What Have I Changed to go Waste Free?


What have I changed to go waste free? 
As I mentioned in the last post I was already using reusable bottles, bags, containers etc. I have an Eco Mailbox sticker for our letterbox, no more pesky junky mail- which was a large amount of our recycling each week. I also shopped predominately second hand, cooked vegetarian every night and composted. We were already living a fairly sustainable lifestyle, yet I found we still had to make some changes to make.

  • We now buy in bulk using mesh produce bags. Unfortunately the bags I ordered online came with way too much packaging, I intend on sewing more using my flatmate’s sewing machine (first I need to work on my sewing skills). 
  • I make veggie stock out of veggie scraps and then compost the spent scraps. 
  • I started fermenting in June- I make Kombucha and use any seasonal fruit or fruit that needs to be used up. We had an abundance of chilli given to us from a friend’s garden plus our own, so I am experimenting a ferment of them as inspired by the Zero Waste Chef. I will do a sauerkraut this weekend as we have a head of cabbage to use up. 
  • I have started cooking more from scratch and experimenting a bit more to use up any ingredients. I use to have a heavy reliance of canned ingredients (mainly legumes) but I now buy these in bulk and soak them the night before. 
  • I started making soft cheeses, my BF gifted me a cheese making kit for my birthday (not completely plastic free, but now I know what I need I can buy in bulk). I also make yogurt; unfortunately I have to buy my milk in plastic, I buy a 3L bottle for cheese and yogurt. 
  • I make my own rice and nut milk. Simple as soaking, blending and straining! 
  • I collect jars and use these for storing and transporting goodies. 
  • We get our eggs in a 12 pack tray (plastic free) from a local business.
  • We reuse any plastic takeaway or food containers that do make it in to the household. I took my homemade croutons (from old bread) to work last week in a crushed garlic container. 
  • We have a small veggie and herb garden, and some large citrus trees which were already on the property (yay!). 
  • We have a compost bin and a worm farm for any food scraps. 
  • I reuse egg trays for planting seedlings. 
  • I borrowed some NZ specific books from the library: Find it, Eat it and Julia’s Guide to Edible Weeds and Wild Smoothies to help me identify garden weeds I can eat. I made a great weed pesto last weekend and I obviously successfully identified everything as we didn’t get sick (always helps!).
  • We go to the night markets most Thursday’s, we now bring our own containers, utensils and a cloth. I have found majority of the vendors to be very accepting and friendly when I ask to use my own container. One vendor was a bit slow at first as he was used to using his own, and another one gave us a plastic bag before we could stop him. The rest have been fantastic though and usually comment on how cute my enamel Scout Bowl is. We occasionally get a paper napkin/tray or bag which we take home and compost. I would also like to go to the New Lynn night markets which are waste free! They serve everything on plates/utensils etc which are washed by volunteers. 
  • I don’t usually eat out during the day, but if I do I usually plan ahead and bring a container and utensils. I also bring soy sauce in a jar if I plan to get sushi as the place closest to my work only has individual packets. 
  • I have a mesh produce bag and reusable bag on me for any bakery, bulk bin or fruit purchases.
  • We compost pizza boxes or when we get burgers (from Burger Wisconsin down the road) we compost the bags the burgers come in. 
  • I switched our toothbrushes to bamboo and now make our own toothpaste. I don’t think the BF is 100% convinced with my toothpaste, but it will take some experimenting to get it right. For tramping I use Toothy Tabs from Lush as these are super lightweight and come in cardboard. 
  • I now use a menstrual cup and cloth pads which I bought from a NZ seller on Trademe.
  • I currently buy Earthcare toilet paper, but this comes in plastic, while I can recycle this I’d prefer to avoid it all together. Please let me know if you know of any other toilet paper brands I can use!*
  • I use vinegar in an old Earthcare spray bottle and baking soda for cleaning. 
  • I recently gave away majority of my bathroom/beauty products I don’t use or need on Freecycle. 
  • We still have some waste we can’t overcome as they are necessities; pill packets and daily contact lenses which the BF uses for work.
  • I have been selling, donating and giving away a vast amount of my clothes and random household items. It feels great to free up some space and make a bit of dosh on the side or give away things I know will make someone happy! For items that secondhand shops won’t take I use Freecycle- I recently gave away a massive bag of old holey stockings that someone was very happy to wear under her trousers to keep her warm at work. 
  • I buy mostly second hand, we have 10(!) second hand shops within walking distance from our house. I only buy something after considering if I really need it, and usually I will take something out of my wardrobe when I get a ‘new’ item. 
  • I also host clothes swap parties with my friends which is a great way to pass on unwanted but still wearable clothes and accessories.
  • I compost the dust & cat hair from the vacuum cleaner. 
  • We use scrap paper to write on, I often bring home scrap paper from work that would have been tossed in the bin.
  • We have a cat- Riley, who is a tidy cat who poops outside & buries it, so no nasty kitty litter to worry about!  
  • I intend on buying his dry food at the bulk bins when I can find it. 
  • If there is leftover meat in my house (a rarity as majority of the household eat vegetarian) Riley gets it, he also gets any unused eggs or small amounts of old cheese.
  • We compost his fur, or throw it out the window. 
We still have many things to change and replace, but we will do this slowly overtime as we use up products such as pens, make-up, razors and shampoo. I reuse/re-purpose a lot of items already in our household, such as toothbrushes for cleaning, plastic containers for storage, and material and paper for crafts and potential sewing projects. I also really need to work on switching our household cleaning products for the kitchen and laundry. Hopefully I can inspire my housemates to ditch the plastic too, but this one may take a wee while. So far I have been enjoying the switch and finding alternative ways to shop or use products. I have been reading so many library books on zero waste living too. Let’s hope I don’t drive everyone in my household too crazy!

UPDATE 25/4/16: We have been using Greencane toilet paper for a few months now, the packaging is totally compostable (paper & cellulose) and the TP is made from left over sugarcane pulp.

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