Tuesday 19 February 2019

A Zero Waste Life

I'd seen A Zero Waste Life around the shops for a while, but didn't realise that it was Australian until I saw Anita Vandyke on SugarMamma.TV a few months ago.

Soon after watching I was requesting the book from my library- which seemed a more Zero Waste thing to do. And it saved me 20 bucks too. Which I transferred to my mortgage. Which would make Sugar Mamma proud. 

Anita Vandyke is an interesting woman. She initially trained in Aeronautical Engineering, and is now a medical student. Clearly no slouch in the brains department. In the Introduction Anita describes her "aha moment", an "Is this all there is?", "Is this who I will become?" existential crisis sitting in a meeting in her mid 20s. So she quit her high paying job, and her initial motivator for change was financial when she was no longer working, and then became broader to encompass the environment, and life more generally. Anita doesn't want us to waste our time, our money, or our future. 

Plastic is Mother Nature's non-renewable resource, and time is ours. 
Anita lays out a 30 day programme for change, with four key steps- think, do, reflect and review. Apparently we can aim to reduce our waste by 80% over 30 days. That's a big call.
Living a zero waste life is not only actually really easy, it is also completely necessary
It's always frightening to see statements like this one:
Every piece of plastic created since the 1950s still exists.  
Yes, all the little plastic toys I played with as a kid, the straws I used (well they were paper initially), every tub of yoghurt I have ever bought- it's all still out there somewhere. I just don't know where. In landfill? In the  Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

A lot of this stuff I knew already. I've had environmental leanings since I was a teenager. I have already made some changes over the past few years. I was a great fan of both series of The War on Waste over the past few years, and have taken up soft plastic recycling as a hobby. But I can do more. We all need to do more.

I was already most of the way to making a Zero Waste Kit to have in my handbag. I've been taking my own (reusable) cutlery to work for years. I've been refusing plastic bags for at least 5-10 years. I reuse drink bottles. I try really hard to remember to refuse straws. I'll formalise things though, and make an actual kit as Anita suggests. I did just buy myself a pretty pink, sparkly water bottle. It sparks joy every time I look at it... oh wait, that's another book altogether.

I took my kit to Thailand last week,
it was great, very handy
Early on (Day 5) Anita suggests that we put ourselves onto a buying ban for the rest of the month. But I'm not ready to commit to a buying ban just now. Not that it wouldn't help me, but I recently bought a new house. I'm buying huge, expensive things at the moment, like solar panels, and a fireplace. I am trying to cut down - it just doesn't look like it right now ...

A lot of the content overlaps with other reads I've done recently. Decluttering. Minimalism. Gratitude. Food waste. Environment. Politics. Philosophy. Mindful consumption. 

It was a Sunday afternoon, I had just come home with a bag full of clothes after spending a few hours at the local shopping centre. I was sipping my takeaway iced chocolate while checking my Instagram and Facebook feeds. After an hour of mindless scrolling, I sat down for an evening of TV, watching housewives yell at each other. This was a regular Sunday for me. Looking back now, all I can think about are the hours I lost in wasteful consumption- blindly shopping for more stuff, consuming empty calories and indulging in the vortex of social media and televised trash. 
Reading A Zero Waste Life has given me the impetus and the wherewithal to try some things I'd been meaning to do for ages. I'm now using a shampoo bar, and a conditioning bar on my hair- and I really like them. I'm going to buy a shampoo bar for the dog next time too.

I'm keen to try some of Anita's recipes for DIY products- both beauty products and cleaning products for the house. I'm not ready for baking soda toothpaste, but would happily try a Sugar Scrub or an All Purpose Cleaner. I'm impressed that Anita freely shares these recipes online- on her blog, or instagram. These really are changes we can all make. A Zero Waste Life is a great place to start. 



Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I’m terrible. I buy two dozen plastic bottles of water a week. I never remember to bring in my own cloth bags (even though I have thirty or more of them in my car). I sometimes toss magazines in the regular trash instead of the recycling bin.

I feel very, very bad about this. I’m usually quite good at establishing and maintaining good habits. Why am I so awful at this?

Tamara said...

We've been working hard on the plastics in our lives, but started to feel guilty when a girlfriend told me she was changing from shampoo liquid to bars to remove this bottles from her life. Then i looked around the house... we do bring in alot. I think this book would probably highlight lots of other opportunities. Good review! Important topic.

Brona said...

Like you, I've been using my own water bottle for years and we now recycle soft plastic as well as the regular kind and paper (although don't get me started on my crap neighbours in our shared complex!! I regularly have to fish out bottle from the paper bin, rubbish from the bottles and paper & plastic from the rubbish bins!)
But i did not know about shampoo and conditioner bars. Definitely going to hunt them out.

Louise said...

Deb, you're not terrible. Far from it. You could make some easy changes though- especially with the water. That's nearly 9,000 plastic bottles a year. We have all those wonderful steel water bottles that are very popular here now. Basically a thermos. They're so much better than plastic as they keep your water cold. It would also save you heaps of money each year- a free trip somewhere now that you're retired! Not putting paper in the recycling bin is no big deal, as a lot of that (well at least here) doesn't actually get recycled. But cutting your plastic waste dramatically is a really important thing- for all of us.

Thanks Tamara. It is frightening how much plastic we all use, even when we're trying to be good. There are so many great options such as the shampoo bars becoming available now. It's just switching products, not really giving up anything.

Brona. I've started bringing home recycling from work.... we really don't have much available there. This week I started buying dog food cans instead of plastic rolls. The metal tends to be much more actively recycled as it's more valuable. For shampoo bars check out Lush which is where I got mine. There's also a NZ brand called Ethique which is available at Priceline, and I'm sure other places. They have the dog shampoo bar that I'm going to try.

Brona said...

I picked up my first batch of Lush shampoo & conditioner bars today - will keep you posted on what Mr Books and I think of the experience :-)

By the by - new house? Congrats.
Hope the moving in and making it your own is going well.