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My Top 5 Realistic Zero Waste Hacks

Zero Waste is impossible. I have 2 little kids, a husband, a business or 2, and a busy busy life. Does it mean it's futile to try? Or to make changes?

I have done my best to overhaul our life (poor Aaron yet again!) and there have been some wins and some things that have really been more trouble than they're worth... While I don't have tons of spare time going on, I do make room for what I'm passionate about. And I also realise that not everyone is going to get passionate about this like me. But it doesn't mean you don't want to make changes if you can. And the good news is you can. Here are my top 5 realistic ways to have a lighter footprint on this beautiful planet we steward.

My Five Easiest ((Realistic)) Zero Waste Hacks

1. Buy glass jars

When you're supermarket shopping this one is super easy. For many everyday items like relish, jam, mayonnaise and juice there are items in plastic AND items in glass. Single-use plastic, even if recyclable, is the devil ok? Even the best most recyclable plastic can only be recycled up to 9 times. And then it's landfill. And how many times do you think that bottle or jar you buy is realistically going to be properly handled, recycled, reused, repurposed in that potential cycle anyway? Buy glass jars, use the contents, then wash and store the jars until either a. you have a use for them (going plastic free/bulk in your pantry, making jams or relishes for gifts, storing buttons or craft items) OR donate them to your local op shop. Ideally collect a bunch of the same kind - makes it more lucrative for the op shop to sell.

In the same vein cans can be endlessly recycled (I believe) so when you can buy those instead of alternatives in plastic packets. Think baby food and pet food, pasta sauces and ready made meals.

2. Buy second hand

If plastic is the devil (and it is) then buying second hand is like going to confession and having the slate wiped clean. It's total zero. Guilt free. The goods are already in the system, you are just giving them further life. I must say that I told myself that when I used to buy a lot more new stuff - it's already in the shop, someone has got to buy it. But you know that this is the truth:
The extra great thing about second hand - in particular op shops - is that you are also putting money towards organisations who do great stuff. And while we're on the topic, make sure you donate to them too. Or make the effort to sell online. It helps the second hand world go round and makes sure people can find what they're after and can rely less on buying new.

3. Get clean with your cleaning

Ooohhh this one is my favourite!!! Slight disclaimer, this one can take a bit of trial and error to implement, so in that sense it's not so realistic to completely overhaul your whole cleaning regime. But maybe just pick one apsect of cleaning and start there.

I started with a make-at-home spray and wipe. You can use one of your pre-used glass bottles (like from sweet chilli sauce) and pop a spray nozzle from an old dirty plastic spray cleaner. Or buy a fancy new one if you must (guilty). Then to make your spray use about a half cup of white vinegar, teaspoon of detergent, 10-20 drops of essential oils (I use Young Living because they set the standard) and fill with water. You will never need to spend $5 a bottle buying chemical laden cleaning products in bottles that are always cheaper that their refills anyway (what is with that?!) and your house will smell amazing. I use Peppermint and Lemon.

As pictured below this is my cleaning arsenal. It is thoroughly tried and tested. I had some cleaners before who just used to use white vinegar for everything. It didn't work that great and the house smelled... vinegary. I know it was clean but I went back to supermarket products. Then I discovered the oils and the Thieves range so here's what I use to make these. (And my new cleaner even likes them.)


Spray as above or 1 capful Thieves Concentrate and fill with water. So easy.

Silver shaker contains baking soda. See you can do that! I keep this in the kitchen for scrubbing pots and pans and the benchtop.

Tall glass jar contains white vinegar plus 2 teaspoons of detergent and 2 capfuls of Thieves Cleaner concentrate. Yes this stuff comes in a plastic bottle. But it works SO good. And it makes 29 bottles of spray and wipe, it is that strong. Justified. This one I use for cleaning toilets and floors (about 1/3 of the jar will do our floors).

Jar in the front is my Jif. Baking soda (from bulk store), a teaspoon or 2 of detergent (bulk) and 1 - 2 capfuls of Thieves cleaner. This melted away the scum in the bath and my cleaner rates it. Jif was her go-to but she hated the fumes and it irritated her skin. Winning with this one.

4. Bulk it up

I get a lot of products from bulk stores. The supermarkets now have a lot of snacks/seeds/nuts/dried fruit etc and Bin Inn and the Good For store have the works - green cleaning products, baking ingredients, tea... At my New World I go the the bakery section (where I get my freshly baked sourdough) and steal a few extra paper bags. I use these to fill up from the bulk bins. And at Bin Inn I take all my jars now. It's just easier. I use 2 canvas bags, pop in my empty or half empty jars, fill them up then pop them straight into my pantry when I get home. No fuss, no packaging.

Then there's the Good For store. It's so gorgeously inspiring. You could just pick a type of product to trial and do it as a treat. Get a couple of glass pump jars (they sell them all there) and fill with shampoo, conditioner and body wash. These things last awhile so this is a one every couple of months job you can do as a treat, and then gradually add more bulk to your life as you tweak your own system. They also have an epic range of beautiful tea. And herbs and spices. And kombucha on tap. Not to mention honey, vinegar and olive oil. But again, start small with something that is realistic for you.
My last bulk shop. It gets easier every time.

5. Use your own bags

This one is a given. But my it took me a long time to get on board here. Keep a small cotton reusable bag in your handbag for random purchases like at the pharmacy, and keep your reusable totes for the supermarket or markets. I now buy fruit and veges with no plastic bags at all. (Mostly). I just help the checkout operator to load them onto the scales. It probably takes them an extra 35 seconds to serve me than the next person. Small price to pay and I don't mind being that kind of inconvenience. The other day it made it especially easy to open up my bag to the homeless guy outside begging for food and tell him to help himself. And if life isn't about connection - to people, to our land, to our past present and future, then what is it?
I know there was an article recently about how bulk is sometimes more expensive. I haven't looked into it thoroughly, and amongst all of this I have realised I can't do gluten so our food costs have increased anyway because of that. But what I will say is this... Remember when we found out kids were making our clothes and we were outraged and realised we needed to pay the true cost of items and abolish child labour. This is similar (not the same don't get me wrong...) The true cost of using all of the plastic we do is going to be felt by our children's children. Isn't it up to us to create a world we want them to inherit? In every sense. I want them to have fish in the ocean and birds in the sky. I want them to be able to eat nutritious food and not get sick from poisons and chemicals. And if I'm not going to change then how will it ever be better?

End note...

These things help me feel good, remove chemicals from our home (buying second hand really helps with this too!) and basically being more a more conscious shopper. BUT I realise this is micro in terms of the planet, consumerism, greedy capitalism (there is good capitalism!) and excess/waste in general. Things need to change at a macro level. If you have a chance to vote on something, petition, talk to big people at big companies - these are the things that will have greater effect at the end of the day. I don't have a problem with big companies and profits. Just a problem when they don't take responsibility. Let's encourage them to make the changes we all want to see in our world.
Coca-Cola make over 100 billions throwaway plastic bottles every year.
90% of seabirds have eaten plastic. Coke need to take responsibility and stop choking our oceans.
Sign petition to help things here in New Zealand:
Email Coke's CEO:


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