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Buying into #zerowaste

So you’ve decided to quit your wasteless ways and are now a reformed consumer. So what’s the first thing you do? Is it to buy a whole lot of expensive #zerowaste items like KeepCups, Tiffens, produce bags and more? Is it to rid your life of every bit of plastic in the house?

 

If you answered yes to either of those questions, here’s something to think about. The past has already happened. You bought an endless amount of plastic containers back in the day and you still have a cupboard full of cleaning spray bottles. Whilst it might spark much joy to throw out every item that doesn’t fit with your new reformed waste-less life, it is ironically quite wasteful. In our house, we have continued to use items in as many creative ways as possible, doing our best to extend their lives. As we’ve used up chemical spray-and-wipe’s we’ve refilled the bottles with our own homemade cleaners. Only when an item breaks or is unsafe to continue using (chemical reasons) do we look to replace it with a more sustainable choice.

It is this deliberate choice that has prevented us from wasting a lot of money on expensive eco items. It has also given us time to consider what we want in each of our items. For example, as our last plastic drink bottles broke/became leaky I had the time to choose exactly the right glass water bottle I wanted. One that fit perfectly in my handbag, was leak-proof and had an aesthetic appeal that gets many people asking me about it. Any piece that can start a conversation is great.

It’s also worth seeing what items you already have that can do double duty. My fiance’s grandparents bought us a beautiful set of six double walled latte glasses for Christmas three years ago. One day two years ago I began carrying one with me everywhere as my new “takeaway” cup. Again, it’s been a great conversation starter having a quirky glass cup, there’s no plastic taste and it saves disposable coffee cups from landfill. Being double walled it doesn’t burn my hands, and in two years I’ve only broken two glasses. It rarely spills, the only real downside being occasional spills in my bag. That was solved by procuring a KeepCup lid that fits perfectly on the top. I’ve also heard those silicone wrist bands for every cause could make a great heat band around the cup. Any time I’ve forgotten my glass at work, a mug from the office kitchen served the same purpose.

On the downside, I’ve now moved house three times with a broken hairdryer whilst I think of the best way to dispose of it ethically and sustainably. Any ideas? I’d love to hear them! Especially if you’ve been using creative ways to reuse plastic items.

 

 

 

Thrifty fashion

Fast Fashion is evil. We know it. We know things don’t last as long as they did in our parents or grandparents generation. It’s cheaper to buy something new then to pay a tailor to mend it. A sad state of affairs all round. For me, I’ve done my best to combat fashion waste by a two pronged approach.

  1. Shop secondhand wherever possible
  2. Buy new from sustainable businesses displaying the practices I want to see

Neither of these are perfect but overall I’ve felt much better since stopping the shopping trips to Bourke street or huge shopping centres. I always felt a little sick seeing people weighed down with plastic shopping bags and spending big on fashion hauls only to bin or donate it in a few months. About 18 months ago ago was my last big spend up – I suddenly had a new job as a business journalist and felt pressured to buy some new pieces to prepare myself for the office. Clothes, shoes, and makeup all over a two day period. Even before that I was slowly getting into op shopping and thrifting, as my gumtree and eBay addiction was inching along. I felt ill bringing home around 10 plastic branded bags from different conglomerate stores. I still have all of the pieces and several are regulars in my capsule wardrobes, when I adhere to Project 333, with 2 being complete fail pieces I’ve since sold on my local BSS Facebook group.

I’m still feeling torn about postal packaging that comes with vintage and second hand online finds – and at the moment I try to recycle whatever I can, and pickup local items wherever possible.

I still buy socks, underwear, bathers and some shoes and some sports wear new.

My favourite places to source clothes: Vinnies, local op shops, BSS groups on Facebook, Gumtree, eBay, bartering Facebook groups, friends and family.

Businesses I love:

  • Lululemon (eco, less washing),
  • Boody (bamboo sustainable, recycled packaging, Australian),
  • Dharma Bum (eco, fair trade, Australian),
  • Lush (naked or recycled packaging)

A Waste-less routine

So much of wasting less comes down to routine. It’s about being organised, building habits and getting the people around you more familiar to your wacky green ways. My routine has definitely slipped a little lately, but is essentially made up of a few small changes to daily life to decrease waste.

The latte glass

Most friends are used to seeing me with a double walled latte glass at every caffeine opportunity. The upside? Saving disposable cups clogging up landfill and the taste is much better than sipping from a plastic lid. The downside? Remembering to wash and rinse out my glass after each use and the occasional drops of spilt coffee in my bag. Overall, it was simply changing my thought process in the morning to add “grab cup” to my normal morning routine. Now it’s “phone, keys, Myki, wallet, scarf, drink bottle, latte glass”.

The lunch kit

My wonderful fiance – the Chippy –  bought me a set of cutlery that I keep in my handbag, along with a handkerchief, metal straw all in a calico drawstring bag I sewed up. This kit has saved me from disposable things – although I often have to remember to politely refuse the automatic handover of disposables. I’m still struggling with bars/restaurants that automatically drop a plastic straw in my glass. Why does everyone assume women can’t sip from a glass?

 

The spare handkerchief 

I have an endless supply of white handkerchiefs monogrammed with the days of the week. I’m not an overly organised person, despite my best intentions, so the days almost never match up. But this handkerchief comes in awfully handy for numerous things – sneezes, spills, small cuts, as a serviette, to wrap up fruit peel before I can bring it home to compost – the uses are endless!

 

A reusable bag

This one is the hardest for me to maintain, but I’m working on it daily. Keeping a cotton bag or drawstring bag in my handbag is obviously a great chance to avoid the plastic bag. I’m frequently failing, but each day is a new chance to try and do better.

 

These aren’t all the things I do, but they’re definitely on my daily list. I’m planning on creating an area that will contain all the tips I’ve picked up along the way. Which can be surprisingly a lot. I often forget how many random thing the Chippy and I now do that seems so normal for us. Looking forward to sharing.

– R