Zero waste gets easier

Zero waste can be hard. I’m lucky to have so many stores to choose from, and even then, it’s really hard (but it does get easier). Well done to everyone making that little extra effort, changing 5 mins of your day, or just being conscious of where to improve. You’re on a path to an eco-centric life. You’re doing great.

Showing ‘Past Zoe’ who’s boss by making do with what we’ve got.

Not only did ‘Past Zoe’ drink from plastic straws, but when she went to tropical destinations, she felt it was imperative to order a drink with an umbrella, maybe even a swizzle stick and a free tiki style cup. Ordering a cocktail instead of a beer made it “feel more like a tropical holiday”. We all change. It’s good for us.

We needed to upgrade our soap dish so we’ve now turned this coconut cup into the perfect soap dish for our shower. I think this transformation really shows ‘Past Zoe’ who’s boss.

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.

Zero-waste habit techniques

Check this out! I just found a list that @_jameslake and I made in January when we decided to overhaul our kitchen groceries and take this journey to #zerowaste together as a team. Instead of diving in head first, we created several lists that allowed incremental habits to form at their own pace. We split items into different lists:

– Bulk store
– Habit changes
– Make ourselves
– Try not to buy frequently
– Good stuff to buy and freeze

Throughout this journey, I’ve adopted habit forming techniques to adjust to zero waste. It’s a similar technique to building up an exercise regime from scratch – start tiny and build on that. This technique also avoids any chance of failure, forever boosting you up as you adjust to a new way of living.
I am amazed at how far we’ve come in such a small amount of time. It’s been less than a year!! Amazing! This is truly easier than it sounds, as long as you go easy on yourself, be realistic about what you can and can’t change and take it slow.

Less wasteful gift ideas

It might feel forever away, but now is a great time to float ideas about a less wasteful festive season, especially Christmas. There are loads of ways we could customise festive events while still staying true to our traditions and values. Discussing them now gives plenty of breathing room for everyone to consider a change and adjust accordingly.

I find gift giving is the hardest for my families to adjust to. Some ideas to consider:
– No physical gifts, just experiences
– One gift each: Secret Santa / Kris Kringle
– Only buy gifts for kids
– Set a plastic-free gift challenge
– Give donations instead of physical gifts
– Bring food, not gifts

If you could, what would you change about the festive season to be more environmentally conscious?

Ride to work

One of my all-time favourite ways to get around. At first, I was scared to ride with cars and trams. Now, I miss it if I don’t ride for a week

I grew up in a house where reusing and composting were the norm.

I grew up in a house where reusing and composting were the norm.

Being writers, my parents never had a steady income so it was important to hold on to what we had, just in case we needed it later. Apart from financial limitations, I think these principles are inherited in their generation as well. To put it bluntly, my parents are hoarders. I didn’t grow up with the concept of refusing: that’s where zero waste blew my mind.

I’m visiting my parents at the moment and they have about 18 pots and pans between the two of them. Every Chinese takeaway container is saved for later use, but now there are piles of it in the pantry. Garage sales and thrift stores are scoped for bargains. @aldiaustralia is a haven for cheap products and all their packaging is kept, just in case.

Every piece of fabric becomes a rag, a patchwork quilt or a curtain. Value is placed on potential value, rather than current needs. It’s fascinating and a little mad!
I’m just trying to respect their way of life and be as helpful as possible. But sometimes it’s fun to laugh at all the stuff they have.
They know they’re strange. I love them all the same

To Make & Phase Out

Making these lists was the very first step towards zero waste.

Inspired by @zerowastehome, I made two bathroom lists: To Make & Phase Out. Phase out means the product no longer exists in its current form. This could mean I’ve replaced with a reusable or just learnt to live without it.

This list has also helped me reduce what I do use, such as band-aids (I’ve used one this year) and cotton tips (which I tried to live without but eventually found compostable ones).
Looking at these lists brings a sense of pride in the progress we’ve made. I make so much stuff now.
My needs have changed too. In some cases, I’ve tried to make what I thought was an essential item (face scrub) and then realised we don’t need it at all. It’s easy to hoard bathroom products.
These lists are a great first step for zero waste beginners as it’s tailored to your needs and allows you to take baby steps.

Zero waste is all about habits, not morality

Last month, I helped the amazing @anakresina and @dominictaranto collect used disposable coffee cups from our office bins at @redbubble.

Like most offices, we have a bin at each pod of desks, plus the big ones in the kitchen. For one week, the three of us casually trawled through countless bins dotted around two floors of our Melbourne office, collecting as many cups as we could.

It’s been a great way to raise awareness. We’ve been super conscious not to make anyone feel bad – I am a firm believer that the point of zero waste is all about habits, not morality. In order to keep moving forward; education, inspiration and incremental habit-forming is key. The next step for this project is the inspiration piece and I can’t wait to show you what they have planned for these cups. They’re about to bloom into something very special.