Day 1


Welcome to Day 1 of the Zero Waste Challenge! I’m really excited to have you on board and hope that we can all make a lot of positive changes over the next 30 days.

As it’s our first day, I’d like you to consider the following pledges for the duration of the challenge:

  1. I will give up one wasteful habit
  2. I will reduce one wasteful habit
  3. I will find out more information about one aspect of waste

Of course, I’ll be giving you tips daily on how to reduce your waste, but you might find it helpful to have a set focus from the very beginning to see where you can make the most impact on your waste reduction. You might already have something in mind, but if you needs some ideas, check over your bin audit or your questionnaire responses.

To start us off, I’d like to share my pledges:

  1. I will give up chocolate bars.
  2. I will reduce the amount of take away I buy by half.
  3. I will find out more information about what products can be recycled.

Let’s unpack how I came to these three:

  1. I will give up chocolate bars.

The problem

When I did my own bin audit, I was shocked to see that almost half of my rubbish consisted of chocolate bar wrappers. It has become a habit to ‘treat’ myself to a chocolate bar or two every day, even though it’s odds with the way I eat and shop the rest of the time. I’m anti packaging, but I make an allowance for myself when it comes to chocolate. Why is this?

In Les Robinson’s book, Changeology, he describes behaviour change as being separate from attitudinal change. Our attitudes do not determine our behaviour, and the reasons behind our behaviour are often emotional and not rational. In order to change our behaviour, it’s important to understand it.

Why chocolate?

When I was growing up, chocolate was never freely available in my house and it was something I rarely purchased because I didn’t have the money. Now that I’m an adult, the moment of purchasing chocolate for myself still gives me a tiny thrill because it feels like a treat and a small rebellion at the same time. I feel like I’m making my own decisions, no matter how poor, about what I want to eat. It makes me feel free and in control, despite the fact that being addicted to sugar – and the habit of buying sugary treats – means I’m neither free nor in control!

The solution

Let’s consider the easiest option. I know that anytime I go into a supermarket,  I will have to battle the urge to buy one of those shiny items for just $1 on special, fulfilling my needs for pleasure, novelty and getting a bargain, so rather than challenging my willpower, I’m going to change my path.  I’ll avoid going into supermarkets and do my shopping at fruit stores, organic stores and bulk stores.

As a longer term measure I’m going to think about what areas of my life give me freedom, control, pleasure and novelty, since these are values I’ve identified that are important to me.

I’m also interested how I can reverse my positive association with chocolate bars so that I’m not tempted to buy them in the longer term.

  1. I will reduce the amount of take away I buy by half.

The problem

I don’t enjoy cooking. I don’t have much space to cook, I’m not a good cook, I find it expensive to buy all the ingredients and when I do cook it takes ages and the results don’t seem to justify the time and effort I put into it. So, I prefer to just buy take away when I’m at work during the week, and sometimes for dinner too.

The thing with buying take away is that it’s always a struggle between myself and the cashier to order food without packaging. Even when I come prepared with my own plate or request no straw with a drink, often down the chain my meal will end up with the exact item I insisted I did not need.

Why take away?

When it comes to dinner, I’ve identified a need for novelty which eating different types of take away food fulfills. If I didn’t have that, surely I would get bored?

I also believe that take away saves me time and money, depending on how cheaply I purchase the meal, how fast it is prepared or how close it is to my work, but often these practical reasons don’t make sense when I really examine them. I often spend my whole lunch break walking to a particular store, deciding on a meal, queuing, waiting for my meal to be prepared, walking to a sunny patch of lawn, and then eating it as quickly as possible before I have to walk back to work. If I had my own lunch with me, I could spend the majority of my lunch break actually having lunch and enjoying my break.

The solution

What I’ve realised is that what I want most in my lunch during the week is something that is quick, and the quickest option is actually bringing my own lunch. I just need to make the time to prepare it at home. With time and practice, my cooking time should also decrease. The cost of the meal is secondary.

The solution to seeking novelty in my takeaway dinners is: learn to cook better so that my own cooking excites me. I can’t even imagine this becoming a reality, as I’ve tried and failed to get interested in cooking so many times, but for this challenge I’m going to give it a go.

  1. I will find out more information about what products can be recycled.

Disclaimer: I do realise that recycling is not the end goal of zero waste – more on that in a later post – but in the instances when I (or my friends or family) have a product which needs to be recycled, I’d like to know the facts. This is not only so that I know what’s right, but also so I can advise others how to make the right choice. When you’re seen as being an environmental go-to, you want to be informed.

Examples: How grubby do disposables have to be before you can’t recycle them? If recycled products are mixed with non recyclable products, can they still be recycled? And what about all those numbers on the bottom of single use plastics?

Go forth!

This brings us to the end of day 1! As specified in the Ground Rules, I don’t expect you to write a lengthy response or even necessarily write a response at all, but if you’d like to comment, share your pledges or talk through any of the emotional reasoning or challenges that your pledge brings up, then feel free! This is a supportive community that might just have the answers to your questions or the solutions to your problems.

Here’s to the next 30 days of zero waste!


2 thoughts on “Day 1

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