to find fabulous pieces at a fraction of the price. Like my $3000 coffee machine I picked up for $340! I must write a post about that sometime…

So what are the rules of Buy Nothing New month?

Basically you need to make a pledge to buy nothing new this October. The exceptions are: Food, Drinks, Medications, Hygiene Products. For everything else you can borrow, barter, swap, or buy second hand.

I’ve taken the pledge. You can too. Click here to pledge. Happy Saving!

 

Straws suck

Straws suck. Literally. They’re filling our oceans, they’re not reusable or biodegradable. They also make your very expensive cocktail taste like plastic. They suck.

Say no to straws!

Something I notice a lot when out and about in Melbourne is how often straws end up in our drinks. Particularly as a woman, it seems like I couldn’t possibly drink without the help of a plastic straw. Is it to avoid smudging our lipstick? Is it just so ingrained into a bartenders routine that it becomes automatic?

Regardless, after watching a movie on Sunday afternoon (with my stainless steel drink bottle) we headed to Melbourne bar Ponyfish Island for a drink. We had a few minutes to decide what to grab and noticing the straws on the bar I finally thought to try out my casual “no straw” request.

“What can I get you?” asked the bartender.

“Can I please have a G&T – no straw, thanks,” I smiled up at the bartender.

“Sure thing,” she smiled back. “Also props on asking for no straw they’re so bad,” she said.

This was pretty much the greatest response I could ask for. We then had a short fun chat about how crap plastic straws are and the frustration of ordering stainless steel ones online – only for them to arrive wrapped in plastic!

My friends found it a little hilarious how much we were laughing and gossiping about straws, but ultimately we bonded, the bartender might think twice before putting in a straw, leaving it to the customer to add one, and even anyone overhearing might think twice about using them.

It might feel kind of nerve wracking but it’s really just getting into the habit of simply asking BEFORE that dreaded BPA non-biodegradable plastic straw ends up in your lovely G&T. It’s my new mantra when lining up at any bar – whether it’s a booze or juice one. Try it.

 

 

Friday fails

Sometimes we fail. More than sometimes. When trying to live a life where you waste less, especially in a world where plastic is EVERYWHERE, fails are going to happen.

Every week (well, almost) I’m going to write about a few different fails that have happened the week before. There’s a few different types of ‘fails’, like the accidental kind that just happen from miscommunication or other people not understanding your waste-less mission. There’s also the unorganised kind of fail. The kind that could’ve been avoided with better planning. I’m going to try and document each type of fail as it happens each week and try to come up with a solution to fix it next time. So here it goes!

The accidental fail

Asked for water and before I knew it a bartender cracked open a plastic water bottle and passed it over, even though there was a jug of water sitting on the bar.
The fix? Will be specific about asking for a GLASS of water.

Likewise ordering an iced coffee in a cafe to “have in” but it turned up in a plastic single use cup with a lid and a straw 😦 The fix? Asking when I order if it comes in a reusable cup and if I can use my own straw.

 

The unorganised fail

Getting stuck at the checkout and realising I don’t have a green bag. Reluctantly stuffed everything into a single plastic bag, which I’ve reused as a bin liner. The fix? Trying to double check I’ve returned my reusable bags to my handbag once I’ve unloaded it at home after each shop.