Zero waste is an ideology, not an absolute

This is a message for my friends & lovers and for anyone that feels overwhelmed instead of inspired: I am not zero waste. No one is. I have only *reduced* my waste. Zero waste is an ideology, not an absolute. I am a climate change optimist but I still forget to say “no straw”. I still get uber eats when I’m too darn exhausted to cook or think. I still shop at @colessupermarkets when I can’t keep up with the level of organisation required to go to a package free shop. I still drink beer in cans and bottles because it makes me happy. I still eat burgers and fast food because friends come before ideologies. I still sneak some free food at work that is wrapped in plastic because I’m lazy. I still haven’t transitioned to plastic-free meat and dairy because it’s really really hard. I sometimes see rubbish on the ground and begrudgingly walk by. I still waste uneaten food because I’m a tiny human and servings are often way too much for me.
It’s been easy to feel overwhelmed. I need to remind myself that even with all these zero waste fails. I’ve reduced my waste significantly. I want you to feel inspired, rather than overwhelmed. Some people choose to focus on being ethical, vegan or humanitarian and this just happens to be my area of focus.If you’d like to also focus on zero waste, my advice is this: Change 5 mins of your regular day to zero waste. Take away coffee? Brushing your teeth? Travel? Change one thing, and settle with that until it feels normal. Then change another teeny tiny thing… Better yet, tell me about these tiny changes so we can celebrate them together.

Nobody should ever feel guilty about being brought up in a world where waste is normal. It’s not our fault and we can’t be expected to change without support from the wider community. You’re doing the best you can.

Big love, from little Z.


Reusable bamboo straws

I bought these reusable bamboo straws from @lifeofuscha because they are pretty, affordable and entirely package free. It’s been 4 weeks and I haven’t had a use for them yet. While I’m happy with these as an alternative to plastic, I’ve gotta say – reusable straws are a totally pointless item for me to own. It’s strange how there’s so much banter about this being a “zero waste essential”. They’re not. Just drink without a straw. Just sip. Don’t suck.

The main purpose I see for individuals owning these is for take away juice/smoothies, for fancy fun cocktails, and for kids.

But why we gotta buy them ourselves? Imagine if we didn’t need to remember to say “no straw”. Imagine if we didn’t need to pack a straw and clean it ourselves. I’d love every cocktail and juice bar to purchase these beautiful straws. Hey @jacobystikibar@junglejuicebar and @unclerestaurants, I’m a big fan. Reckon I can convince you to go plastic-free on your beautiful cocktails and juices? I totally understand that this isn’t something that can happen overnight, and the cleaning aspect isn’t fun, but I’d love you to consider it. Sincerely, your friend Zoe who is trying not to suck!


Reusable food court cutlery

I got served. Thank you @emporiummelbourne for a food court system that enables so many restaurants to go #zerowaste. Not only is it an environmentally friendly approach, but it also makes it easier to eat! Funny that reusable cutlery can make a meal seem so luxuriously gourmet. Thank you for serving us dinnerware realness.


Reduce,re-use,recycle

After trash party, I started seeing @cocacola products littering the streets. There isn’t more trash than usual – My perception has just changed. My eyes have started to hunt for trash. I’ve picked up so many coke cans that I now cringe when I see it’s packaging.

I am somewhat of a hypocrite. I cringe at coke cans but I probably consume more boutique beer than your average @cocacola drinker. It’s the same thing. I don’t think twice when I buy beer. To me, it’s an essential lifestyle choice, like a great bottle of wine, or a gooey (plastic-free) cheese.

Recycling is still a thing in our household. We have significantly reduced it by bringing our own containers, making our own beer and reusing/donating jars and bottles for food storage. It’s now taking roughly 6 weeks to fill the recycling bin when it used to take 2. I’d love to reduce this further.

 


Composting

Our compost bin is bigger than our landfill bin. We keep it on the kitchen bench so it’s front of mind and easy to access. I made it out of a metal tub I found and the lid of an old pot. Essentially, it just needs to be leak proof and have a hole on top to breathe. Our tiny landfill bin is hidden in the laundry cupboard next to the kitchen (out of sight, out of mind).

I have two compost systems, both found on the side of the road:

1) Outdoor flip top bin: It takes all organic matter: food scraps, paper, wood, hair, fabric, etc. This sits in our tiny 20 square metre backyard.

2) Indoor Worm farm: We keep our worm farm in the garage. I feed it sporadically to prevent over-feeding. Worm farms don’t like animal products, onions/bulbs and citrus, so I tend to save the really special compost for them: egg shells, banana peels, avocado, coffee grounds.

This whole process reduces landfill waste and the worm farm ensures I have excellent soil for potting plants.


Zero waste at work can be challenging

Zero waste at work can be challenging. I am a UX designer whose life is run by innovative ideas and a never-ending to-do list. For someone who designs digital products, it’s ironic that paper is not safe around me. I used to fill a sketchbook in a month with wireframes, ideas and checklists. While conducting research, I’d go through stacks of @postit notes. On top of that, I design in the open – which means, I print out concepts and stick them on the wall for others to offer input and ideas. I love being organised, collaborative and working across multiple projects, but the plastic covered sketchbooks and an enormous amount of paper usage made me reconsider my approach. I now use a clipboard with scrap paper for ideation. This is my notebook at meetings and my go-to during a brainstorm. New apps like @invisionapp, zeplin and @trelloapp have allowed me to digitise collaboration where possible. I print way less than before. I am also happy that anything printed will be used for scrap paper later on. I now keep my personal checklist on @trelloapp so I can stay organised. I do still use a lot of @postit notes but I’m getting better. This clipboard is roughly $3 from @officeworksand it has totally transformed the way I work. Next up, I’m planning to switch from @sharpie to pencils.


2 people. 1 hour. 6 bags of trash.

2 people. 1 hour. 6 bags of trash.

Thank you @_jameslake for making this a trash party. While ducks quacked and cyclists called out nice things, we found plastic bags, @cocacola @jimbeamofficial@venergydrinkaustralia and beer cans, an empty bottle of Passion Pop, a shoe, a NSW licence plate, a styrofoam box, a large piece of soundproofing foam, a nappy, countless chocolate bar wrappers, chips packets, a pack of @johnsonsbaby baby wipes, a VHS, bottle tops, @mcdonalds cups, sunglasses, a never-ending amount of plastic straws and a whole lot of plastic bottles from @evianwater @mountfranklin and @colessupermarkets. Why do we still buy water in plastic bottles!? How is that acceptable?! So many things are destined for trash… Thank you to everybody that helped with #trashparty. I will certainly do it again, just going to have a little break. Looking at the area, I’m so proud of what we’ve all achieved together in only 5 weeks. Roughly 7 x 120L landfill bins all up!! You guys rock! @annie_walter @_jameslake@ameerkat_47 @_michaelacatherine@suey_g @kalaharihel @hoppingtonpost plus those I don’t have on Insta. What a great ending to @plasticfreejuly


Better packaging options

If I had my way, @invisiblezincau would be sold in a small glass container (100% plastic free) that I could return to them for reuse. It is an amazing product but it comes in a whole mess of plastic packaging. This is a company that has sound moral and ethical standards, its vegan and the product itself goes on smooth and lasts all day. I want to be able to support them but the packaging lets it down. It’s been hard to find an alternative. I’m currently using @sun.and.earth.zinc which is made from coconut oil and shea butter and comes in a reusable tin. It’s rock hard in winter and the mix is slightly inconsistent and clumpy on application. But otherwise, it’s a fair substitute for invisible zinc. I truly hope established brands are hearing our call for better packaging options