Day 30

Welcome to Day 30!

We have arrived at the end of the challenge – a huge congratulations to everyone for starting and sticking with it and for all your contributions! I want to recognise you as the innovators that you are for being part of this pilot program and the zero waste movement. Being an early adopter is a challenge – not only do you have to do things you’re not used to doing, but you often have to do them in front of others who may be resistant to what you’re doing. That’s why it’s important to have the support of others along the way to find your community and make your network. I hope that being part of this challenge with other participants has given you a sense of that, and I hope you can continue to build your community, be it online or in the real world!

Today’s challenge for you is to think about ways you can sustain the changes that you’ve made and carry on into the future. What has been useful for you? What has been easy or hard? Are there changes you think you’ll implement outside your own home as a result of doing this challenge – at your school, workplace or in your community? If you had to do this challenge again, what would your new pledges be?

Living zero waste comes down to a series of choices, but with time and practice those choices become habits that we no longer need to think about because they’re part of our lifestyle, and part of who we are.

How can we influence others?
By setting a positive example, with an emphasis on positive. If living zero waste is easy and fun, people are going to to get curious, interested and want to join in.

How do I keep it going?
To give you some ideas, here’s a fun documentary called No Impact Man about a year in the life of a family dedicated to zero waste: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9Ctt7FGFBo. Maybe you could have a movie night with your own family to get inspired to keep the zero waste challenge going in your own home – or invite friends to share your passion for eco living. Or maybe you could start a blog and do your own zero waste challenge! Whatever you decide, I wish you every success and may the challenge continue from Day 31 onwards!


Day 29

Welcome to Day 29!

Today we’re looking at a different source of water wastage – and no, I’m not talking about leaving the water running when you brush your teeth or do the dishes (because you know better than that, right?). I’m talking about:

– your diet –

You know how we got so pumped yesterday about the prospect of saving 11,000L of water a year by replacing our shower heads? If you eat meat, the embedded water cost of one burger is equivalent to a month of daily showers, with over 15,000L of water going into 1 kilo of meat alone.

I’ll give you a moment to – uh – digest that.


Feeling queasy? Here’s some more information to sit with while you’re waiting for that information to go down: http://www.lessmeatlessheat.org/facts/

It’s a sobering thought, but this is not a shame game. The environmental and ethical impact of meat eating aside, for some people, their bodies function better eating meat than without it, and they worry that by giving up meat they will suffer for it. For others, not eating meat actually improves how they feel, while for another group of people – and I know I’m one of them – they feel fine either way.

If you’ve never tried to reduce your meat intake, now is the time. Try cutting it down by a third and see how you feel. You could actually end up improving your health as a result and making a huge difference to your carbon footprint. Of all the tips and tricks we’ve been employing along the way, this is one of the biggest.

If you’re concerned about your health, get a baseline blood test and talk to your doctor about when to schedule a follow up. Want some advice on how to do it right? I really like this website, and this post should tell you all you need to know: https://zenhabits.net/how-to-become-a-vegetarian-the-easy-way/

Already veggie and proud? Let’s try a vegan approach to cut down on dairy products. Again, same rule applies: try cutting back your dairy intake by a third, and if you’re concerned about the impact on your health, get a baseline/follow up blood test so you can track your progress. Need motivation? You don’t need to do this alone. There are lots of great resources online, one being the ever positive Jenny Mustard. If you’d like to hear soothing Swedish tones you can watch her advice for new vegans here: http://jennymustard.com/etc-how-to-go-vegan-my-advice-to-new-vegans-vegan-curious/

I’ve been vegetarian for four years and am proud to report I’m super healthy to the point where I’m considering trying to go vegan just to see what happens. Also, did I mention that vegan restaurants are absolutely delicious? If you’d like some recommendations – or have some to share – I’d been happy to add/hear some in the comments, be they in Hume, Moreland, or beyond!


Day 28

Today we’re going to look at leaks and showers – two big contributors to water waste in the home.

If you have a leak, get it fixed. Not sure if you’ve got a leak? Go take a look at your taps now – all of them! – and assess. Make sure you turn them on and off and wait for a bit. If you spot a leak, make a note of it, phone a friend, book a plumber, but whatever you do, get onto it – that goes for me, too! Chances are that you’ve put up with that leaky tap for far too long already, wasting money and precious H20 as it goes gurgling down the drain. Plus, it’s good feng shui to have all your utilities in working order, and who doesn’t want positive chi permeating their home?

If you take a leak, use a half flush or some grey water. I’m filling the bucket that was previously my waste bin with the first lot of water that comes out when I turn the shower tap on and wait for it to warm up. Then I can use that water as my flush water. It’s a small step, but it is also keeps me conscious of the water that I use in the shower.

Showers are more eco-friendly than baths, right? Depends how long your shower is! At the height of the drought, I was abiding by the 4 minute rule to shower. These days it’s probably a bit more than that, but it’s definitely a far cry from the days when I’d stay in the shower so long that the hot water would run out! I think even if I reduced my showering time by a third it would make a difference – why not try it? All of these tips are essentially about changing our habits, and if you get into a habit of showering for a certain length of time, then you won’t need to set yourself a timer because you’ll become accustomed to how long it should take.

Also, remember that you can also get a water saving shower head for free – as mentioned in Day 24, Easy Being Green will come out and replace not just your light globes but also your shower head. Those deets again are: http://easybeinggreen.com/energy-efficiency/. Of course, if you’d rather do it yourself then go right ahead – participating council offices that will do the swap are:

Hume: Broadmeadows and Craigieburn office
Moreland: Brunswick, Coburg and Glenroy office

Just present your old shower head and a water bill and you’ll be on your way to saving 11,000 litres of water a year – now that’s a good reason to make the change!


Day 27

Today we’re going to talk about appliances. Do you know how much power you use? Do you know how much you could save?

Remember how you dutifully scrubbed out your fridge way back in week 1? It’s time to do a secondary inspection, but this time we’re looking at seals. Cracked seals can cause your fridge to leak cold air, which reduces its energy efficiency. I know this because I am living with a noisy motor that is crying out to be cooled! If I weren’t doing zero waste, I would probably assume I just had to replace the fridge. Not so! The seal can be removed and replaced and your fridge will be pacified because it will stop sucking up energy trying to frantically cool itself. Other signs to look for/ways to care for your fridge? I’ve got you covered – check the 9 tips listed here: http://www.momentumenergy.com.au/habitat/at-home/fridge-energy-efficiency-tips/

How about a washing machine? It depends how much you fill it – but don’t overfill! For me, I’ve noticed that since I’ve decluttered my wardrobe, I now have to wash fairly small loads because I end up running out of clean clothes. What I could do is wash the items I really need by hand while I wait for the load to fill up. If I did that, I think I could double the amount of time I went without having to use the washing machine. And when I do use it, it’s always on cold to save power (and to save my clothes from shrinking!).

One oft quoted fact is that a dishwasher uses less water than washing up by hand. Again, it really depends on how many dishes you wash in one load. If you wait to use your dishwater at full capacity, then it may be just as efficient. However, if you just put a few items in, or don’t bother to do a preliminary rinse of a food caked item, thus necessitating another round in the dishwasher to clear it of crusty food, then a simple hand wash will be quicker and use less water.

There are also some items that you don’t need to wash repeatedly if you’re going to keep using them for the same purpose. A bread or cake knife doesn’t need to be washed every time you slice yourself a new piece of bread and/or cake. You can just keep it in the bag or in the fridge beside your item. Why waste resources and time on chores if you really don’t need to? Less time for washing up, more time for having your cake and eating it, too!

Finally, the dryer. It’s winter, and a lot of people instantly switch to a dryer and don’t look back until summer. Is that necessary? Considering that a dryer uses as much energy as your washing machine, dishwasher and fridge combined, you may want to rethink this approach. If the sun is shining, make use of it – just get your clothes back in before sundown or else they’ll get damp. If your house is heated, then hanging your clothes out to dry inside will have the same effect. Do you really need your clothes dry in 25 minutes? Just because a dryer is preprogrammed for a certain amount of minutes doesn’t mean that’s as long as you really need. Try reducing the time by a third and just see what happens. I recently took my clothes to a laundromat, put them in for a 10 minute cycle and came back an hour later, only to find they were dried to a crisp! Just being in a hot dryer meant they absorbed the heat without the energy cost. Experiment and see what happens!


Day 26

Today we’re going to look at draught proofing your home. Did you know that you can regain up to 75% of heat that is lost through cracks in doors, windows, and floorboards?

Sounds so toasty! But right now I’ve got the heater blaring in the living room yet I can still see my breath in the kitchen..what to do?

So glad you asked! There are DIY options out there to seal up minor cracks, but also professional installers for bigger jobs, such as double glazing your windows, which I definitely recommend! Sustainability Victoria have a great step by step guide for all the different elements in your house you’ll want to watch out for, from chimneys to exhaust fans – you can find that information here: http://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/services-and-advice/households/energy-efficiency/at-home/draught-proofing

Then, take a read through Positive Charge’s draught proof tips here:
https://www.positivecharge.com.au/household/draught-proofing/ where you can also find a local installer.

In addition to these remedies, there are very simple ways you can keep cold air out and warm air in. The most obvious is to keep doors and windows closed, including to rooms that you’re not using. This way, if you do heat a space, only that space will need heating rather than the whole house.

Open your curtains during the day to let some sun in, but close them again before it gets dark. Just heat the rooms you are using, and put on an extra layer before you turn the heating on or up.

Speaking from my own hardened experience in icy cold houses, my top tip for draught proofing your body is a hot shower – far quicker than waiting for the heater to kick into gear and often you won’t even need to use it once you’re warmed up from within!


Day 25

Today’s focus is on your electricity source. Want green power? I’ve got a recommendation for you!

– Powershop –

They’ve won a host of awards for their eco goodness and if you sign up you get a heap of cool promos – my money’s on the six Melbourne International Film Festival passes! Read all about them here: https://www.powershop.com.au

Want to go solar?

If you’re in Hume, you’re in good company! Hume figures in the top 50% of all Australian electorates. You can read more about your fellow neighbours here: http://100percent.org.au/sites/default/files/Hume.pdf

If you’re in Moreland, you’re in luck! There’s a bulk buy solar scheme that you can participate in through Positive Charge. They also provide other services too including a free light globe change which I will also update in yesterdays’ post. Here’s the link to their site for more deets: http://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/environment-bins/environment/climate-change/positive-charge/

How about solar on a small scale?

You could consider a portable solar charger from powertraveller: https://www.powertraveller.com. They’re a UK brand but do have some Melbourne stockists including camping stores such as Paddy Pallin. After doing my own energy audit a couple of years back, I realised that I was using the most power recharging my phone. I bought a solar charger a couple of years back and while it does need a lot of direct sunlight to fully recharge, it’s been particularly useful as a back up if I go to multi day festivals with no charging facilities – I just keep it charging beside me as the bands go by. Sun for the win!



Day 24

Welcome to Day 24!

Yesterday we talked about turning power off at the switch – but what about when your power is on?

How about some energy saving globes?
How about some energy saving globes – for free!

Easy Being Green will come out and replace your old incandescent globes with energy saving globes and while they’re at it they’ll also replace your shower head – for free! I’ve pleased to report that I’ve had mine replaced and the water pressure is A-OK.

What’s the catch?
There are some T&Cs associated with the switch – you need to have at least 10 globes to replace, otherwise there’s a call out fee, and if you wanted a different type of globe than the standard refit, it’s a few dollars extra. But, still very low overheads considering they will come to your door and refit you out. The shower head though? This one’s on them! It’s all part of the VEET – Victorian Energy Efficiency Target – scheme, so do your state proud and feel like a responsible citizen while you’re at it.

All kitted out with globe and shower head to boot? Pay it forward, recommend the scheme and make the switch today!