As we drift side-ways at 150km’s an hour into the new financial year (seriously, where has the year gone already?!) I’ve decided its the perfect time to stop and revisit some of my goals for 2017 to make sure I’m on track to smashing them before December 31st.
No Spend 2017
OK so not spending money for 12 months started out really bloody tough, but just like giving up smoking, the longer I’ve gone without it the easier it is.
Its been 6 months since the self-imposed ban began and I’m so proud of how far I’ve come. So far that’s 6 months of not buying clothes, shoes or accessories when it used to be such a wonderful past time warm in my bed, late at night listening to the not-so-subtle snoring of my husband. Peeps, that’s 6 months of being able to walk past Kmart and not buy anything. I walk past friggen Kmart and I. Dont. Buy. Anything.
A by-product of my no spend 2017 has been my commitment to another goal I set – Living a zero waste life by the end of the year.
Living Zero Waste
Did you see the new War on Waste series on ABC? Australians throw away 6,000 kilos of clothing every 10 minutes. Let that sink in for a moment…
So what gave me the idea to go zero waste by December?
It started last year when I took more notice of the amount of rubbish I was passing when taking my pooch for morning walks. The local creek, gutters and roadside was chock full of plastic bags, lids, straws, take-away containers and coffee cups, I just couldn’t walk past it anymore.
I’ve now collected over 50kgs of litter in about about 20 bags and I hope this inspires others to do the same thing. When you’re out and about please take a bag with you and if you #seeitpickitup
This wasn’t the only motivator though. When I realised I’d spent those thousands of dollars on shitty fast fashion, I knew it was impacting more than just my bank account.
Not everything donated to charity can be used for those less fortunate. Shockingly, 30% goes to landfill. This literal dumping of unwanted cheap clothing is costing charities millions of dollars every year, money that could be better spent on emergency housing, food, healthcare and education for the vulnerable people in our communities. So I stopped buying it.
MY Tips on going Zero Waste
- The easiest tip is refusing to use plastic. When you have a party or you’re a party guest, have gatherings at the office or doing your weekly grocery shop, simply say no to plastic. Take your own cutlery, plates and cups. Take your own bag. Use your own containers. You’ll feel silly at first because people question what you’re doing but its only because they’re not comfortable challenging the status quo. You’ll soon get used to saying no and not caring what other people think, after all, you’re doing a great thing!
- Set up your kitchen bin cupboard with a smaller landfill bin and larger recycling bin. It’s a great visual to help you and your family reduce the amount of waste being thrown away and think more carefully about what can be reused, repurposed or recycled.
- Whilst starting out, set up a box in the kitchen or pantry for soft plastics to put in a Redcycle bin (things like chip packets and bread bags). Check the Redcycle website for what constitutes soft plastics and where your nearest drop-off point is. Or you can box up soft plastics and send them to Terracycle where they’ll turn them into affordable green products.
- Remember that although its a great way to start, recycling isn’t the best step in going zero waste. First try to refuse it, reuse it or repurpose it before recycling it (although recycling is far better than going to landfill). Using plastic, even if it can be recycled, is still encouraging its production so best to avoid it as much as possible.
- Look at what you use often and try to make it yourself at home before buying it, such as bread, yogurt, butter, snacks, laundry detergent, dishwasher tablets and shampoo and conditioner. The Rogue Ginger is a great resource for DIY instructions and how to’s for going waste free. Reducing plastic waste is not only great for the environment but it can save you money too. I’ve cut our weekly grocery bill down from about $200 to under $150 and still going.
- Keep a lidded container on the bench or in the fridge for organic food scraps and put them in the green waste bin, or start your own compost bin for the garden, or use them to easily make your own vegetable stock.
- Shop at a local greengrocer with reusable produce bags. It supports small business, supports local farmers, and avoids the lazy convenience of buying products wrapped in plastic when shopping at the major grocery stores (the prices and quality are often better anyway).
- Take your own containers to put deli meats, cheeses and other meats into. Ask the store person to tare the container on their scales first and ask them not to use plastic if possible (maybe they can use tongs or offer them to use your own if you’re initally met with some resistance).
- Take your own containers for take-away foods.
- Use a keep cup for your daily coffee – Horrifyingly, it is estimated Australians use 1 billion disposable coffee cups each year. Many cafes are now offering discounts for people bringing their own cups so not only will you be helping the environment by not using disposables, you’ll save money too! Check out Responsible Cafes and support the cafes doing the right thing.
- Start researching online for plastic free alternatives. Think things like the kids school bags, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorants, ear buds, toothpicks, dental floss, sanitary products, nappies, hair dye, nail polish, skincare, makeup and pet care. I mostly shop at Biome, local farmers markets are great too.
- Join a local zero waste facebook group for more tips on reducing your impact. You’ll find me in Zero Waste Adelaide.
- I suggest pulling everything out of your wardrobe and #shopyourwardrobe instead of buying more clothes when you feel like you have nothing. You’d be surprised how many outfits you can create out of what you already have.
I’m a naturally impulsive person. Ever seen me with a block of chocolate? I have no willpower to stop myself from eating the entire block in one sitting. I have no shame nor fucks to give, so setting goals and sticking to them isn’t really one of my strong points. Something I do have though is my stubbornness. Once my mind is made up I’m 100% committed.
Setting goals isn’t something I used to do but we were encouraged to do it by our boss two years ago. I now do it regularly and since setting and monitoring my goals, I’ve been achieving them more often.
So if the thought of going waste free, getting rid of your credit cards, not spending money for a length of time or even something as small as giving yourself 20 minutes a day of me time seems too hard, why not start a journal or create a mood board of your goals for the year, break them down into more tangible goals, and set weekly or monthly tasks to reach the big goal. The more you practice the art of goal setting the easier it is to bring them to life.
Share your efforts with me on Facebook or Instagram, tag me @newmummakim and use the hashtag #zerowastemumma when saying no to plastic, #seeitpickitup when picking up rubbish or #mumrobe when shopping your wardrobe.