Zero Waste Questions - what you have always wanted to know

15 May 2015
A little while ago I shared the Zero Waste Bloggers Network that I had been invited to join. It is a growing group that talks all things living zero waste. We share obstacles encountered and provide support to one another. It has been wonderful connecting with people from around the globe that are passionate about reducing their waste.

One of the members came up with a list of questions for us to answer across our blogs. These are the type of questions we have all been asked in some form when people learn about our life style choice.

Zero Waste Questions -
what you have always wanted to know...

1. How and why did you switch to a zero waste (near-o waste) lifestyle?
When I decided to begin a zero waste lifestyle I had been actively living plastic free. Living plastic free eliminated much of my waste already so making the switch to a waste free lifestyle was a seamless transition. The two lifestyles overlap in so many areas. So if you are daunted with the prospect of going zero waste I suggest reducing your plastic intake first.

2. Since when are you pursuing a zero waste (near-o waste) lifestyle?
July 2014. I went plastic free in July 2013. After a year living plastic free, I was creating alot less waste, that going zero waste happened naturally.

3. What are some of your favourite ways to avoid making trash?
  • Investing in reusable containers, jars and produce bags
  • Composting
  • Keeping reusable cutlery and a small cloth bag with me
  • Using the Bulk App (great to identify where I can buy unpackaged food) 
  • Asking questions like ‘do I really need this?’  
Zero Waste Questions

Zero Waste Questions

4. How do you have so much time to make all that stuff from scratch?
When I first decided to go plastic free I was spending a lot more time making sure I could continue to eat all the food I used to without any packaging. I used to stock my pantry with as many items I could get from the bulk store. It did take up my time trying to keep up with my old eating and cooking habits.

By the time I decided to go zero waste the way I cooked had changed over the year. Eating seasonal and local produce eliminated many meal options, and we eat a lot less grains and beans now. We no longer try to keep up with our old life.

Occasionally I put effort into a meal but frankly we are eating simple vegetarian meals or meat & three veg for dinner most nights enjoying the left overs for our breakfast and lunch the next day. How we eat has simplified significantly. Occasionally I will cook some beans or make a stock, and yes it does take more effort than opening a can of beans or buying premade stock in a cube. But it's really not that difficult. One upside of making your own meals, beauty and cleaning products is that many of the ingredients are multi use, so I could buy say tapioca flour for cooking and use it in my makeup too.

Making my own beauty products used to take a lot of my time too but that has changed. I have found things that work well, and now that I have practiced making them for over a year it is easy and takes no more than 10 ten minutes to make something like my mascara. It used to take me longer than 10 minutes to chose a mascara from the shops!

At the beginning I think it feels like everything takes so much time because it’s new and different. You are learning new skills, a new way of living. Like with anything new, it takes practice and finding what works for you. I am now probably spending less time than I used to before because everything is now a habit.

5. How much garbage do you/ does your family produce per week?
I live with two people; my boyfriend and a housemate. My boyfriend lives zero waste but our housemate does not participate in the lifestyle. I don’t use any of the bins in our house instead I have a small box where I collect my trash and sort through it every six months. I have not added anything to the box for weeks but this week I added a small stamp from a package my mum sent me. Below is a photo of my first six months worth of trash.

Zero Waste Questions

6. Must be expensive to cook from scratch. Are you rich?
I am not going to lie – it was expensive at the start. In question 4 I touched on how my new lifestyle was a little overwhelming because part of me wanted to keep up with how I used to live. But over the years what we now spend on food has decreased significantly. I calculated that we are saving $60-$80 a week on our shopping. When you take choice away it is a lot harder to spend money.

Because I have to take my own bags and containers my shopping is planned before I get to the farmers market or bulk store. I write down everything I need and assign a bag or jar accordingly. I can't roam the aisles buying things I think I might need because it's on sale. That alone saves so much money.

I have saved money in other areas like beauty and personal care products too. For example, replacing my tampons and pads for a cup and cloth pads has saved me $290 over the last two years. And my whole makeup collection would cost me less than $20 a year. 

7. What was the hardest thing to give up?
Junk food. Like proper junk food. Chips, chocolate, sweets, takeaway - convenience food really. I no longer miss packaged junk food like the chips and chocolates mentioned above. I have not had a Tim Tam for two years and have survived just fine.

Zero Waste Questions

8. What are your compromise items (not zero waste but you still buy them)?
None. I don’t think I have one to name off the top of my head. It is so much easier to say no now, than it was two years ago. It's been a long road to get to the point where I don't have those compromise items though.

9. What are your favorite Zero Waste blogs?
Paris To Go is my fave.

10. What’s one random fun fact about you?
I don’t know one…you can read ten here if you like.

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