Small wins. Tiny landfill. Happy doggo.

Rethinking the way we do things has helped us reduce our landfill waste. Instead of monthly liquid flea treatments and all the plastic packaging that comes with it, we give Toki a chewable tablet that covers him for 3 months. It’s mostly packaged in cardboard with a bit of plastic. If given by the vet, it comes in a reusable zip lock bag which we can opt out of.

Small wins. Tiny landfill. Happy doggo.


Prioritise “nothing time” and let your brain juices flow

Drinking my coffee in the sun before another intense day at work. Working towards environmental conservation has made a martyr of me. I’m a busy-body. I work all day every day on three separate projects. It’s apt how unsustainable my routine is.

I tell myself that after a big launch in 4 weeks, I’ll claw my way back to a healthy routine. The reality is that this is me always. Working, working, working… What am I working for? Money, environmentalism, people; but mostly something self-fulfilling. I like working. It makes me feel helpful. It gives me purpose. It’s a habit. It’s an addiction.

I suck at self care. I am trying to take 5 mins everyday to do ultra-mega-boring things that are good for me. A little “nothing time” is great for busy people who need more brain space for creativity and processing. It’s not quite meditation and it’s not quite exercise. It’s deliberately dull and unappealing. Want to hear how boring I am? Here goes…

Hello my name is Zoe and I like to feel the wind in my hair, gentle walks in the bushland and:

  • Just standing there
  • Just sitting there
  • Listening to my heartbeat
  • Feeling my breath entering my nostrils
  • Staring out the window

Sounds dull huh? You’re probably too busy for this too, yeah? Wrong! Prioritise “nothing time” and let your brain juices flowwwww


Curling hair with rags

Raggedy hair! I experimented with offcuts of fabric to curl my hair. It worked! I’ll keep this in mind for special occasions but I‘m waaaay too lazy to do this regularly. Ferk dat. The result wasn’t too far from my natural curls, just a little more structured. Kinda reminded me of my NooNoo’s frizzy curly hair in the 1930s.

Rags and fabric scraps have many uses. I have repurposed cotton rags for cleaning, hair curlers, filters and gift wrap. If big enough, I sometime sew a seam to make my own handkerchief. My mum likes to make patchwork quilts and cushions from offcuts of fabric. Got any other uses for fabric scraps? I’d love to hear more.


Zero waste formal wear

Zero waste formal wear! I found this silk dress, silk shirt, suit jacket and suede boots second hand.

Dress codes make me comes to terms with my assigned gender. I dread the thought of having to wear a pretty cocktail dress. I feel pressure to buy a whole new outfit for weddings in the same circle of friends. My anxiety about attire has been so obvious that I’ve been warned to “conform to gender norms” for certain weddings. Ugh. It’s so much easier for cis dudes…

With practice and confidence, I have finally worked out how to dress up and still feel authentic. I love this simple silk dress, but I usually prefer to suit up for weddings. I love a suit because I can change the look by swapping the shirt. I even borrowed my friend’s tie for one occasion.

There’s a practical side to this. Wearing pants allows me to dance even more ridiculously than I already do. And that’s what newly-weds want at their wedding, right? A lively dance floor! I dance in a way that guarantees nobody else will feel like a fool if they let loose.

Not everything pictured here is second hand, ethical or zero waste. In contrast to my second hand silk and ethical bag, I’m wearing a fake leather jacket that is basically the epitome of fast fashion. I bought it on impulse 3 years ago. I rarely wear it. I’m not proud of it but I like it over a dress. I’ll hold onto it until I find someone I can pass it on to.

We don’t have to be perfect. Sometimes the best qualities are the desire for self improvement and the willingness to learn and grow… and of course, killer dance moves. Get those knees and elbows in the air.


Going zero waste is a behavioural change.

In order to change our behaviour, we need to be self-aware. We gotta be mindful. With mindfulness comes the ability to manage ourselves when external factors come into play.

Let’s make some observations on how sociology impacts the way we behave:

  • Respectful language. Observe the way we talk about the environmental crisis. Is it productive? Are there bouts of anxiety or strain? Is anyone saying “you should…” instead of “have you considered…”?
  • Accept hypocrisy. Are you a vegan cat-owner, a chain-smoking environmental activist or a road-tripping zero waster? Take note of your own imperfections and accept others. We need to reduce polarisation if we’re going to work together.
  • Mental barriers. Do convenience or peer pressure play a part in your behaviour? Do you worry about appearing a certain way? Are you organised? What factors make you less likely to change?
  • Bias. Observe and listen to how we interact, then flip the genders, race or status. Would these individuals get the same response from their peers if they were born differently? Take note of all forms of bias.

Whoah there! We’re nowhere near solutions yet. It’s lovely if you’re eager to jump to actions but it might be counterproductive. I struggle big time with this discipline. I want to brainstorm instead of reflect. Be patient. We’ll get to actions in part 2 of my OOPS principles of behavioural change.

Spoiler alert: We won’t rid the world of discrimination. We won’t achieve world peace. I’m smart but I ain’t THAT smart.


Observations about personal travel habits

Admitting is the first step. Or, to be precise, Mindfulness is 🙂 We need to know where we stand before we know where to step. This means we gotta stop, and just observe ourselves for a bit.

To kick this off, let’s look at our personal travel habits. These questions are intended to get the wheels in motion (pun intended) but it should be customised to your own unique situation/part of the world:

  • A long walk. If you have the luxury of mobility, what’s your perception of a long walk? 15 minute walk? Easy. 30 minute walk? Ugh, I’ll just drive… What’s your limit? Can you build on that?
  • Two wheels. Do you own a bike? Take it for a spin and see how it makes you feel. Do you get anxiety or feel like you’re flying? If it’s the latter, consider flying more 🙂
  • Car. Do you own a car? Does driving involve transporting others? Are you carrying heavy items? Is it a necessity, a luxury or potentially optional?
  • Uber, Taxi & Jet-setting. Look at your bank statement to understand the cost and frequency of these forms of travel. How reliant are you on these modes of transport?
  • Eating To Go. If eating or drinking out, take note of the types of disposable items required to support this. Are any items not essential / destined for immediate waste?
  • Other? Skateboard, scooter, truck, 4wd, horse, tuk tuk, camel… Got other examples of travel? I’d love to hear about it 🙂

Write down your observations and make the conscious decision to NOT change for the time being. Just continue to observe yourself as life happens. We’ll get to actions in part 2: Opportunity. For now, we observe.

Illustration by @_jameslake


Zero waste husband gets bananas all loose

Zero waste husband!! My partner does most of our grocery shopping and cooking while I tend to be a workaholic. That’s how it’s always been. When I first told him about my ambition of a zero waste lifestyle, he responded with support and apprehension. Given that he does so much around the house, I was worried he‘d get defensive if I suggested zero waste alternatives. I didn’t want to be making extra demands.

It was all good! We took this transition as an opportunity to learn something new. He asked a bunch of questions along the way and we researched and shared ideas together. We set standards like “the ZW solution must be as good as or better than the existing approach.” This helped us feel like everything was an upgrade. It also made us extra conscious when not being zero waste. Positive reinforcement and honest observations helped.

I’m so proud of how far he’s come. These are loose organic bananas he got from @terramadreorganics – just one detail in a huge fortnightly shop that was almost entirely plastic free and organic. He’s a pretty amazing human.


An environmentalist pet owner is an oxymoron

I am a domestic animal. I sleep in a bed inside a house. I have regulated meal times. I am well trained. I get anxiety. The council knows where I live. There is a system in place if I misbehave. I suppress my instincts. My population growth is out of control. There is a system for where my poo goes. I am not to allowed pee on everything.

I think an environmentalist pet owner is an oxymoron. Domestic animals create a major environmental impact in Australia. We are aware of our dog’s carbon footprint, meat-based dietary requirements, food/medical packaging and the native fauna that he terrorises or deters. We’re equally aware of the fur therapy, companionship, sense of purpose and mental wellbeing he gives us.

Our mental health is paramount. Early on, we assessed what aspects of our lives bring us joy. We decided not to change these things when going zero waste. Our dog, Toki, is here to stay. After this, we’ll probably get another dog. Let’s not be too hard on ourselves. Let’s just improve where we can with patience, forgiveness and mindfulness.

How we apply zero waste principles to our doggo:

  • Second hand / street find bed, toys and accessories.
  • Apply local context to meat consumption ie Kangaroo in Australia (we avoid beef/pig/lamb).
  • Reuse paper bags for poo and put the whole thing in the compost (we call this our ‘yucky’ compost which is not for growing food).
  • Favour toys that are indestructible such as Kong.
  • Put fur in compost after brushing/sweeping/vacuuming.
  • Package free peanut butter in a Kong toy for chew treats. – Use dog food pellets and bananas as training treats.
  • Share leftovers when it’s nutritionally beneficial.
  • Package free vegan ‘pigs ears’ for dental treats.
  • Favour 3 month worming/flea tablets over monthly skin treatment to avoid extra packaging.
  • Use package free dog wash.
  • Respect dog rules when bushwalking. – Manage/prevent breeding.
  • Invest in health / training.
  • Monitor closely or contain to our home.

Relax, embrace change and seek balance.

“Relax, embrace change and seek balance.” That’s what these tattoos mean to me. I drew them when I was 19 based on the lunar cycle and Buddhist wheel. The pretentious designer in me is conscious that they look very 2006 tattoo art – a small inky amulet 🙂 Design nerd aside, I really love being reminded of this mantra as I work, play and plan ahead. When both exposed, they trigger a desire to sit in lotus pose (cross legged meditation pose with palms up). Thankfully, teenage Zoe got a few things right.

I tend to get so excited about the future that I struggle to be present. This year, we’re planning some big lifestyle changes. As we work through decision-making, I will try to chill the fuck out, embrace the change to come and seek balance as much as possible. This mantra has helped throughout my zero waste transition too.


Our species is partly defined by our creativity.

There was a time when humans would dine and draw together. We’d share stories, impart wisdom and teach the ways of the world.

My partner and I have introduced a bit of drawing into our evenings. We don’t have kids (or wisdom to impart), so creative play is a habit we try to consciously adopt. No Tv is fine by me. Instead, we draw plans for the future, explain concepts or creepishly draw each other drawing!

I truly believe all humans are capable of drawing (…as well as singing and dancing). Our species is partly defined by our creativity. We might not be the best illustrators, but most of us can demonstrate concepts through mark-making. It’s a good practice to exercise our abilities in cognition, problem-solving and innovation. If you’re lucky enough to have full mobility and people to dine with, try a shared drawing session. Flex these muscles! For extra brownie points, use scrap paper and a pencil.

Check out this inspirational Aboriginal rock art in Kakadu. The first pic is a cave drawing above a sitting area. Some of these drawings are up to 20,000 years old.

Long live this beautiful tradition.

Oh, how I wish to live in a cave…