Our biggest success story as a family this year has been our waste reduction (or production?). As a family of four, we now only empty our kitchen and bathroom bins of general waste once a week, and we rarely hit more than 12L. That’s only 10% of our waste bin, which used to be pretty damn full each week.
We are in no way zero waste, or perfect at this, but we are trying. The biggest game changers have been our Bokashi bin, Eka opening up and the online shop Flora & Fauna. I would love to give you an idea of what we’ve done to show how easy it is. It’s all about thinking before purchasing, and just changing a few habits.
A while back, we realised that most of our waste was food waste. We now have 2 bokashi bins on rotation, and the contents get buried at the back of the garden. I meal plan and shop once a week, which reduces the agonising chore that is shopping, and means less waste, as I only buy what we need. Mostly.
For a while I folded my own newspaper bin liners, but then I discovered that we don’t really need bin liners as there’s nothing gross going into the bins! I just wash the bins out now and again.
I wash and reuse our ziplock bags so I haven’t had to buy any new ones for ages. We also have reusable sandwich wraps. I refuse to use any more gladwrap, and I now use Agreena silicon wrap and beeswax wraps. If I really need something disposable for a school baking fundraiser or something, then I use aluminium foil, and I’ve managed to buy already recycled foil. The kiddies have lunchboxes with lots of compartments, so they don’t need any plastic. I do my best to bake for them, and buy things in bulk to avoid the plastic, but it’s so hard. There’s so much tempting convenient lunchbox food out there.
Detergent, and other cleaners, are refillable at Eka.
To replace disposable washing up cloths and sponges, I use washable cloths. I just bought them at the supermarket and they’ve been going strong for AGES. I also recently bought Safix scrub pads which are biodegradable, so will throw them in the compost when they’re wearing out.
All our unavoidable soft plastic waste goes in a separate bin and we hand deliver it to the special bins in the supermarket.
I have switched to ‘No Pong‘ deodorant that comes in an all-metal container. So, it is easily recyclable, but also the tins are super cute… so I keep them for storing little things in.
Only wooden toothbrushes now! They can be buried in the garden.
I use a combination of shampoo soap that comes in a cardboard box, as well as Luv Luvo liquid shampoo, which comes in a plastic pump, but is refillable at their shop. I also refill my hand wash plastic pump bottles there.
For my period, I use a combination of Tsuno pads and tampons which are biodegradable, and Hannahpad fabric pads. After having cloth nappies for a long time, washing pads is totally fine.
Unavoidable bathroom packaging goes into the Terracycle program that I’ve co-ordinated at our local kinder.
We now use soap nuts for washing clothes that come with no plastic packaging. It pays to check though… the first lot I ordered came in a plastic bag!! I still use normal washing liquid for super dirty clothes, but I can refill that at Eka.
Out and about
I use reusable veggie bags for the shopping. These are so great because you can wash your veggies in them too and just pop them straight into the fridge.
My tea and coffee cup of choice is Frank Green, because they actually seal and I feel much safer around the children with them, especially at the park. If I want a coffee to stay extra hot for a long time (ie. long drives) I use my Cheeki cup.
We’re yet to take them out, but I own stainless steel straws that we use when the kids request one for tea parties at home.
I think one of the hardest thing about our low waste adventure is the cost. The eco-friendly way is often not the cheapest way. But it reassuring knowing that we are leading by example for the kiddies, because it’s their future.