No Spend Month Challenge

I started a no spend month on 15 August 2018. So far I have not spend on anything but food (from market), petrol and rent.

The idea of this challenge is to make a month without spending on wants or non-essentials and see how much you can save or how much you can achieve by not spending. My goal is to practice and prepare for a No Spend Year.

I have been practising a minimal waste, frugal lifestyle and non-consumer mindset for a while now and if you are a subscriber you probably are following my journey for one of these themes. But these are more than themes for me, they are my lifestyle now and everyday I grow much more comfortable with them.

I have to admit, the first day I told my hubby that I want to do a No Spend Month (NSM), he was supportive but it seemed like the whole universe is trying to stop me as things start manifesting themselves as necessary and ads were popping up in front of my eyes. Everyone was trying to derail me from my goal but I persevered and kept thinking about the end, the goal, the bigger picture and my long term plan.

Moreover, NSM is about learning that there are other ways to do things. There are many ways to have fun and entertain yourselves and your kids than buying your way through to activities and places. You can try free events and activities. We went to Melbourne Museum, parks, NGV, went for a walk or visited friends. We tried to avoid eating out or left it for special occasions instead of every other night or all weekends. We tried to get creative and make things at home and keep ourselves entertained.

NSM also make you spend more time with your loved ones. They are there and chances are either they are free (I mean their time ;)) or they are doing something that requires spending money. So you can both avoid spending by just hanging out and having a cuppa tea 🙂

I work in University of Melbourne (UoM) and we love Acronyms in the UoM, so if I keep using NSM it is just a habit, believe me, I am not trying to start a trend.

I still have good portion of the month ahead of me but I hope I stay positive, inspired and motivated to see this through. On top of NSM, I am keeping at my usual reduction routine, chucking things out (donation), giving away to friends and colleagues or selling what I can. Even though, according to the removalist in our last move, we don’t own much, I feel we can live with much less so reduction help me to get the amount of things in our life down and NSM help me to make sure I don’t bring any more in 🙂 Match made in heaven, isn’t it?

What do you thin about NSM, do you want to join me in this journey and we keep each other motivated 🙂 I send you positive energy to start your journey 🙂

Zero Waste Long Haul Flight with a Toddler

So we just came back from an overseas travel and this was the first time flying with a toddler. The last 20 times we flew with our daughter, she was technically an infant and infants sleep a lot so she was mostly sleep or busy breastfeeding. This time she was MOBILE. Walking up and down the aisle in between half sleep travellers and movie watchers. We on the other hand wanted to sleep, and we wanted her to sleep even more but who says we get any choice in here.

When we got out of each of the four planes we travelled on this time, we looked beat, tired, sleep deprived while cursing ourselves for our choice of travel destination. We didn’t look anything like those parents in Youtube channels promoting travelling with toddlers. However,  when I look back at the experience, I realise that we did have some strategies that made our lives a bit easier .

First of those strategies: being prepared in terms of food, snack and milk. Our daughter likes milk_ leche (in Spanish) sheer (in Persian)_ more than anything. She calls it agua, which is water in Spanish 😀 So we went out of the house ready for our first long haul flight with a thermosteel full of milk and a small box of milk for the next leg. We gave her doses of 150-200 ml that ensured we will have enough till the end of our trip and also she’ll stay satisfy at each take.

Second strategy: being prepared with toys and activities. We prepared ourselves quite a few weeks before travelling and bough few inexpensive and new toys that we though will keep her occupied for an hour or so. Some of those were hits and some were misses but overall it was better than not having any specially as she is not interested in cartoons as of yet. These activity bags, or busy bags as some might call it, were life saver in the airport where our flights were super delayed and she ended up playing with them with other kids that made their tired and frustrated parents quite relieved.

Third strategy: this is technically more related to me but I invested in two travel dresses this time (it was in January that I bought them though) that served me quite well. They are nice and pretty and good quality but more importantly they get washed, dried no wrinkle quite quickly and I can wear them 20 different ways. So this hack freed quite a lot of space in our luggage for the baby stuff that made her quite comfortable throughout the trip. Let me know if you want me to write more about these dresses that are my only travel dresses from now on.

We are planning our next trip soon and we’ll be sure to employ all of these strategies and maybe some more for our next ones.

Let me know what are your strategies for travelling zero waste with a toddler or a child in general.

 

Step 4. Remake or repurpose

This is the fourth and in my opinion the last step of zero waste lifestyle principles. But in reality we have to include the recycling as the last step. Even though recycling is a lazy way of being environmentally friendly, it still is one of the only ways for some essentials. More on that in Step 5.

Ok let’s get into the fourth step then. This step is all about using your skills or developing new skills, recruiting friends and family to create new stuff from things that you already have or things that you consumed but left behind packaging, left overs and so on.

What do I mean? So instead of chucking anything out, including chucking into recycling bin, keep it and think of a purpose to use it or another way of utilizing it in your life that doesn’t clutter your life but repalce the thing that you might need to buy instead.

For example, instead of chucking the milk cart out into recycling, keep it and make a watering can for your garden or use it as self bidet for your bathroom.

Or instead of donating low quality clothing to charity shops, keep them and make rags or toilet unpapers that go well with your hand held self bidet.

I have to mention that low quality donated stuff get tossed into landfill by charity shops (or op shops). In this fast fashion day and age, people think that it is cheap, I buy it and wear it once and then donate it so those less fortunate than me can enjoy it further. WRONG!!! First of all thanks to cheap clothing and power of credit, the middle class abundance and consumerist culture, most people are doing what you do and the mountain of clothing that get tossed away in this way is mind bugling.

Second, those shopping in op shop are looking for something of quality and not something that they have to toss in a week as they don’t have access to unlimited credit like the middle class.

Hence, op shops have to cut they loss and get rid of the stuff that won’t get sold from the beginning not wasting their valuable and limited time and resources on sorting, cleaning, presenting and storing/shelving them.

 

Plastic Free July is upon us

It is almost July and plastic free july is a challenge some of us has pledged for.

“Imagine a world without plastic waste. That’s our mission – to build a global movement that dramatically reduces plastic use and improves recycling, worldwide.

​Will you join us and give up single-use plastic this July?”

This started in 2011 and now is in 150 countries, which is impressive. The idea is to get rid of disposable, go reusable and never look back.

I have also pledged but it is probably easier for us than some as we have been doing almost all the actions already for some time. Here are the things we do and it will also be counted for Plastic Free July 🙂

  1. No Bottled water: We religiously have been staying away from bottled water. First because it is unnecessary in most cases where you have access to clean water and can fill up a bottle, a cup or even use your hands to drink. I can argue any bacteria in your hand is far more benign than those in the bottled water. Second, the exact bacteria we talked about and many more toxins. I was just in an event with a scientist and he confided in me that any plastic out there is non-BPA Free (or it has BPA) and hence when warmed, i.e. under the sun or in a microwave will release all the toxins in it to the food it is containing and these toxins are not made for human consumption. Even BPA Free plastics are dangerous when put in a microwave so we started avoiding warming up anything in a plastic container in microwave. Back to the original point, there is no good reason to use bottled water, if you are in a place with no water, not even a dirty body of water that you can use personal filtering tools like those people use in camping, then maybe but except this extreme case your day to day life should be bottled water free 🙂
  2. Plastic bags: only convenient and the sheer number of plastic bags around us might entice you to use one as they are no good for anything. They can replaced with reusable bag for any usage so why not switch now. In Australia, the two big supermarkets finally pulled the plug on the soft plastic bags at the check outs but they still use them for online shopping and the grocery section which is either hypocritical or one could say one step at a time. Either way, at least something has been done. I even go further and try to divert already used plastic bags, banners, posters and so on from landfill by turning them into big reusable shopping bags.
  3. Plastic cutlery: this is hard to avoid unless you are carrying your own cutlery which is super easy and  cool as you can get the cutest cutlery and holders for your bag with cute shapes and colours. I got one for my now 17 month old daughter but have been using it myself ever since 😀 it has also extra space so I put extra/back up for us when we go out. I have to admit in this category, the wooden chopsticks that are not plastic are as much prolific so try avoiding those too.
  4. Cups/Coffee Cups: Thanks to KeepCup and FrankGreen these reusable coffee cups are fashionable now so more people use them but still a lot of people around me use disposable every now and then. I tend to sit in the coffee shop and drink my coffee when I dont have my reusable with me, have to note, you dont need KeepCup or any fancy pants cup, just a mug can work well.
  5. Straws: have to admit this one is not on my radar. First, I dont use straws ,just drink from a cup or bottle or glass. Second, I dont go clubbing so I never get a drink that needs straw anyway, so it might be easy for me to toss the disposable for good but not for some one that has straws in thei life. You tell me. Anyhow, there are reusable stainless steel straws in the market now that people include them int heir cutlery set, that could be for you is straws are big in your life.

Step 5. Recycle, only if you have to!

So I introduced the 5R method back in My journey to zero waste living.

And I have been going through the steps one by one, explaining each step and what I have done or been doing to achieve them. Some steps take longer to explain and some not so much.

Today, I want to jump from Step three-Reuse to Step five-Recycl, only if you have to! before going through the Step four-Remake. Reason being, we hear a lot about the recycling conundrum nowadays specially in Australia and how some Victorian outer councils had to cancel their curb side recycling collection as their recycling contractors refused renewing their contracts due to lack of customers for their finished products.

On the other hand, some councils urging their residents to continue recycling as they still have solid contracts in place that will prohibits collectors throwing the recycling materials into landfills.

Considering all the steps we talked about so far and all the possibilities that recycling situation can create, I think it is safe to say that reducing consumption is the safe way to go. We have talked about reducing for a while in so many posts before and it just goes to show as long as you stick to the essentials and avoid packaging that comes mainly with non-essential items you do not have much to recycle any way. If you find innovative ways to reuse little recycling that gets collected out of your essential items, you could well be out of anything to recycle in the first place.

This means you don’t have to worry about the logistics and the politics of recycling around the world or in your country. You can just be free of these worries and live a happy life.

In my talks on Zero Waste and Happy and Wealthy with Frugality I go over ways to reuse stuff and rethink before putting anything in a bin. That bin being a recycling or garbage (rubbish) bin. It doesn’t matter, they are both waste. Recycling waste will be brought back to life through an energy and water intensive process that is a necessary one to if we are to have a circular process for all of our manufactured good, that is a process that uses our limited natural resources to produce the good but then give back to those natural resources to assist replenishing them.  But with the current rate of consumption  a lot more recycling has to happen and that is simply not possible with the current technology nor the current appetite for recycled products [read more here].

Again I think recycling is necessary, because it means things that can be reused after a series of transformation done are diverted from landfill but we don’t have to consume at the current rate to ensure recycling happens, we can just slow down and still plenty will be left to recycle. Plus innovating in the recycling technologies means we can recycle better ans smarter in the future not just more. More is not the answer.

Let me give you examples, milk is a necessary for many of us, if you are not a vegan or if you have kids at home that are not lactose intolerance. So buying milk from mainly supermarket if you don’t have access to fresh farm milk is essential. However, you will end up with milk bottles that you can reuse for various gardening or craft projects but after a while you run out of projects and you have to recycle. In my opinion, this is a valid reason to recycle. But drinking soft drink everyday and recycling the can then feeling all warm and cosy that “I am such a good citizen recycling the soft drink can” is not valid to me. Why? First,   soft drink is not good for you, full of sugar and its consumption in the long run has serious medical perils that will cost you and the society tons in public funding to alleviate.  Second, it is non-essential item. Third, it is not socially responsible as most of the multinational companies making these soft drinks, doing so by buying natural resources, water in this case, of third world countries forcing their farming/agriculture industries going bankrupt. So no good reason for consuming your recyclable can of soft drink. Therefore, no good reason for producing it and no good reason for recycling it.

Let me know in the comments what you think.

Step 3. Reuse

This step is a very obvious but also innovative step in a zero waste journey. You know that recycling is not the answer and it is by itself a wasteful process and you know you should reuse stuff before chucking them in landfill or recycling bins. YES, I did put those two bins next to each other, they are both wasted, unfortunately!!!

However, finding ways to reuse stuff are difficult and sometimes need lots of research and time to figure another way of reusing something.

I decided to post on stuff that I ended up reusing so here goes the REUSING SERIES 🙂

Make your own period pad by reusing old clothing

A typical woman uses roughly more than 11,000 feminine hygiene products, tampons or pads, in her lifetime. That’s just for ONE FEMALE. That’s a lot of waste in landfill and tons of money out of pocket. We are talking about mountains and mountains of pads, tampons and baby nappies and grown up nappies in the landfill, where they don’t really belong to be honest.

Reusable pads are easier to use, more breathable, funner to wear as they come in different prints, colors and feels. You can mix and match with what you are wearing or how you are feeling that day. You can choose to have snaps on them or Velcros but there is no toxic plastic and glue next to your lady part so PHEW!!! In general, reusable cloth pads last longer, look nicer and feel softer plus protect better.

You might say, why I am not talking about menstrual cups?

Well for start, we are reusing material here, remember, second, if you are a tampon girl cups are perfect but if you are not, then pads are the only way to go.

Also, cloth pads are perfect for postpartum wear, I should know cos I used them for specifically this purpose. I used the longer and thicker overnight pads at that time. Many women soak their pads in soothing formulations to wear against their skin to promote comfort and healing after giving birth. I didn’t because I am lazy and plus I think they are pretty soft and nice already. And cloth postpartum pads seem to be a natural choice for women who choose cloth diapers for their babies.

Some pads are made leak-resistant by the thickness of their fabrics. Other cloth pads have a waterproof lining, so they require less cotton fabric than pads with no waterproof backing. The thickness of the pad also varies based on the flow level the pads are designed for, and whether they’re an all-in-one system or have adjustable inserts.

Cloth pads might seem expensive at first, but considering a typical women can expect to deal with 35 years of menstruation during their lifetime. That can cost her thousands of dollars in disposable products over time. When she switches to cloth pads, she will spend a lot less on feminine hygiene there onward.

So if you are convinced that reusable cloth pads are the way to go, grab an old T-shirt to up-cycle. You can use PUL (PolyUrethane Laminate) as the water proof layer as it is a type of laminated fabric. Or you can just go thick by adding more layers and leak proof it like that. It all depends on you and your flow.

Grab a pattern and cut away your material, sew them back together per the pattern and Voilá, you have a free reusable cloth pad.

If you want to join a group of people and sew away your cloth pad together, come along to our next get together and sew your free pad with us, all material will be provided but feel free to bring a shirt to reuse.

Making your own deodorant and other beauty products

Today I had another successful workshop with this lovely bunch, making our own hand-made non-toxic beauty and hygiene products.

These are the material we used and their pros and cons 😉

We all made a decision there to remove toxins and chemicals that we don’t know from our daily life and stick with what we know and known for generations. If you want to join our next class, visit here.

Hence we used these:

Baking Soda

Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate can help your skin in many ways. Adding a little bit to your bath water can help you deal with scaly skin and soothe itchy skin. A baking soda solution can also be used to exfoliate skin, soften calluses, and clean inflamed skin. And it may help brighten dull and darkened skin when used with lemon juice. Baking soda also works as a natural alternative to antiperspirants.

Benefits of Baking Soda For Skin

  • Deals with scaly skin
  • Soothes itchy skin
  • Exfoliate
  • Brightens complexion
  • Handles sweaty skin

Do A Skin Test First

Baking soda is generally safe for your skin. However, it can cause irritation in some people. It is, therefore, a good idea to do a patch test first to see how your skin takes it. Also, don’t apply baking soda to broken skin without checking with your doctor first.

Coconut Oil

Reported Benefits

According to Lita Lee, PhD, coconut oil has many benefits that were unrealized until studies were done on island populations who ate diets high in coconut oil. Some of the benefits Lee cites for dietary intake of coconut oil include thyroid stimulating effects; anti-aging properties; decreased levels of LDL cholesterol; antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties that prevent illness; anti-cancer effects; and weight loss as the result of thyroid stimulation. Many of the benefits of coconut oil may be due largely to the presence of lauric acid, a fatty acid present in breast milk that confers many of the immune and health benefits to breastfed babies. None of these reported benefits have been evaluated by the FDA.

Reported Drawbacks

The primary drawback to coconut oil is its saturated fat content, with 11.8 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon. According to the American Heart Association, saturated fat intake is one of the main dietary causes of high cholesterol. The Association recommends that you limit saturated fats — including tropical oils like coconut and palm oil — in order to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and prevent high blood pressure and heart disease. If you consume 2,000 calories per day, your saturated fat intake should be no more than 15 grams. A 1-tablespoon serving of coconut oil comes close to 100 percent of the recommended amount. Another disadvantage to coconut oil consumption is its high caloric density: one gram of fat has nine calories while one gram of protein or carbohydrates has four calories. If you are consuming coconut oil, then you are eating more than twice the calories you could get from equal amounts of healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and lean meats.

Jojoba Oil

What is jojoba oil and how is it made ? Jojoba oil comes from the seeds of a plant scientifically known as Simmondsia chinensis that grows in northern Mexico and south western US. It is extracted by cold pressing and processed into liquid wax used in many cosmetic products such as creams and lotions. It is similar to other vegetable oils and contains all wax esters, vitamin E and phospholipids.

This wonder oil has an incredibly long shelf life compared to other vegetable oils and can be stored for long without degrading. It has a few special characteristics that make it very essential.

Tumeric

Proven beauty benefits from Turmeric

There are many proven benefits that can be acquired from turmeric and its by-products. But when it comes to beauty, it is essential to know how turmeric acts as a resource to add beauty to your tone.

Anti-Bacterial Agent – Turmeric

The turmeric is widely considered to have antibacterial properties in it which prevents the various bacteria and germs to enter our body and also has the capability of destroying the bacterial organisms which are already present in our body. This ensures in maintaining the safeness of the skin and are also applied to various small injuries like burns and small cuts without damaging the skin.

Anti-Aging

Anti-aging has now become one common and a major problem among youths and people who are at a very young age in today’s world. There are several factors which contribute to the anti-aging including the healthy diet, pollution, stress and the environment. These are the major factors which are the main causes for creating dryness in the skin. Turmeric can be mixed with water and be applied to your skin like a face pack to reduce these problems. The making of paste and applying it all over the body is a common practice followed from the ancient cultures in many countries like the India.

Facial Hair Control

The growth of hair in face for men is common as it looks like a beard or a mustache,whereas they feel uncomfortable with the growth of hair in their faces. In order to reduce the growth of hair, turmeric can be used as a supplement when mixed with water and applied regularly can show better results in quick time. This not only reduces the development of hair in the face but also protects the skin from pollution and other infections without easily getting exposed.

Lavender Essential Oil

Pros

Act as bug repellent: Lavender oil has its specific smell which is irritating to the bugs like mosquitos, moths and midges. Applying the lavender essential oil on bare skin can help you prevent bug bites. They are even helpful in treating bug bites and reducing irritation and pain.

Regulates sleep disorders: Lavender essential oil is a great home remedy for treating sleep disorders. It is soothing and relaxing and promotes a deep sound sleep after inhaling its scent for half an hour before going to bed. It is also used for treating insomnia.

Promotes healthy nervous system: A number of nervous system functions are regulated with the help of lavender essential oil. It treats migraines and headaches along with reducing the feelings of stress and anxiety among blood pressure and heart patients. It lowers the BP and heart rate promoting better mood and healthy nervous system.

Best for acne treatment: Acne occurs because of bacterial infection which becomes worse when the acne starts feeding on face sebum. Lavender essential oil control over excretion of sebum and reduces bacteria resulting in less acne.

Cons

Causes Breast Growth in Boys: One big con of using lavender essential oil is that it causes breast growth in boys which is undesirable among males.

Skin Irritation: Constant use of lavender oil causes skin irritation and allergic reactions among the people with sensitive skin.

Causes Nausea: Consuming lavender oil can be toxic and it causes nausea and vomiting as well.

Frankincense Essential Oil

(Botanical name: Boswellia carterii)

Frankincense essential oil is extracted from the sap of the Boswellia tree. This tree grows natively in Somalia, Yemen and Oman. The tree is intentionally wounded to produce the sap needed for oil extraction.

It takes about a hundred kilos (220 pounds) of frankincense sap/resin to get about 10 kilos (22 pounds) of essential oil.

What is Frankincense essential oils used for? First of all, it contains alpha (and beta) pinene, sabinene, limonene and myrcene. They are all active molecules with specific actions. Thus, the benefits of Frankincense oil are very diverse.

One of Frankincense’s benefits is that it can calm down inflammations. It has strong anti-inflammatory effects that act almost immediately. This ability helps the immune system respond to sudden external aggression.

The oil is also great at forming scar tissue. The alpha-pinene increases the ability to repair the skin and other soft tissue. The oil can prevent bacterial infections and inflammations. Thus, the scab of a wound is formed faster and the healing process sped up.

Another great benefit of Frankincense is its immune boosting effect. It strengthens the body’s natural defense mechanism and makes it more resistant.

Frankincense can also make body secretions more fluid and promotes their elimination. This effect helps clear the respiratory system from phlegm and mucus.

Frankincense is great at relaxing the nerves and muscle tissue. This favors a good sleep and anxiety relief.

The oil of Frankincense can also help with depression.

 

Jasmin Oil

The heady jasmine oil has quite the reputation as an aphrodisiac. But this precious oil can do much more for you. Use jasmine oil to improve your mood, lower anxiety, relieve sore muscles, and ease menopausal symptoms. Jasmine oil can work for your skin and hair as well, helping moisturize, soothe, and nourish them. A massage with jasmine oil can reduce pain during the first stage of labor.

Benefits of Jasmine Oil

  • Relieves sore muscles
  • Improves your mood
  • Lowers anxiety
  • Relieves menopausal symptoms
  • Nourishes your skin
  • Smooths frizzy hair

 

More on this topic in a future post 🙂

Zero waste living in an apartment

This topic was requested by one of our readers/followers and I think it is a very appropriate topic as nowadays more and more people are living in apartments/units and places that don’t necessary have backyards, balconies or an outside area for gardening, composting or alike.

I lived in an apartment for as long as I remember, some of them had balconies, some had tiny backyards, some had none. I was in various stages of my zero waste journey and in any of these stages somehow I managed to move forward in an apartment.

Here are  my tips and tricks for zero waste living in apartments:

First make a plan

This is not different from the first step of 5R, the method that I initiated and follow. Make sure to have your goals set, communicated with those that live with you in the apartment, either your family or your roommates. Write what you want to achieve down and have it somewhere visible to everyone.

Then go through your lifestyle, your shopping, your eating and your work habits and identify points that you can improve upon in order to achieve your set goal. Make sure everyone take part in this exercise otherwise they will feel left out and that you are forcing your goals on them.

So now that you have a goal and you have ways to work towards that goal, it’s time to make plan for improving those things.

For example, you goal is to lower your organic waste in landfill:

One way is to compost, if you have a balcony with a shady area you can make or buy a worm farm (small one) but make sure to read about those (or wait for my next post on them) before committing to one as they can be high maintenance.

Another way is to get a Bokashi bin:

They are good for not too much organic waste specially offices or small apartments with few people. They don’t smell, and don’t make a mess so you can have them inside even in your kitchen.

What I did when I had a small balcony with no shady area was to get free Styrofoam Boxes from my local fruit shop and use those to bury my organic waste. It was a great bed for planting my potatoes, tomatoes, and herbs. My space was limited but as it was getting lots of oxygen, rain water and sunshine, the composting was happening so fast that I was amazed. I also composted my soap nuts in this manner:

Second reduce your consumption

What is important is we accumulate stuff when we have extra space, food, clothing, furniture, books and so on. You name it, we accumulate them all. When you live in an smaller area, for example in a small apartment, you know how valuable the space is. In another word, you value your space more than someone that has so much space doesn’t know how to fill it. So when I tell you reduce your consumption, you will thank me for it because as soon as you do this step, you feel lighter and find much more space around you that allow you to breath freely. So read on.

Reducing is not only about what we own is about what you bring into existence. If you buy something, you will bring it home in most cases and then have to put it somewhere so it will occupy space. But if you buy this thing from a shop or somewhere that is directly or indirectly connected to the manufacturer, you also trigger yourself as a customer to that manufacturer and shop. So they will plan more things for you. Even if you search for something on google, you are tipping bunch of businesses that you are potential customer so make them plan for your future when you are finally ready to make the purchase. So they go ahead and make those things for you and when you are ready they have it all packed and pretty for you. This might not seems like much in scale of one but imagine in a scale of million. Imagine if we all change behaviour and consume less. Many of unnecessary products won’t even been manufactured. Do you know how much time, resources, including energy, water and human manpower will that save.

So if you reduce your consumption in the long run you will realise that material things do not make you happy so naturally you won’t buy things that you don’t need as they don’t serve any purpose any more. If they don’t make you happy and they have no use so why should you spend your time, your money and your space on them.

This means you will only bring stuff home that you absolutely need. Hence, less waste. Because you need them so you won’t throw them out. Or you need to eat them so you eat them and the left over you compost.

You would say, what about the packaging. Well that bring me to the third:

Third reuse

The idea here is to try your hardest and get stuff that are reusable. Don’t think disposable, don’t think one time. Think always, all the time, multiples. Think bulk, think regrowth, think more than once.

Chances are packaged food are only usable once. Even if you take food from restaurant, have a container with you to bring the food home. Don’t bring disposable cutlery home where you have thousands of forks and spoons.

You might say, how about the fruit and vegetables that are in packaging. I say, AVOID THEM. Run Forest, RUN.

You can regrow most of your fresh herbs, vegetables and some of your fruit even in an apartment as long as you get some natural lights. So go to your local fruit shop and get some fresh produce. Why do you need those packaged ones any way. If any one has a purpose for those organic single sweet potato in a tray wrapped with plastic wrap in the supermarket, please comment below. Let me know so I get informed as I have no idea why those exist.

Anyway, let’s get back to reusing. So think actively about reusing things around you. Reuse all the jars you bring home, tomato pastes, pickles, pesto, other condiments. Use some of them to take soup to work (I have done this and continue to do so don’t you cringe!). Or maybe some others to make your own pickles. Don’t toss them out easily.

Reuse your old clothing that you can’t donate as rags and stop buying paper towels for the kitchen.

Reuse your milk cart and use it as watering can for your compost that you just made by reusing a Styrofoam Boxes from your fruit shop.

Reuse your plastic bags for your next trip to market or maybe make something new with them. There are tons of ways you can reuse plastic bags to make sandwich wraps, make plastic woven rugs, fuse them together and make a new more durable shopping bag.

I challenge you to look at your bin and find three things that you can reuse instead of tossing. Then try to do this on a regular basis. This will empty your bin after a while.

Want more ways to empty your bin:

Fourth start making your own… everything

I can’t say that I do make everything, specially with a 15 month old. But there was point when I was living in an apartment in Glen Eira that I did make our own everything 😉

From hummus, tomato paste, pickles to jam, cake, bread and so one.

Now I am making my own bread, so no packing come near my house for bread nor any waste go out of here as we bake fresh and eat fresh.

Most of the times, we still make our own jam. The bread and jam and also pizza dough are easy to make thanks to our bread maker machine:

We only buy bulk essential ingredients to make stuff. Like fabric then I sew a dress or design one and ask a friend to make me one. Have to admit her dresses are nicer with better finishing as she is a proper dress maker 🙂

Another challenge, for the next month actively look around you and observe what you buy on daily, weekly basis and think if you can find a way or you already know a way to make that easy and cheap. If the answer is yes, go for it. If the answer is no, find a way to do so. If you can’t find it on internet, YouTube or by asking your family and friends then keep it in your shopping list.

This will eliminate a lot of things that you had to buy and remove their associated packaging as well. Also add joy to your life as we enjoy providing for ourselves and our families. Even cake mix marketing campaigns after world war II got that right, “housewives needed to feel like a more integral part of the creative process” because they wanted to make something with their hands for their family and adding an egg and putting the icing on the made cake from the box allow them to feel like that.

But even after all these efforts, you can see a lot of packing every where, what can we do.

Recycle them if you have to

I always say recycle if you have to because recycling is not waste free. Even if we assume that what we recycle get recycled. It requires a lot of energy, water, manpower, time and other resources to make something out of recycled paper, plastic, metal and so on.

Think twice before recycling, think if you can reuse it. Or even better think even before buying it, think if you really need it and if so think if you can make it your self. So I am just repeating here but go through the steps for every single thing for two weeks and then you will do them automatically. After a month you realise a massive reduction in your house hold expenses, lots of happiness around and a lot less garbage and recycling.

Let me know what you think and if you take any of the challenges, comment on your progress and what you learn by the end.

Hope these tips help you too Laura.

 

Top 10 things to toss when you start a zero waste lifestyle

You might be interested in going zero waste but don’t know where to start or might be frightened by the enormity of the idea of no waste. I have to agree that the start point can be daunting and confusing. The fact is you always have to start somewhere and starting with this list of top 10 items to toss is an easy way to get your passion for sustainability fed and actually take a tangible step towards your zero waste lifestyle. The fact is I was in your shoes some time ago but I started my journey and tossing these items are tried and tested with 100% satisfaction.
The most important thing to remember is that the zero waste journey is a continuous one and you never have to stop if you don’t want to so you will always find new things to get rid of but to start always start with an easy one because the chances are you are not going to miss or you can replace with less wasteful options if need be.
Here goes the list that I started with and you can make your own list but these are things that you probably not going to miss or even notice being omitted from your life:

1st thing to toss: Bottled water

Bottled water must be one of the most over rated products on the market. In US, people are now drinking more bottled water than milk or beer. Bottled water mainly contains tap water that in some cases are treated and purified but mainly is a glorified tap water, however as bottlers aren’t required to list the source of the water on the bottles there is no way to prove or disprove their advertising claims that their water come from purest spring waters on the planet. Moreover, the plastic or even the glass bottles mount to ridiculously huge amount of rubbish in the landfill or at best recycling loads that require massive amount of energy, water, and time and man power to recycle.
Then there is the issue of fluoride that some bottled water companies use to lure the customers. They mention that you need fluoride for the health of your teeth. The fact is in most developed countries the fluoride is added to the tap water for some time already, for example back in 1945 fluoride was added to tap water in US. Therefore, you don’t need the bottled water to bring the all needed fluoride for the health of your teeth.

2nd thing to toss: Plastic bags

Plastic bags were made popular by a Swedish company in 1960’s. They were convenient and palatable to the 20th century man who was not largely as environmentally conscious as a 21st century one. Plastic bags are mostly not accepted by curb side recycling services and some stores like IKEA have banned them in their UK and US stores altogether (“IKEA to Phase Out Plastic Bags in U.S.”. GreenBiz. 2 April 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2017). There are biodegradable options for plastic bags and given that 60% of the plastic bags are reused as bin liners or for other purposes (Plastic shopping bags in Australia Environment.gov.au 2010-06-13 Retrieved 7 May 2017), it is probably a good idea to use the biodegradable options to avoid extra methane and co2 emission in the landfill. But you can toss the plastic altogether by using your fold-able cloth bag.
In Australia, major supermarkets, Coles and Woolworth, do accept plastic bags and in general any crunch-able plastics, like wraps and other packaging that crunch in your hand, for recycling. They turn these plastics into outdoor furniture for Aussie primary schools and pre-schools. In 2016, customers returned more than 299 tonnes of plastic to only Coles stores to be recycled. I have to admit I hear more and more that these bags are not recycled and just dumped in landfill so don’t trust the recycling much specially as China is not buying our recycled material so less incentive for them to do proper recycling after all.

3rd thing to toss: Window cleaner

Windows get cleaned on regular bases; if counted you probably go through at least couple of bottles of window cleaner per year depending on how many windows you have, how many times a month they get cleaned and how you clean them. They are advertised as fast cleaners, grease removers and so on. Chances are the worst stain on your windows is dust and rain water marks that are easily cleaned by slightly wet newspapers. For more offensive stains you can use some diluted vinegar and a clean rag.

Cleaning low windows are easy and hazardless chores for the kids in your household. Therefore, handing them non-toxic material to work with such as diluted vinegar probably will add to your piece of mind and will not create any allergies for your kinds plus you can enjoy a cuppa when your little one(s) are fulfilling their duties! On this note, newspaper inks can be toxic so if you are putting your kids in charge of window or mirror cleaning probably stick to the vinegar and don’t use the newspaper option.

4th thing to toss: Stove cleaner/Oven cleaner

There is no need to mention that these sort of cleaning products contain chemicals that have fumes that could be harmful to general public when breath in, it is even mentioned on the cans of products purchased in supermarkets. You can save money and save your health by ditching these products altogether. Just clean your stove and oven frequently to avoid sticky mess that are stock for ages and for extra cleaning and shine use diluted vinegar.

I mixed one part vinegar and five part water to clean stove, oven, even fridge and freezer. You might think, girl your house must reek of vinegar. My response is, NOPE! The diluted vinegar does not have an overpowering smell and even the slight odour that might be sensed at the time of applying is not distinguishable after couple of minutes. Vinegar water is a perfect solution for almost all cleaning problems in the house.

5th thing to toss: Antibacterial wipes

Antibacterial wipes can spread superbugs. Disinfectant wipes routinely used in hospitals may actually spread drug-resistant bacteria rather than kill the dangerous infections; most cases are associated with hospitals, nursing homes or other health care facilities (reference
). So if these wipes are defeating the sole purpose of their existence seems logical to get rid of them. Risking sound like a broken record, I suggest you use diluted vinegar spray and a simple rag to clean your surfaces. Especially surfaces in the kitchen that contact your foods are sensitive places that you don’t want to be covered in superbugs. Water will clean most of the problems in the kitchen but to make sure all is clean acidity of diluted vinegar will do the job.

6th thing to toss: Coffee cups

Each of us drink at least a cuppa or two a day and these disposable coffee cups can be mount into a mountain of plastic or paper trash. The solution to this one is easy. This one is a replacement option and there are so many trendy reusable coffee mugs/cups you can enjoy instead of the disposable paper or plastic coffee cup. Get customised reusable cups and taste the caffeine in style. Or use some trendy designed cups for example on various sites.

Another part of the coffee cup that is wasteful is the coffee cup lids. They are usually made of plastic, the first of which was patented in 1967. When using a reusable cups, these lids are made of silicone or durable plastics that are washable and there is no need for tossing at least for couple of years.

7th thing to toss: Microwavable popcorn

I am all up for good old popcorn with my favourite movie but please ditch the microwavable one, save money and packaging and buy a kilo of corns from a bulk store and pop them in a pot on your stove. You’ll thank me for it.

The argument for these microwavable popcorns can be the ease of use and the speed of preparation. But the difference between the price of this type of corn and the bulk one can easily turn the argument against the use of microwavable ones.

8th thing to toss: Papers towels/tissues

Some paper towels can be used even multiple times but majority of them are disposed after only one use. In either case, using a simple rag can be your safe haven; you save money and the environment at one go.

You might use paper towels for other purposes, for all those you can utilize a more sustainable solution. For instance, make your own floor wipe with old clothing that are not useful anymore. Or design and sew your own cloth napkins instead using disposable tissues.

9th thing to toss: Antibacterial Hand wash

Refer to the 5th thing to toss as the same reason applies here. These hand washes are defeating their purposes and therefore using normal bar soap that can be bought in bulk therefore reduces packaging and waste is your way to go. In this way you eliminate bottles of hand wash, paying for expensive and often illusive products and still keeping hygienic household.
Another way to eliminate frequent shopping of bottled hand wash is to buy bulk. You can fill your liquid hand wash dispenser with a hand wash you bought in bulk to avoid packing but still have the ease of the use of liquid hand wash.

10th thing to toss: Body wash

I agree that we are increasingly using bunch of corporately produced and marketed chemicals and smear them all over our bodies’ everyday just to get by. These chemicals with their synthetic smells make us feel acceptable in the society and abandoning them seems too outrageous and even frowned upon in some communities. You have grown up believing these products make you clean like no other and nothing else can do the job. WRONG! Your body does not need them. Your body is meant to sweat to get rid of toxins and regulate its temperature. To keep the BO at bay you only need to keep the bacteria away from your skin surface that feed on your sweat and create the BO. These bacteria are easily washed away with a simple body scrub (wool or cotton one, even the synthetic will do the job). As long as you clean your body with water on a daily basis you will not have BO problem and do not have to use chemical to clean or cover the smell of your body, i.e., with deodorants and so forth.

Take the challenge and go chemical free and give a couple of weeks to your body to adjust to its chemical free life (like a rehab period for your body), and you will save money and time and your sanity next time you shop.

 

Let me know what you think about the list and if you are willing to pull the plug on these everyday items.