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Plastic free and zero wasteproducts. Image by RikaC from Pixabay

Plastic free and zero wasteproducts. Image by RikaC from Pixabay

24+ Tips for going plastic free from Zero Waste Bloggers

28 Jun 2019

Keywords
  • sustainable living
  • plastic

We’ve all heard the term ‘zero waste’ being thrown around, and people showing off jars filled with their whole year’s worth of waste. But what exactly is zero waste? And most importantly, is living a zero waste lifestyle achievable?


The zero waste movement focuses on minimising and preventing waste. It encourages the redesign of product lifecycles so that they can be reused, upcycled or recycled. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerated, littered in nature or in our oceans where they can harm our marine wildlife.


In Australia, only 12% of plastic waste is recycled. That’s why we’re asking the Australian Government to take action by phasing out the 10 worst single-use plastics and ensure that our incredible nature doesn’t go to waste.


While it might not be feasible to go completely zero waste, there are plenty of small changes individuals can make in their daily lives to help reduce waste.


We caught up with eight of our favourite sustainable, zero waste bloggers to find out their top tips and advice on going plastic free, minimising the amount of trash and living sustainably.

 



Vicky and David form Reusable Nation

Vicky & David from Reusable Nation

Instagram | Facebook

 

What made you get into living a zero waste lifestyle?

The documentary, A Plastic Ocean! After watching it, there was no way we could go back to living such a disposable life. We were unaware of what a massive problem plastic is and thought we lived in an eco-friendly way, but it showed us we had a long way to go.


What’s been the hardest and easiest part about going zero waste?

The hardest part is changing your habits. Remembering your reusables and remembering to refuse single-use plastic is difficult at first.


The easiest part is using reusables! Simply pick plastic free produce and put it in reusable bags, hand a reusable cup to baristas, ask delis to wrap cheese in a beeswax wrap, and ask for takeaway in your own container. People are happy to oblige and usually admire our reusables.


What's the easiest change you’ve made?

The easiest change and one that made a huge difference to what we sent to landfill was composting. We simply used the Sharewaste app to find someone who would compost our food scraps for us! We freeze them in a bucket and just walk it over when it’s full.


What are your best tips for going waste free?

  • Don’t try to change everything at once! Choose one thing and work on it until it becomes a habit and then choose another thing. This way, it’ll stick. Changing things like toiletries for better options as they run out is more manageable.

  • Find like-minded people to help you with struggles and share wins with. For us, this was the Zero Waste Victoria Facebook group, but there are loads of amazing community groups helping people reduce their waste.

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Nini from Eco Warrior Princess

Jennifer Nini from Eco Warrior Princess

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

 

How did your sustainability journey begin?

I started my journey into sustainability through fashion. In 2008, my business partner and I travelled to China to do some research into manufacturing there when we launched our fashion business. I got to see the truth of fashion beyond the glitz, glam, fancy marketing and advertising.

When we returned to Australia we never did launch our business but I couldn't undo what I saw and learned when I was in China. I started advocating for ethics and sustainability in fashion and went on to launch Eco Warrior Princess as a blog in 2010 when I moved to a two-acre property in regional Australia where I would embark on a 'green' lifestyle, living in a tent and then a solar-powered shed, growing and eating veggies on the farm, composting food scraps etc. 


Fast forward to today and we are "all in" with our sustainable lifestyle. My partner and I have purchased our off-grid farm in regional QLD, sought organic certification and grow fruit, veggies and nuts and plan to develop the property in a way that aligns with permaculture principles.


What’s been the most challenging part about going zero waste?

The most challenging part is not having access to a proper package-free food store in my regional community, so I make do by buying in bulk and then recycling the packaging.


What's your easiest zero waste swap?

Just swap single-use disposables with reusables. Disposables such as tissues, straws, cotton balls, coffee cups, plastic water bottles, cling wrap can easily be replaced with reusable versions.


What are your best tips on reducing waste?

  • I encourage people to look in their kitchens as they usually have what they need to make a basic zero waste kit (like existing metal cutlery for example). You don’t have to buy everything!

  • Remember not to compare yourself to others. Focus on your day-to-day choices and how you can reduce your waste, as comparison can breed feelings of not doing enough, or living the right 'Instagrammable' zero waste life.

  • Wherever and however you decide to start, remember that it's not a competition, it's not a race, just keep learning and applying until old wasteful habits are gone and replaced with new eco-friendly ones.

  • More importantly, don't forget to share what you learn with others so that they may be inspired to do the same!

 


Kathryn Kellogg from Going Zero Waste

Kathryn Kellogg from Going Zero Waste

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter 

 

What made you get into the zero waste lifestyle?

I approached zero waste living from a holistic point of view. When I moved to California, I saw the litter everywhere and I realised that plastic isn’t only bad for our personal health but also for the health of the planet. 


What do you wish more people knew about zero waste living?

A lot of people think zero waste living is time consuming and expensive but it’s neither of those things. It’s depression era living. It’s about saving and using what you have instead of constantly buying new. It’s also not really time consuming, because it’s all about building habits.


What’s your favourite zero waste items you can’t live without?

I love my insulated water bottle, snapware and my Thinx. 


What are your top tips for moving towards a more sustainable lifestyle?

I recommend that everyone start with the big four. 

  • Say no to straws. If you need straws or like them, opt for a reusable one. My fav is glass!

  • Ditch plastic water bottles. If you have access to safe, clean drinking water get yourself a reusable water bottle. If you don't like the taste, get a filter! Charcoal sticks are pretty inexpensive. They say they only last for three months, but I've been using mine for two years. I just keep boiling them and they work fine. 

  • Bring your own bags to the store. If you tend to forget, get a couple that fold up real small and attach to your key ring. You'll always be with them. 

  • Avoid take-away coffee cups which are actually lined with plastic and unrecyclable in most places. The lids aren't recyclable either. So if you forget a thermos (you can also use that water bottle you have on you!) or don't have time to ask for a mug and drink it in the shop, go topless. You know - without the lid.

 


Polly Barks from Polly Barks

Polly from Polly Barks

Instagram 

 

What made you get into living a zero waste lifestyle?

I started my zero waste lifestyle in 2015 after moving into a low-income community. Living in a food desert with lack of infrastructure meant many of my neighbors rarely even saw fresh produce and trash was everywhere. I discovered zero waste and felt empowered to make changes in my life, no matter how little spare cash I had!


How hard is it to go zero waste?

I think the hardest part of going zero waste is decision fatigue. We live in a system that’s designed to make trash - so we’re constantly trying to make the best decision in an imperfect world! The best part has been understanding that zero waste can save me money and let me enjoy a much simpler, more thoughtful life.


What are your top tips for going zero waste?

  • Do a trash audit. Be like a racoon and dig into your trash can! Sort it, make notes, and identify areas you’d like to change.

  • Choose 2-3 goals (e.g. I’m going to buy a large tin of unpackaged tea rather than tea bags), accomplish them, and then re-do your audit!

  • Reduce your animal product consumption. Going from meat-eater to vegan for a whole day saves as much CO2 as a gallon of gas! Whether it’s meatless Monday or a vegetarian/vegan month, the easiest and quickest way to reduce carbon emissions is by changing your diet.

 


Tammy Logan from Gippsland Unwrapped

Tammy Logan from Gippsland Unwrapped

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter 

 

What made you get into living a sustainable lifestyle?

I’ve been interested in sustainable living since childhood but the impetus to focus more on waste started with a presentation by RMIT Uni researchers at my workplace about the impacts of plastic in waterways. It really woke me up to the scale of the plastic pollution problem and motivated me to do something to help.

I discovered the Plastic Free July Challenge and found that making more changes in my personal life made me feel more hopeful for the future and improved my wellbeing. I also noticed that the changes I was making was influencing the people around me too, so I kept it up and started a blog to make my actions more visible.


What’s the hardest and easiest part of going zero waste?

For me, the hardest part about going zero waste is finding the time to cook more things for a family from scratch and finding meals and snacks that everyone enjoys. I also find that because so much planning ahead is required to reduce food waste, get zero waste ingredients, and make zero waste food, that it can be quite stressful to host unexpected guests.


But I find it easy and a joy to swap single/use disposable items for reusable items and to DIY a lot of other things like repairing items, growing food, and creating new things I need from old things that I don’t need any more.


Easiest zero waste swap?

There are actually a lot of easy zero waste swaps if you are looking for them but some of my favourites are completely natural and compostable band-aids, stainless steel pegs, and refillable whiteboard markers.


What are your best tips for going plastic free?

  • Reduce how much you consume in the first place

  • Start thinking circularly. How can you give something as much life as possible? Can you rent it, share it, reuse it, repair it, repurpose it, redesign it, or get it second hand, and in the end recycle it or compost it?

  • Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. (quote by Arthur Ashe)

 


Margaret Cyr from Sustainable Millennial

Margaret Cyr from Sustainable Millennial

Instagram | Facebook 

 

What made you get into living a sustainable lifestyle?

I launched Sustainable Millennial because the practices of my peers were grossly negligent in regards to their waste, and the long-term environmental impact of their actions. Our goal at Sustainable Millennial is to enlighten and to inspire people to adopt habits that will benefit their bodies and our shared environment.

I find that the term ‘zero waste’ tends to be intimidating, compared to the terminology ‘low impact’, which is a bit more inclusive and realistic.


What’s been the hardest and easiest part about going zero waste?

The hardest part is in the moments where you feel that society is moving in the opposite direction. For instance, I only purchase glass-bottled drinks if I’m craving something other than water, but today I realized that two companies that formerly sold their drinks in glass bottles had switched to plastic.

Making the decision to no longer support a company that prioritised profits over reducing plastic pollution is one that we will always make. Living a low impact lifestyle becomes easy when you take the first step of not using single-use plastic, and letting it become second nature.


Easiest zero waste swap:

The absolute easiest waste swap is the most basic of them all - BYO! A reusable mug and water bottle. A cutlery and reusable straw set. This eliminates the need to ever take a plastic or paper cup, which take 450+ and 20+ years to decompose, respectively. And that's not even calculating in the carbon costs of producing the item, then shipping it.

Your best tips for going plastic free / zero waste:

  • Have a reusable bag in your car, backpack, or wherever you frequent.

  • Plan ahead. You’re less likely to be caught off guard needing to use plastic if you have a glass or stainless steel container in your bag on the off chance you’ll want to get something to eat.

  • Bring a snack. Packing your own goods allows you to stay in control of what is used to transport your food.

  • Do your research. There are biodegradable zip bags, biodegradable packaging for makeup and deodorant.

  • Look for a bulk store to buy dry goods, and head to a grocery store that doesn’t use plastic packaging for fresh produce. Lots of single-use plastics can be phased out if you look into eco-friendly alternatives.

  • DIY. Most beauty and cleaning goods are easily made at home.

  • Vote with your dollar. Spend your money at stores that do make the effort to introduce innovative packaging or low impact goods, and support individual companies that do the same.

  • If you do end up using plastic, that's okay. In certain cases it is unavoidable! Give yourself a pat on the back for caring, make a note to be better next time, and save the container for leftovers, sending food home with friends, or for projects around the house. 

 


Amy French from the Good Life with Amy French

Amy French from The Good Life With Amy French

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter 

 

What made you get into living a zero waste lifestyle?

I grew up in an eco-conscious household, but it wasn’t until after I had my own family that our trash got completely out of control with overflowing bins and mountains of trash. We argued over who had to do the midnight run to deposit our rubbish in the neighbour's bins each week!


I knew I could do better and made a plan to start, one step at a time, beginning with plastics. These days, we have almost no rubbish at all.


What’s been the hardest and easiest part about going zero waste?

The hardest part about going zero waste is seeing simple ways that anyone could do better, while also recognising that so many people are still unaware of the impact our daily trash and consumption habits have on the planet.


What's your favourite zero waste swap?

My favourite zero waste swap has been bar soap. Our family used to use so much liquid soap and body wash. Switching to good old fashioned, unpackaged bars of soap has not only saved loads of money but made a big dent in reducing disposable plastics. It’s so easy to do and markets are a fabulous place to find locally made soaps.


What’s your best advice for anyone going plastic free?

  • Just make a start, and don’t aim for perfection.

  • Any swaps you can do, no matter how small, really does make a big difference over a month, a year and beyond (and yes, you can totally just start with the swaps that sound like the most fun!).

 

 

Amanda Chapman from Waste Free LandAmanda Chapman from Waste-Free Land

Instagram | Facebook


What started you on your waste free journey?

There was no epiphany moment for me when it came to my waste reduction journey. I studied Environmental Science at university because of my passion for the environment and animals as a child, so my environmentalism grew from there.


What’s been the hardest part?

The hardest part of going zero waste is always being aware of any unnecessary plastic, once you see it there’s no ‘off switch’! You need to learn to say ‘no’ to plastic a lot, while also kindly explaining why. Reducing your waste gets much easier with time and practice, and I found a lot of my friends and family started doing their part too just by watching me. 


What’s your easiest zero waste swap?

My easiest zero waste swap would be no swap at all! Asking yourself if you really need something, or can you make do without? Using what you already have is what zero waste is all about. Most people already have plastic takeaway containers, pasta sauce jars, reusable grocery bags, so why not use those instead of buying flashy new ones? 


Your top tip for going plastic free:

  • My top tip for your plastic free journey is to not take failure personally.

  • Do the best you can!

  • Make sure you include others in your journey so as not to alienate yourself.

  • Let others see how easy and worthwhile sustainability is.

 


 

Do you have any tips to reducing your use? Let us know what efforts you’re putting in to make the world free from single-use plastics by using the hashtag #EndSingleUsePlastic.

Don’t let nature go to waste.

Urge our Australian politicians to phase out the 10 worst single-use plastics today!


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