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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!

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Day 22

Happy World Environment Day!

This year you can really celebrate the day in style knowing that you’re making the change and doing your very best for our incredible environment. MJ and I salute you!!

Today’s challenge is super simple:
* Wish someone a Happy World Environment Day and mention that you’re doing the Zero Waste Challenge *
I promise I’m not saying this is a sneaky or creepy ‘join the cult’ kind of way. Part of the challenge of caring for the environment can also mean being an advocate for it and potentially addressing people who don’t, or don’t always show, that they care. If you’ve ever been frustrated by behaviour that seems distinctly un-environmental, you might have wondered how to address it in a non confrontational/preachy kind of way. Your friend/family member/co-worker might also have wondered if their behaviour is un-environmental but don’t want to bring it up or ask you because they:

a. Don’t know what else to do
b. Don’t want to look stupid
c. Don’t want to incur your eternal wrath
d. Don’t want to get you started

If you can open up a conversation in a very light way that inspires curiosity, then you can have a chance to have a discussion about an issue that does not directly challenge someone’s behaviour but invites them to find out about an alternative. You can mention your pledges, things that you’ve learnt along the way, behaviours that you’ve changed, initiatives that you’re keen to explore.

You can tailor your discussion to aspects that you might have noticed about their behaviour, but please, be discreet and respectful about it! People tend to be pretty resistant to shaming, so keep the discussion general and make it about you. If you say how you’ve given up using plastic bags and that’s been hard but x y z is how you’re making it work and you’re so content because your actions now align with your values, the other person is much more likely to enter the discussion or at least go away and think about it privately than if you say ‘I’ve noticed you’re still using petroleum laden plastic bags – how do you sleep at night?’ N to the 0.
The other thing that might happen is they might not say anything about it and that’s ok. Just putting the concept out there is enough – the rule of seven says that it takes people at least seven times to hear about an idea before they start to take notice of it, so you might be the first person who’s ever mentioned the zero waste challenge. Here’s hoping you won’t be the last – so log out of here and go spread the word on waste!

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Day 8

Welcome to Day 8 and congratulations on having completed your first week of the Zero Waste Challenge! How have you been going with your pledges? What was the most interesting or challenging thing you learnt about during our focus on food waste?

Here’s my pledge report:

Pledge 1
I’m proud to report that I have not so much as looked at a chocolate bar this week-why? Just been too busy working on the Zero Waste Challenge!

Pledge 2
I haven’t done as well on the home cooking front – for the same reason above! – but I have made a huge batch of cereal from scratch, so that’s my breakfast for the week sorted, and I also made a couple of rounds of bliss balls to take to friends’ dinners – now I’ve just got to make a batch for myself and I’ll have my daily work snack set!

Pledge 3
I’m really pleased to have found a great site which details what items can be recycled in Victoria -win! http://
http://www.getitrightbinnight.vic.gov.au

There’s more aspects of food waste I’d like to explore with you, but for now let’s put our plates aside and move onto an issue that, judging from your introductory surveys, plays on your minds and also in your bins. I’m talking about:

– single use plastics –

What are single use plastics?

Single use plastics are plastic items that have been designed to be used for a few minutes and then thrown away, most commonly disposable items from stores, take away shops, parties or work functions. It’s one of the simplest things that we can change, but also can be the most difficult. Why?

In short, habit. We are in the habit of accepting these items and throwing them away, because it easy, convenient and it doesn’t cost us anything – and one of the single use plastics that we use most often is plastic bags.

How do I stop using plastic bags?

1. Start by reducing your need for bags to put your rubbish in, which means reducing your waste – tick!

2. Get yourself a handy tote bag or backpack to use as a replacement for shopping bags. You’ll want to consider the materials that your replacement bag is made of, but for the time being, before going out and purchasing anything, just use whatever you have got at home. Panniers are a great way to transport shopping on a bike.

3. Take 80% of your existing plastic bags from your home and put them in the plastic bag recycling box at Coles and Woolworths. Chances are you won’t miss them and if you do find you’re running low, just go grab some out of the bag recycle box next time you’re passing. You want to reduce your dependence on the bags and the normality of having them accessible in your house.

4. Always carry a couple of small bags to use in the moments where you buy items unexpectedly. If that happens to be at a supermarket and you’re out of bags, just grab one from the recycle box.

Want to find out more? The documentary of the week is Bag It: http://www.bagitmovie.com/index.html

See you tomorrow!

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Day 2

compost

Welcome back!

You might be interested to know that in this group of Enviro Champs there is actually very little food waste in your collective bin audits, so a huge shout out to you! For those participants who do have a little food lurking in their bin bag, let’s get it out of landfill and into the earth. I’m talking about:

                                                               ~ Compost ~

Over half of all Australians compost, so come on down! You might be surprised at what you can and can’t compost, even if you have an existing compost bin, so take a look at the list of compostable and non compostable items on the Clean Up Australia website. It explains how to make a compost that doesn’t smell or attract flies (been there, done that) and includes an Environmental Impact fact sheet that details the environmental effects of organic waste and the benefits of composting.

 

Why do you do it?

Apart from the obvious choice of being eco-friendly, I do it because I’ve lived in several sharehouses where there has been a compost bin in the garden, so now it’s become a habit. Throwing food in the bin just feels wrong, like putting recyclables in a general waste bin.  By creating a habit it becomes second nature, and you don’t need to be convinced or motivated, you just do it. Other advantages that I’ve discovered are that without food waste my rubbish bin never smells, I don’t have to clean the inside of the bin and my bag never leaks when I transport the rubbish to the bin for collection.

What if I don’t have a garden?

Since I recently moved into a small flat, it has become more challenging, because I no longer have a compost bin or a garden to put scraps directly into. I do have a friend who lives nearby and is happy for me to wander into their backyard and add to their compost, so I’ve just re-purposed an ice cream tub and drop it off weekly when I ride home from work. It’s easy, it’s on my way home, I don’t have to change my routine to make it work and if I’m lucky I get to see my friend and talk compost. Win!

What are my options?

If you’re in the market for a compost bin, even if you don’t have a garden there are still quite a few options available, including the Australian made urban composter that purports to compost meat and dairy. Take a look at the options listed on the Compost Revolution site. They’re currently offering a 70% discount off composting products to Hume residents and they’ll be featuring on the War on Waste three part series (starting tonight at 8:30pm on ABC).

If you’re a Moreland resident you can get a 25% discount on their products, or you can also take your compost to a community composting hub:  by signing up to Moreland City Council’s composting hub initiative, you also get a free compost caddy to transport your compost there – not encouraging you to acquire it if you don’t already have a similar container you could repurpose, just mentioning that it’s out there in case it meets your needs.

I should add that I am in no way affiliated with any of these initiatives, just passing on the information. I’m sure that some of the participants who are seasoned composters would have recommendations regarding the different types of composting available, too.

I already compost – what now?

How about recommending a bin or making a sample tub for a friend, family member, or your workplace? This is a fun way to get people to try composting at no cost or effort to them. Make it user friendly by clearly labelling what goes in, adding some dry leaves or scrap paper to soak up any compost juice so it doesn’t leak when you transport it, and empty it regularly – I empty mine once a week. You want your compost bin to stay clean and fresh so that people enjoy using it.

compost instructions

Pro tip: protect your lovely signs or they’ll get grubby with all the food going into the tub – I used old plastic pockets to cover mine and so far they are working a treat!

Alternatively, if there’s no community composting hub in your area and you think there’s a need for one, how about identifying some unused land in your neighbourhood and applying to your council to start one up?

That’s it for today’s compost challenge. I hope you got some new compost ideas or freshened up old ones, and for all the compost champions out there, feel free to share your expertise below!

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Day 1

wrappers

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!