Liam and Hannah on living zero waste

August 10, 2016

Liam and Hannah on living zero waste

Plastic Free July may be done and dusted, but that doesn't mean you need to stop your efforts.

We've got a guest post from Wellingtonians Hannah Blumhardt and Liam Prince, who for the last 18 months have have been living without a rubbish bin, and even limit their recycling. These are the pair's tips on ridding yourself of plastic. 

Ka pai hoki koutou if you cut down on your consumption of single-use plastics during Plastic Free July. However, our global waste problem continues apace. While Plastic Free July is over for another year, we should seek to maintain the momentum generated in the past month and keep up efforts to reduce waste all year round. We must also look beyond just plastic.

For the past 18 months, we have been living ‘zero waste’ – we have no rubbish bin, send no trash to landfill and limit our recycling to one wheelie bin of paper and one green crate of glass a year. We absolutely love it and can honestly say that our lives have changed for the better. In this post we share some tips we have picked up along the way.

Easy transitions. Often our lives are geared towards wastefulness because we are not set-up with the items necessary to avoid waste. Sourcing these zero waste alternatives is an easy, initial step to reducing waste and will also set you up for the long-term. For example:

    Where to shop and how to buy Focus your shopping on bulk bin aisles and markets. Wellington has many stores that sell food, products and ingredients without packaging. Simply take your own reusable bags/containers to:
    • Bulk, produce and deli sections at supermarkets/Commonsense Organics
    • Fruit and vege markets
    • Bulk stores like Moshim’s and Manga in Newtown, and Bin Inn in Petone
    • Bin Inn and Commonsense Organics for bulk-sourced cleaning products or key cleaning product ingredients (baking soda, washing soda and vinegar).
    • Bakeries
    • Butchers
    • Sustainability Trust's EcoShop

      Changing consumption patterns and mind-sets The ‘high priestess’ of zero waste, Bea Johnson, shows how households can minimise waste by following the ‘5 Rs’ mantra: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot, in that order (we would put “rot” before “recycle”, given our exuberant enthusiasm for composting and our deep scepticism of recycling in its present form…).

      Adopting the concepts of “refuse” and “reduce” will fundamentally change how you conceptualise personal consumption. Before buying anything packaged, it becomes second nature to ask “do I really need this in my life?” When the answer is no, it’s liberating just to say goodbye to this item. If the answer is yes, the next question is, “could I make this product myself or source it with less, or no, waste?” In many ways, zero waste is about a change of mind-set rather than a matter of substitution:

      • Always be prepared! Anticipate possible waste producing scenarios by making it second nature to always carry a cup, bottle, cutlery and containers. If you forget them, be creative and make it your mission to find an inventive zero waste option.
      • Embrace ‘slow-food’ (i.e. homemade, from scratch) over ‘fast food’ (i.e. premade, processed)
      • Become aware of all the free, unpackaged food around you (i.e. the wonders of foraging!)
      • Value the simplicity of less ‘stuff’ in your life
      • Enjoy the irrelevancy of advertising

      Self-sufficiency and community connections Connect with your community and knowledge-share to find waste-free alternatives and recipes. The internet, your friends and your family are amazing resources. If you want to know how to source or make something zero waste, Google it or ask someone you love! You’ll be amazed at what you find and you’ll feel great satisfaction making something that you previously relied on a company to provide you with (think toothpaste, deodorant, cleaning products, sourdough bread, hummus, shampoo, dairy-free milk, skincare etc.)

      Take up the zero waste challenge! While being completely zero waste might be daunting, it’s actually very easy to drastically reduce your waste (even if you don’t want to go completely zero). The key is to make the most of the plentiful resources all around us. So don’t stop now July’s over — be real tidy kiwis and bin the bin!

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