Use protection; Favour plastic-free native flowers sourced from sustainable farms; Teach and learn from each other on how to be better humans; Realise that linen, hemp, bamboo, pure silk and nudity are sexier than any lacy polyester nylon number; Love each other’s natural odour, fur and skin; Favour experiences over physical gifts or keepsakes; Cook together; Explore our homeland together and learn about the local context; Recognise opportunities for personal development; Set goals and support each other to achieve them; Extend compassion beyond our immediate relationships.
Finger print wedding rings by Brent & Jess via @etsy
I learned to celebrate the wins and not punish ourselves if we produce household trash. I learned to keep a close eye on waste collection services and know where my trash is going. I’m learning to stop and pick up rubbish in the street, and the power of community to work on bigger clean up projects.
Celebrate the wins
Take a moment and enjoy the feeling of not needing to take the bins out. Thank everybody in your home for their efforts. It’s not about perfection, it’s about incremental improvements and chances are you’re doing great.
For fear of being disappointed, I tried not to pay close attention to the landfill we generated. At 7 months, I finally estimated our rate of waste creation. I worked out that we would fill one landfill bin every 8 months, and one recycling bin every 5 weeks. Previously, it would take 2 weeks to fill both bins. Our household has 3 people and one dog. One of us is slightly more obsessed with zero waste than the others… Guess who!? If we were to stop making incremental improvements, this is the rate we’d be at. I think that’s pretty great! I thought it would take much longer to get to this stage. Plus, a lot of the waste we were still creating was from products we bought before my zero waste rampage. I love not needing to take the bins out…
Be aware of waste collection
Observe waste collection services and be aware of what happens to waste after it leaves the home. At work, plastic bin liners are a clue that recycling might not be sent to the right bin. Ask questions. Seek answers.
We recently found out that our waste collection service has been cutting corners by dumping recycling into their landfill trucks. It’s not all the time, but it’s still really messed up. We’ve put pressure on body corporate who are in the process of rectifying everything. The service provider will now lose their very big contract (over 200 dwellings… that’s a lot of wasted recycling!). Until now, I’d never thought to check how our bins are being collected. I put my trust in the fact that recycling goes to a recycling plant. Every area is a little bit different, so we’ve learnt our lesson to be aware of what happens to our waste after it leaves our home. Another positive from this is that we are even more committed to reducing our recycling waste.
Pick it up
When the time is right for you, try to pick up 3 items of rubbish. This small and mighty habit can prevent those items being washed down the gutter and into a waterway.
I’m learning to stop and pick up rubbish. Honestly, when I do it I feel a bit weird. I don’t want to appear forthright, pious or alienating to passers by. So, I try to be discreet when I do it. Apart from the looks I get (which are completely in my own head), I also feel a little overwhelmed by the task of picking up rubbish. There’s so much of it and so much being created at a business level. To encourage incremental habit-building, I’m going to just pick up 3 items max (thank to Take 3 for the inspiration).
Organise a trash party
If there’s an area that really gets you down, volunteer to clean it up. Tell others about it and invite them to join. One hour of cleaning between a small group of people can result in massive improvements on the ecosystem and community.
At the start of Plastic Free July, I set the goal of cleaning up a small part of the Merri Creek for one hour every Sunday of the month. If anyone else came along, it was a bonus – and what a bonus it was! With the help of friends, we filled 7 landfill bins (120L each). This is a big achievement for me, but it’s just another day for the legends at Friends of Merri Creek who have been tirelessly cleaning the creek for a long time now.
I have so much respect for people who do this kind of thing regularly, even at a small scale. It’s hard work! One hour of picking up rubbish made my back sore. The walk to the car carrying loads of rubbish made my arms dead (Exercise? What’s that!?). We found some seriously gross items in the creek including a crack pipe and loads of syringes. In one instance, I travelled interstate to get there on time and when I finally arrived, it rained heavily – yet we still managed to stick to the weekly goal. I sound like I’m complaining but I have truly loved every minute of it. This whole experience has created new memories from old junk.
How to slay the trash monster without losing your soul
You’re doing your best. Don’t beat yourself up if you produce household waste. Be aware of what happens to this waste after it leaves the home or office. Pick up 3 items of rubbish in the street. Consider organising a clean up project. Be realistic and take it at your own pace. Little efforts go a long way.
I learned that the ultimate zero waste approach to sex is not having kids. I realised that zero waste protection is often invasive. I reluctantly accept that condoms are ok because safe sex is paramount.
Not having kids
Population growth has slowed down since the 60s baby boom. But human impact on the environment is getting worse. Less humans means less environmental problems right?
I would make a great mum. I was 12 when I changed a nappy for the first time. I took great pride in my ability to calm my nieces and nephew and gently rock them to sleep. I love babysitting. I love watching a child’s personality shine through. When friends come to visit; I can cook a meal, entertain their child, and keep an eye on our dog all while socialising and enjoying a glass or three of wine.
My husband and I made the decision to not talk seriously about having kids until we were both 29. It was a handshake agreement that gave me permission to focus on being a twenty-something, binge drinking, full-time worker with a thirst for travel and live music. It’s only now that we’ve hit our 30s that we’re starting to feel a little foggy about what we want.
Protection is invasive
Zero waste protective sex has it’s downsides. Truly zero waste options are the birth control implant, Copper IUD or a Vasectomy.
Motivated by zero waste and health reasons, I decided to go off the birth control pill. I’d been on the pill for almost 15 years. That’s half my life and basically all of my adult life. My hormones are slowly starting to balance out again, but I’m left with a lack of options for the sexy time. How can we prevent getting pregnant without buying single-use plastic packaging or pumping our bodies full of hormones?
Bar in the arm? No way. I’m done with hormones.
Barbed wire in the snatch? There’s no way I’m putting a piece of metal in my taco. No thank you…
Get the snip? Sure! But that’s super invasive and doctors have tried to deter us because they believe we’re too young (we’re both 30).
Condoms are ok
If safe sex is paramount, then condoms are ok. A condom is the best protection against sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.
We see condoms as part of ‘medical’ plastics. We played it as safe as possible for as long as we could and then finally resorted to buying a fresh pack of love gloves. No glove, no love. Amiright?
How to think about the environment in a sexy way
Accept that the most environmentally-friendly approach to sex is not having kids. Consider package-free contraceptives but know that condoms and packaging are ok because safe sex is paramount. Stay true to your personal values. If you choose to make a tiny human, tell them about zero waste.
Even in the big city, I believe that zero waste has a high barrier of entry but this story has a happy ending.
To begin my journey, I spent some sweet dollaridoos on a moon cup, a safety razor, beeswax wraps and a new lunchbox. These items made a significant dent in my weekly budget. A year later, it’s worked out to be financially viable and I don’t need to buy these items again. I tried to not buy anything I wasn’t 100% sure I needed (here’s lookin at you: tongue scraper!). I had to be in it for the long haul with this kit.
Today, I’m fortunate to be able to eat local, organic, plastic-free wholefoods because the soil here is rich and a portion of my income is expendable. I buy organic nuts and grains entirely package free. It’s easier for me because there are bulk stores within walking distance. Compared to the packaged “dollar dazzlers” at major supermarket chains, I started spending a lot more on food… but then something else happened:
I no longer needed to buy beauty or cleaning products.
We didn’t need to buy bin liners, cling wrap, aluminium foil and zip lock bags.
We learnt how to buy and cook exactly what we need, how to store it and how to make use of scraps.
The bathroom cupboard needed little restocking because I was making my own or favouring multipurpose products.
I stopped buying goods brand new and learnt to repair instead of replace.
We sold items because we no longer had a use for them.
We started making more items from scratch like bread and tortillas, which worked out cheaper and more enjoyable.
I realised that major supermarket chains charge more for organic produce (beauty standards?) so we saved by going direct to farmer.
I have a feeling that organic food is why I’m not getting sick as often, so I’m not buying cold & flu medicine all the friggin time… that’s just a theory… I’ll probably get sick now that I’ve suggested that… *cough*
The steep curve eventually balances out. It gets better. It pays off. It’s worth it. But I ain’t gonna tell you it’s easy.
I may have a matchy matchy feed but “Instagram-worthy matching mason jars” and investing in “zero waste essentials” is the exact opposite of what we’re trying to achieve here. Zero waste is not about buying more stuff. Zero waste is about reducing our waste. Full stop. Times infinity. No take backsies.
I haven’t eaten cow, pig or lamb in almost 10 years. Plus, I’ve hardly eaten any meat in the last couple of months. I’m practically vegetarian. I listen to my body and it rewards me when I feed it an occasional piece of quality meat. I’ll aim to eat anything that has a neutral-positive effect on the Australian environment but I still have much to learn. My approach comes with naive hope that Australia will:
Favour consumption of over-populated pests;
Build up the population of native wildlife through consumer demand; and
Reduce meat consumption overall.
No more binge eating 3-4 types of meat from animals that can’t withstand drought. No more “throw another shrimp on the barbie” or highly televised lamb advertisements in the lead up to Australia day. No more “you don’t make friends with salad”. Respect, diversity and control.
Introduced species such as rabbit, camel and water buffalo are over-populated and problematic for our native wildlife. If they were a popular meat, maybe our native flora and fauna would be slightly better off?
Australia has a lush selection of edible plants and tasty native meats such as emu, wallaby, kangaroo and crocodile. Cruelty aside, if we were farming more natives, surely that’s a better use of agricultural land compared to cattle, pig and sheep farming? It could reduce soil salinity, irrigation and land clearing. Maybe the cattle farmers would maintain employment. Maybe more of our land can be focused on re-wilding initiatives and greater biodiversity.
Supporting any form of monoculture (cow, cotton, soy, etc) can have detrimental effects on the environment. I’m not saying this approach is perfect. It’s just another way to look at conscious consumerism. 🙃
For Aussies: Kangaroo steak can be found at @colessupermarkets and @woolworths_au in the ‘Game meat’ section. Occasionally, we can find rabbit, duck and camel too. These are NOT sold package free. Markets and boutique butchers sometimes have alternative meats where you could try to byo container (still working up the courage to do this myself).
I believe that purchasing alternative food is a vote in favour of diversity. 🐄🐖🐑🐓
“what a joke. hello, it’s not about you, and most people don’t care what you think. But whether you want to “judge” them or not, their actions and inactions have repercussions and victims. Most people aren’t doing their best nor what they can. They’re doing what’s comfortable, convenient and popular—that’s how we got into this mess in the first place. Duh. So tired of this lukewarm, pseudo-spiritual, using “namaste” as punctuation, Crowd-pleasing over Facts, bullshit.”
“Totally 🙃 I’m all about actions. Check the rest of my feed if you’d like some context. This is in response to the anxiety and paralysis created by how fucked the world is. If we’re going to move forward, we need to break the problems down into digestible chunks. And we need to work together. #namastemotherfuckers”
Did you get plastic for Christmas? I did! It’s ok. Some of us are early adopters, others need more time. We’re all in this together.
I now know that I can recycle this type of plastic. I am also super grateful as we will enjoy these yummy spice mixes in our cooking. It’s the thought that counts and this was a very kind gesture from lovely people who don’t know much about us. I particularly like that it’s perishable rather than giving us more ‘stuff’ in our home.
We successfully had two Christmas celebrations with minimal gift giving. One family had secret Santa, the other had gifts for kids only. In the past, we’ve driven home with a car full of stuff we don’t need.
Truly zero waste beauty requires zero products. This is me with no make up and no hair products. I haven’t straightened my fringe or shaved my pits. I think I look great, but why do I feel like this isn’t work-appropriate? It’s possible to fast track zero waste if you’re confident with your own natural beauty at all times. It’s the “at all times” part that I struggle with.
This is progress. Here is our grocery haul from the newly dubbed “anxiety inducing organic shop” @terramadreorganics. I love this store, but I wasn’t surprised that 80% of you answered ‘yes’ to feeling overwhelmed at bulk food stores in general. I get overwhelmed too.