This is a guest post by Cassandra from Everyday Good Co - a Melbourne based social enterprise selling everyday sustainable products.
Cassandra reached out a while ago, and after chatting for a bit I knew that our values are well aligned. We're both passionate about reducing waste and empowering others to do the same to make living sustainably easier.
Once I started looking into the zero waste movement myself and actively taking steps to reduce my waste, I realised it's a lot less of a hassle than I thought it would be in my head. Taking action and small steps can go a long way! Now I buy most of my food in bulk (being based in Melbourne helps - it's easy to find a bulk food store close by) and if I'm getting fruit or veggies I bring my own bags and don't use any additional plastic bags. I'm finding that it's such an exciting new way of doing my grocery shopping - I actually love going to the store and getting all my food now. I'm also part of a new Melbourne sustainability food coop making it easier to source household goods and groceries in line with those values (read more below).
These are just a couple of small things that have helped me reduce waste. I'll let Cassandra share some more thoughts and tips...
When it comes to reducing waste from our daily lives it can seem insurmountable. It doesn’t have to be though. From some ingenious solutions that zero waste bloggers have come up with, to simple product switches, every action does help minimise the impact that our lifestyle has on the planet. Here are a few ways that you can live more sustainably.
These are some easy switches that over a month, year or lifetime add up significantly.
Switch from tea bags to loose leaf. Some tea bags contain plastic, therefore with each cup of tea we’re not only using natural resources in the bags, we could also be adding non-biodegradable material to landfill. By buying an affordable single serve tea infuser and switching to loose leaf you could be saving money as well as the environment.
Give back what you don’t need. If you order takeaway and know that you won’t be eating it until you get home, give back the cutlery and napkins for someone else to use.
When shopping, look for items that use the least packaging. Once you start paying attention you’ll be surprised at how much unnecessary plastic some brands use versus others.
Say no to straws with your drinks. If you are a regular social drinker, this really adds up.
Consider your sushi order. If you are picking up some sushi, ask for it in a paper bag instead of a plastic container. You could also ask them to squeeze a bit of soy sauce directly onto your food instead of accepting the plastic fish soy sauce containers you are offered to reduce your plastic use even more.
These are the type of changes that involve a little bit of pre-planning but can quickly become a habit.
Bring reusable cutlery with you wrapped in a cloth napkin if you get takeaway regularly. If you mostly buy your lunches on work days you could also borrow cutlery from your office on the way out (or have your own set in your drawer), then return it afterwards. This will save you carrying it around all day.
Bring your own containers for your takeaway. As long as you let them know when you order, most restaurants and cafes are happy to accommodate your request.
Take advantage of soft plastic recycling at selected Coles and Woolworths stores. If you’re not sure what items can be recycled, or to see your closest drop off point read more about it here.
Bring containers with you to the supermarket or butcher for your deli goods and meat. If you have a regular server this is a little bit easier, but I’ve found that as long as you’re not there at a peak time most servers are happy to do this for you. Take a moment to explain that you’re working to lower your plastic use and be sure to say thank you for a no fuss transaction.
Buy in bulk. If you don’t have a bulk food store near you plan a fortnightly or monthly trip and do a bulk purchase of dry goods. Keep a bit extra in the cupboard to avoid running out between shops and to give you more variety for your meals.
If you’re ready to really step up your efforts, these are for those of you truly dedicated to reducing waste.
Research your ideal home composting solution. Composting is coming back into fashion which means that there are some innovative options that both look good and don’t carry the smell of the older style solutions. If you don’t have a backyard, a worm farm can do the same job without the need to re-home your excess compost to friends or family members who can put it to good use.
Register for community sharing. If it’s an item that you’ll only use once, or may need occasionally consider asking a friend to borrow theirs or use a community sharing app like Friends with Things, OpenShed or Rentoid. If you really need the item to keep, have a look on Gumtree or Ziilch before hitting the shops. You can find almost anything you need second hand and it’s usually cheaper or may even be free.
Ladies, let’s talk about menstrual cups. It’s estimated that in a lifetime each woman will use around 10,000 sanitary items. When you think about it, we’re creating a lot of waste each month, as well as using up resources and adding plastic to landfill. One menstrual cup can last up to 10 years and there’s different brands, sizes and styles to suit most preferences. It might take some getting used to but when you think about your wallet as well, this might be worth the switch.
Thanks for sharing your tips Cassandra!
If you're looking to get involved in the zero waste community in Melbourne and are interested in actively creating change, have a look at the Zero Waste Food Coop, a new community pooling together resources to ethically source food and household items with the aim to create a system that makes it easy for us to purchase everyday goods in line with the zero waste ideal.
Where are you at with reducing your waste? Would love to hear your thoughts and tips!