Zero Waste- 1 year on…

  
I don’t remember the exact date of when I officially went “zero waste”, but it would have been about March- April 2015. A lot of things have happened in the time, with a lot of frustrations along the way. I’m happy to say that I’ve come to that point where I’m content with how things are, and that living with minimal waste has become much easier- mainly because things are on auto pilot nowadays!

I am happy to put behind me those days of sweaty, frantic searching for elusive bulk-stores, and the even more elusive delicatessen who would provide me with plastic free cheese. Finding new places to buy things in bulk is still a triumph and I still get a thrill from it, but it certainly no longer fills my head space as much as it used to. I obsess about it a lot less because it’s become more of a way of life for me. I don’t post on Instagram as much as I used to, mainly because the every day nitty gritty now “just happens”, and no longer requires a proclamation of victory to social media 😉 

Now- here is my 12-months ago former self interviewing my current self:

1. What were the hardest things about going zero waste initially?

– For me, it was really laying down the ground work so that I could one day live that life without thinking too hard about it. Originally I used to spend a lot of time researching possible “leads” and driving to these places to set up my own network of places that I could grocery shop at. Finding a deli that would give me cheese in my own container; a butcher who tares my container with finesse; a bulk store that sells body care products; loose eggs/ vendors who would accept old egg cartons back; a fish monger who wasn’t rude about it; a “local” bulk store for everyday items and top ups; a “specialty” bulk store that was further away with harder to find items to stock up with on a 1-2 monthly basis. However once these places were established and tried and tested, things became infinitely easier as the flow had been established in our lives 

2. How did your friends/ family react?

Everyone I knew took it surprisingly well. It ranged from people misinterpreting me bringing my own containers and straws to family dinners as “super organised”, to friends being inspired enough to try and implement some measures in their own lives to reduce their own waste. My partner was on board from the beginning and was very supportive, although sometimes he would just ask “can’t we just get this now in plastic as opposed to driving across town next week to get it unpackaged?” The main effect from me going zero waste was that it started that conversation, it inspired people around me to re assess the amount of daily waste they generated, and if that meant even just one less coffee cup or plastic bag- so be it! I never broadcasted it or pushed my agenda onto people. Some times if I was with people I didn’t know very well I would shy away from producing my own straw at restaurants and would stick to drinking tap water (which is much better for you and the environment anyway!)

3. You must have changed so many habits over the last year- which is your favourite?

I’ve always been a bit of a fashionista and impulse- shopper, and trying to reduce my waste has forced me to be more mindful towards everything that I consume, this includes fashion. I reduced my wardrobe (still a work in progress!), and really re-assessed my own personal style. I started buying more second hand clothes (both from thrift shops and eBay), and have really enjoyed the process. I get complimented a lot on things that I’m wearing, and people are always so surprised when I say that I found them in a second hand store! Everything I buy now is bought with longevity in mind- good quality clothes made of natural fibres in classic styles that won’t date, that have to fit perfectly otherwise I won’t buy it. A friend asked me today if I ever intended to get rid of or sell any of the handbags I have currently- I replied that I plan to keep them for the rest of my life 🙂 I dress better now than I did 5 years ago when I would try out every new season colour and trend, I know my own personal style and what works for my body. When I get the “itch” to shop nowadays I just shop my closet- meaning I’ll have a look in there first and see what new outfits I can create.

4. What did you not expect to happen by going zero waste?

The weight loss- in all honesty I’ve lost about 15-17 kg so far (don’t plan on losing any more!)- and this has arisen from eating more whole foods, less packaged junk, making things from scratch and being able to control what goes in them. Because a lot more effort goes into buying meat, fish and cheese unpackaged, I ended up eating a lot more vegetables (out of sheer laziness). Frequenting farmers markets would connect me with the growers and the food, and I would get excited about the prospect of making meals at home, and planning our meals in advance- avoiding the inevitable work week takeaway run!

5. Favourite item to buy in bulk/ unpackaged?

Tofu! From an Asian grocery store- too much fun 🙂 That, and finding a place that refills essential oils.

6. Any tips for the newbies?

Don’t be put off or discouraged. You don’t need to live in an austere white sanctuary with perfectly matching mason jars filled with grains. You don’t need to be perfect- if it’s one less plastic bag or disposable coffee cup- that’s great! It’s a start. Entry level things to try:

  • Get a reuseable drink bottle (stainless steel is great) keep it filled and in the fridge, grab it when you head out. Rinse and repeat. And no- you don’t have to have a beautiful Klean Kanteen or S’well bottle- any old thing will do. My first bottle came from a camping store!
  • Bring a reuseable shopping tote no matter where you go- I always try to have one rolled up in my handbag, as I never know when I may need it. And using reuseable shopping bags isn’t just confined to grocery shopping- I routinely bring my tote to stores (even when buying new stuff), and have never received a negative comment about it
  • If you’re a coffee drinker- either make a ritual out of it and take the time to sit down in a cafe, otherwise bring a reusable coffee cup. I prefer Keep Cups, because they’re light and transport well, easy to drink from, and come in barista standard sizes which makes their job slightly easier. They’re also an Australian company, so I’m biased 😉 Others have had some luck with bringing a standard mason jar with them, some have even knitted a cosy to keep their hands from burning!
  • Find a composting solution- I didn’t realise that my council provided fort nightly green waste pick up until I enquired about it. Others have a compost bin or pile in the back yard, a worm bin, or bokashi system (which I’m using currently). Another option is that some local farmers markets and community gardens accept organic waste scraps- I freeze my scraps and make a trip once every 2-3 weeks
  • Consider the product life cycle. Every time I purchase something I think- how long will it last for? What will i do with the scraps (if it’s food). How will I dispose of the product at the end of it’s cycle? Do I really need it? Can I buy it second hand, or borrow it? Is the packaging easily recyclable?
  • Research some bulk stores in your area- the Bulk App has been a life saver for everyone. I don’t think bulk stores are an essential but it does make things a lot nicer if you have access to a couple
  • Buy fruit and veggies unpackaged, and divorce the big chain supermarkets. Options include farmers markets, organic veggie box deliveries, local grocers. Bring some reuseable produce bags (make or buy some), or you can reuse plastic bags that you already have, netting from onion bags, paper mushroom bags etc. Most fruit and veg don’t need to be corralled in a bag anyway. Use your hands even 😄
  • Make something from scratch– there are so many fun recipes to try when you go zero waste! Try making toothpaste, hummus, bread, jam, nut milk, anything- with unpackaged ingredients. There will be failures, but that’s part of the fun. Plus you can then use the hash tag #zerowastefail
  • Try something that weirds you out. For some people this can include reuseable menstrual products, washable toilet paper or bidet, using handkerchiefs. You’ll be surprised at what ends up sticking as a habit!
  • Set goals for yourself- I used to keep a list on my phone of zero waste – related things I’d like to do. Things like “make produce bags”, “buy some bigger jars”, “get kombucha SCOBY”, “make beeswax wraps”- kept things interested and goal- oriented 
  • Look to reducing your waste in other areas. I started showering over a bucket and using that water to flush the toilet to conserve water. We looked into getting a solar power panel. My main mode of transport is my legs (walking!) and the tram on occasion. Reduce food wastage by not buying more than you need and ensuring everything gets gobbled up before buying more. Say no to freebies. Reduce how much you recycle by reducing the use of packaging in the first place.

7. What has the zero waste lifestyle taught you?

It has taught me to be more mindful, and also to be more thankful- everyday I wake up and am eternally grateful that I have access to fresh food and water, and that it is the earth we live on that provides life’s necessities. I am no longer a mindless consumer hypnotised by the big companies- I can say no and make better, more ethical choices. I am less selfish- I now view myself as a citizen of the world and that i must do my part to protect the world that we live in.

8. What is your next zero waste goal?

My next goal is taking this juggernaut past the pretty pictures on Instagram and taking it to the streets- namely, being a more active zero waste advocate. I write emails to companies and councils about ideas I have to improve their waste management strategies- for example I am currently trying to implement a pen recycling station at my hospital in conjunction with Terracycle, with the next step being to involve Officeworks (a big stationary retailer in Australia) to add pen recycling as an option, alongside taking back batteries and spent printer cartridges. Wish me luck!
Lisa x

Fight the good fight: Why you need to stop shopping at supermarkets

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  Sundays are definitely my favourite day of the week. Saturdays are for running errands and getting sweaty. Sundays are for slowing down and tasty food (for me anyway!). If I’m on call on the weekend I would usually start my ward rounds at the crack of dawn on Saturdays (hello, 6-6:30am starts!), but Sundays were always for a slightly slower morning (to the relief of my residents)- a 7:30am ward round start-time is a luxury- and we’d always make time for a coffee and a sanity-saving chat. But I digress.

  My favourite Sunday routine is to have nothing exciting planned. I still wake up early (6-7am), and always try to hit up the farmer’s market at a reasonable time. Friday/ Saturday is when we plan our meals for the week, so I try to get the majority of our fresh produce at the market (it’s cheaper and lasts ages), with a top-up shop as needed later in the week. I’m usually at a barre class before the market, but now that it’s getting hotter Down Under I’m trying to get to the market at opening time while it’s cooler, and off to barre class straight after.

  I usually bring my straw basket and a large square tote if I’m on my own. I’ll drag along my partner if we have a bigger shop and need the “granny trolley” as well :). I also always have a selection of cloth bags to put more fragile produce in, and usually bring rubber bands and egg carton trays back to the stall holder to re-use. We used to also bring a couple of glass Pyrex containers for tasty fried Indian snacks for our market breakfast but have stopped doing that now in our efforts to consistently eat better.

  The farmers market I go to almost every week is by far my favourite: Farm Direct Markets S.A (Lightsview). I love the ethos behind it (created to help smaller farmers/ producers stay on the land, who otherwise would not have much of an income as the bigger chain supermarkets will usually pass them over), the people who run it and the sense of community it has created. I love that it’s smaller and less “pushy” and pretentious compared with the other markets in Adelaide, and I actually feel relaxed while shopping there. The stall holders know me now and always ask where “hubby” is if he’s not there. I especially love that the chain of markets have opened up in the more socially disadvantaged areas of Adelaide- to be able to provide all people an opportunity to eat fresh, cheap local produce can only be a good thing, not just for now but for the generations to come. For too long the big supermarkets have dictated that it is only the “rich” who can afford to eat fresh healthy produce, and many people ask me, “isn’t eating healthy just for wealthy people?” I dare say it’s not, but when the big supermarkets jack up the prices on cold-stored produce that lasts 2 days in the fridge, and continually slash prices on Coke and chips, and you only have a limited food budget for the week- it comes as no surprise that being reliant on nutritionally- poor food is a reality for most people.

  Our average weekly fresh produce shop at the market usually costs us about $25- give or take a few dollars. $10 on top of that every fortnight for a tray of free-range eggs. This is for 2 adults and 1 hungry rabbit. This makes up the bulk of 3 main meals a day and snacks in the fridge, as well as fresh fruit. This leaves us plenty of money for top up things like bulk grains and nuts, meat and fish for the week (and any top up fresh produce) and stay within budget. The healthier we have chosen to eat, the less we are actually spending on food during the week- we’re eating more seasonally, eating less grains, we’re not spending money on junk food.

  It’s also fun to eat seasonally- as opposed to expecting that all fruits and veggies are available all year round, you get used to looking forward to and celebrating produce as it comes in season. I have sadly said goodbye to oranges and mandarins now, but today welcomed my first bite of a yellow nectarine, and could not stop sniffing new season garlic fresh from the Riverland- still encrusted with dirt 🙂 I’m a firm believer in finding joy in the simple things, and re-discovering Farmers Markets have reinforced that.

Why you need to break up with supermarkets (i.e. the DUOPOLY/ “Colworths”)

  1. Produce is fresher at the markets, you can often buy direct from the producer, and it’s in season. Yes, sometimes the food looks imperfect and not as shiny- but that’s what food looks like out of the ground. At supermarkets they continually reject perfectly good produce based on looks alone- which means a lot of food goes to waste, or that smaller farms aren’t able to meet the “attractive quota” of vegetables- there are stories of small farmers running their produce into the ground because they are not good enough. This needs to end. Also sometimes the “fresh” fruit and veg sit around in cold storage for months on end- so you are paying for the storage of your produce- Why not buy direct from the farmer and store it in your own fridge for cheaper?
  2. Shopping at farmer’s markets puts the money in the right pockets- the farmers. The supermarkets are renowned for starting pricing wars with each other, and in the end it is the farmers who are bearing the brunt of the advertised low prices. When you look at some cases- the farmers are almost being blackmailed into giving their produce away for free to the supermarkets, under the fear that if they say no to unreasonable demands- their contracts will be dropped. For example- Woolworths have a campaign with Jamie Oliver. Where did the “extra” money come from to fly the big guy over for some token media appearances and print his face on sauce bottles? The already struggling Aussie farmers- They were “told” to make a “voluntary contribution” for each pallet of produce (under threat of being dropped)- what choice did they have? They paid for it. Jamie Oliver turned up and waved asparagus in our faces. Woolworths became richer.
  3. It makes environmental sense. Eating local produce that hasn’t been cold stored means that you don’t have the issue of food being shipped halfway around the world just so you can eat grapes in the dead of winter. The majority of produce at farmers markets are unpackaged, and if you bring your own produce bags- it’s a win- win.
  4. It connects you with the food that you put in your body. Buying at the market means you can see, touch, smell your food. You can talk to the person who grew your food. You start to celebrate fresh fruit and veg for what they are, you start getting inspired to try things you’ve never had before- because it just looks so good. I don’t think you can develop that relationship with food by buying packaged produce at the supermarket- when it’s wrapped in layers of plastic and styrofoam and curiously doesn’t *smell* like anything- alarm bells go off. Sure it’s clean and sterile, but you know- you could always just *wash* your veggies!
  5. Teach your children about fresh fruit and vegetables. It is a disturbing trend nowadays that a lot of children don’t know where food comes from, that someone has grown it so they could eat it and grow up healthy and strong. Taking them to the markets will hopefully lead to them begging you for a peach or watermelon, as opposed to nagging you at the check out for a chocolate bar filled with sugar and chemicals. Exposing them to the purchase and preparation of fresh produce will hold them in good stead for life. And with the alarming statistics on childhood and adult obesity nowadays- I challenge you to pick a hole in this argument.
  6. You will be healthier. Eating seasonally means you get the maximal nutrients and minerals that your body thrives on. As above, being exposed to fresh food all the time will inspire you to eat better. I never leave the farmers market wanting to go out and eat hot chips, mainly because my mind is obsessed with the idea of how best to prepare the two eggplants I just bought.
  7. Vote with your dollars– every time you spend money you are voting for the kind of world you and your children want to live in. Giving the big corporation supermarkets all of your money every week is saying: “I want fresh produce to be more expensive, less fresh and seasonal, less variety, less accessible for everyone”; “I want the Australian fresh food industry to collapse as farming becomes less financially sustainable, thus converting a previously self-sustaining country into one that is reliant on imported produce to feed itself, thus opening itself to severe food shortages in international trading were to cease”. If you want your children to grow up in a country with decreasing food security then by all means- keep buying the majority of your food from the supermarket. My number one choice is farmers markets, and if I’m unable to get there for whatever reason I choose to shop at my local greengrocers- who will run round the back to grab some carrot tops for the rabbit, or ply me with tasty snacks and free coffee. Really- I have no reason to shop elsewhere.
  8. Bring back the sense of community. As time goes on, we are all becoming more detached from each other, from our food, and from our environment. Waking up early on a Sunday morning, and braving the elements touching food with dirt still on it- It grounds and connects you. Seeing the same familiar friendly faces each week and having nice chats with strangers- bliss. Having that sense that you are a part of something bigger than just yourself- that you are supporting the Australian farming industry, that all the people here are working together on the same cause- keeping fresh local produce in our lives- it’s a feeling that can’t be beat. If you can find that feeling vacuum sealed in styrofoam at your supermarket then hats off to you 😉

There are probably a hundred more reasons to ditch the supermarkets but this is all I can come up with at the moment with my tired brain 🙂 As a side note, when I *do* shop at a supermarket I shop at IGA/ Foodland- there is more of an emphasis on local produce and they are geared towards competing with “The Big 2”- Can’t say fairer than that.

p.s. When I refer to a duopoly or “The Big 2” I refer to the fact that the Australian fresh food industry is dominated by 2 major chain supermarkets- Coles and Woolworths. They probably have at least 80% of the market, and it is amazing how this has been allowed to happen. The effect of this is they can dictate prices, they have price wars with each other, and are renowned for shortchanging fruit and veg growers and dairy farmers. Just. Say. No.

p.p.s. If you live in Adelaide- please check out Farm Direct Markets S.A. and support them. Little markets with a lot of heart and soul and the best of intentions. They run from 8am- 1pm on Wednesdays (Old Spot Hotel 1955 Main North Road, Salisbury), Saturdays (Old Spot Hotel), Sundays (Lightsview (Corner Folland Ave and Cityview Boulevard, Northgate); and Gawler (485 Main North Road Evanston)), with plans to expand to new sites as council approvals progress. If you don’t live in Adelaide and don’t currently shop at a farmers market- look one up, show up, and support!

Keep fighting the good fight,

Lisa xx

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Zero Waste Etiquette

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There are a few unwritten etiquette rules that I feel *should* be written down- In the hopes that it would make this lifestyle a bit easier to navigate.

  1. Be respectful of bulk bins

Every time I found a new bulk place I danced with joy- spying a couple of open sacks of grain or a couple of big tubs at the back of a random store really made my day. What doesn’t make my day is seeing the way some people behave around bulk bins. I’ve seen bin lids left open/ left off and scoops not replaced properly or wiped as per the store’s policy. My pet peeve- watching people use the bulk bins as their free-for-all snack trough. I’m sure you’ve seen this- Adults reaching in to bulk bins to pull out handfuls of lollies and nuts without even using the provided scoops. Adults encouraging their young children to reach in and grope around the mixed lolly bulk bin with their hands and put them directly into their mouths. One woman putting her handbag on an open sack of mung beans so she could tie her shoelaces- really?! The main gripe that non-zero waste people have with bulk bins are that they are dirty- and I totally understand. After seeing this behaviour in action myself I do sometimes get squeamish with bulk bins- thank goodness I have an iron stomach and have no dietary intolerances. I’m the one you see wandering around Goodies and Grains tut-tutting and closing all the bulk bins that have been left open.

I am however rather non-confrontational in public spaces, so as yet have not worked up the courage to call someone out  on their bad behaviour around my beloved bulk bins. I get upset because this is where my food comes from- it’s not a store prop or novelty for me. Bulk places are scarce enough, to have people dirty your restricted food sources does hurt my feelings. It’s like as if I wandered into someone’s bomb shelter, opened their cans of baked beans and stuck my hands inside all the cans and swirled them around. And tasted some. Ok, not as dramatic, but similar nonetheless.

The other reason to be respectful and tidy is that it means you respect the businesses that support bulk bins- It is extra work for them, and they have to do more cleaning to ensure they maintain hygiene standards. If people are sloppy, make messes, contaminate entire bins, they may be less inclined to maintain their bulk shopping system. And it doesn’t just affect zero-wasters, it affects everyone as whole. We want to be creating more and more opportunities for bulk shopping for “newbies”, not make it less accessible/ off-putting due to contamination concerns

2. Keep your containers clean

A local business once told me that the reason they stopped accepting people’s own containers were because people were handing over *dirty* containers- think containers with no lids for wet goods, unclean containers with all manner of stuff stuck on them. Due to health and safety concerns (risk of contamination of their food prep sites) they were forced to implement a rule that they could not accept containers anymore, which is really disappointing. Again- bringing clean containers to a business is a mark of respect for them. I make sure my containers are clean with secure lids, and I carry my KeepCup in a home made bento bag to keep dust and fluff out of it. It’s about supporting the businesses who support us 🙂

3. Wear lipstick

You can take this one with a grain of salt. If I know that I’m going to approach a cheese or deli counter, or a new butcher/ fishmonger peddling my containers, I do make sure that I look a bit put together- I leave my glasses off, I leave the RBF (Resting Bitch Face) at home, and I put some lippy on and smile- I’ve realised that the times when I showed up sweaty with messy hair and smelling like Hulk Hogan’s gym sock- 9 times out of 10 I was knocked back. Is it sexist? Maybe- not to me. It’s like turning up to an important job interview- you wouldn’t turn up looking unkempt and scattered, would you? Exude success! It’s like how Bea Johnson would have her way of acting super casual at cheese counters, waving at items, like she’s done this forever and it’s the norm- it does work! Once you start mumbling and fumbling it’s pretty much game over. If you say loud and clear: “Can you put this container on the scale and either tare or zero it, and weigh me out 500g of mince with no plastic bag please”, you’ll have more success I’ve found. But it does take practice.

4. Accept gracious defeat

Sometimes, despite your best winning smile and interpretative “how to zero containers” dance, they will say no. Be polite and thank them for their trouble. If it’s too late and they’ve already gotten confused and put my items in a plastic bag I’ll take it rather than risk it being thrown out (and wash and recycle the plastic bag at home). Your options are to slink home and never ever try again, or work up the courage to sidle in again on a different day (I’m looking at you, Frewville Foodland!

5. Praise, support, promote

I feel strongly about this. When I shop at businesses that support and share my values, I make it known to them. I always thank them for letting me use my containers, because I know it is more effort for them to tare and subtract weights. I support them by holding out or going without an item until I can get back in to shop with them, rather than go 5 minutes down the road to pick something up at the supermarket. I tell anyone who will listen about them, I blog and Instagram about them.

Now get out there and zero-waste like the gracious Southern Belle you are 😉

Lisa xx

Let’s Go Shopping! Part 2

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Still staying in the vicinity of the Adelaide Central Market (a treasure trove, albeit sometimes stressful during the market’s busy hours), there are a few other places to peruse.

THE HONEY SHOPPE AND SOAPBOX

Shop 20, Central Market Arcade, Adelaide 5000

A hidden gem: a natural and unpackaged beauty and personal care mecca

What you can find: Row upon row of beautiful unpackaged vegetable and olive oil based soaps in all their glory- bring a reuseable bag/ container for your goodies, bring your best sniffing nose to smell all the luscious smells 😉 . An amazing array of bulk soaps, conditioners, hand wash, body wash, dishwashing and laundry detergents- you name it, they’ve got it- I’m pretty sure I spied borax and washing soda in bulk the last time I was there (an upcoming project is home made dishwashing tablets- stay tuned!) Interesting things that I thought would be difficult to find in bulk: beeswax, clays, shea and cocoa butter. Honey (of course), bulk teas and herbs, and the piece de resistance: every essential oil known to man (both pre packed and in bulk). They’re happy to refill essential oils if you bring your own bottle and know the volume (they also sell a great array of amber glass bottles in lots of different sizes behind the counter). This place isn’t self-serve though, so flag down one of the guys to give you a hand before you get too bulk- happy.

Pros: 

  • Central location
  • A gob smacking array of goodies to tempt you into embarking into your next d.i.y project: moisturiser, hand sanitiser, washing powder, face masks…
  • So much fun to just browse- Every time I’ve been I’ve found something new and exciting in bulk

Cons:

  • Can get very squishy, especially during lunch hours. Be prepared to be elbowed out of the soap section by a couple of angry businessmen who are intent on buying some castille soap so that their “skin can be silky smooth and soft” (true story)
  • A lot of the tubs are ground level, so some crouching and balancing may be required to get at the good stuff
  • The staff are usually run off their feet so service can be quite slow, but I just amuse myself by smelling/ groping some pretty soap whilst waiting :). Because they’re under the pump they *will* wrap up your purchases very quickly in paper/ plastic bags unless you gesticulate wildly with both hands (and one leg) that you have your own container/ bag.

GO VITA

Shop 21 Central Market Arcade, Adelaide SA 5000

When you’re done with ogling and getting in everyone’s way at the Honey and Soapbox Shoppe, wander next door for a stress free bulk shopping experience.

What you can find:

Go Vita is an Australian-wide franchise of health food stores. To date this is the only one I’ve found in Adelaide that does bulk foods (I haven’t visited the Glenelg branch yet so happy to be proven wrong). You can sign up for their Good Health Club Card which entitles you to discounts (up to 21% off on the first Tuesday of the month). They do a great range of bulk foods (although small) with lots of tempting snacks (like chick pea chips- my favourite!) and dried fruit. Healthy add-ons like psyllium husk buckwheat groats can be found here. My favourite part is the back of the store, where you can buy protein powders in bulk. This place is definitely under-represented in the bulk shopping world with not as much “social media noise” as they should deserve!

Pros:

  • Truth: I find most bulk shopping stressful. This is the least stressful bulk shopping experience I’ve had to date- The bulk bins are at elbow level with clean scoops, everything is well maintained and set out, no bending over/ crouching is required, no strangers will brush past your bottom here. You also don’t feel rushed so you can take your time serenely filling your glass jars. Bliss.
  • The ladies who run it are absolutely lovely and they obviously attract regular customers. Stop by the counter on your way in and they’ll weigh up your jars for you, and they totally understand the concept of wanting to bulk shop.
  • Health-focussed, so a great place to go to to buy small quantities of weird things to try before shelling out your hard earned clams- e.g. maca powder

Cons:

  • I honestly can’t think of any, other than that I wish they were bigger and had a larger range, because I would definitely try and do most of my shopping here. They do welcome any stock recommendations though, so if there is something that you would use a lot of and would like to see it there- by all means have a chat to one of the lovely staff. I would also love to see more Go Vita stores take up the bulk shopping mantle 🙂

HOUSE OF HEALTH

Stall S73, Adelaide Central Market

If I could live in a cardboard box in the corner of this place I would- I love it so. It would get a bit squishy after a while though.

What you can find: I am surprised that I had only managed to shop here recently, owing to my own ditziness about opening times. They stock a great basic range of healthy grains, nuts, spices, muesli and flours, but where they really shine is in the stuff that can be hard to find: Here you can bring your own container and fill it up with tamari, apple cider vinegar, raw honey, hulled and unhulled tahini, molasses, maple syrup, agave nectar, and rice malt syrup- heaven for any health food zero waste nutcase (Hello!). You can buy health supplements in bulk, like beetroot powder and spirulina. They also do a lot of things in little glass jars, like bee pollen and organic Australian miso paste. Olive oil is sold for a great price too, so come fill up! The liquid bulk is not self serve though, so grab one of the staff to give you a hand (some of those bulk liquid containers need some coaxing!)

Pros:

  • Ridiculously friendly and helpful staff, know exactly what to do with your jars when you hand them over.
  • As mentioned above- amazing range
  • They have a big glass counter filled with all the tasty raw desserts you could want- raw Snickers cheesecake slice- get in my belly
  • This was the first time that I’ve bumped into someone else at a bulk store who had brought their own jar (to fill up with honey)- this shop must be doing something right! 😀

Cons:

  • Not all the bulk is self serve, so you may need to wait a bit to get someone to fill up your container for you
  • Can get a bit squishy here. (It is an unfortunate trend in Adelaide that we’re developing a “big city” mentality where people now rush around and start getting pushy in small cramped spaces)
  • I can’t think of another con. I truly do love this little place and the people who run it!
  • Actually- Their opening days are Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. My gripe is that I wish they were open every day… Forever  😉  *fangirl*

My hope is that my guides will break down any barriers to people who want to bulk shop but feel too unprepared to start. My guides have arisen out of many failed excursions and awkward jar-fumbling moments. I have suffered the humiliation so you don’t have to. The next part in this series will cover some smaller “gems” in the Adelaide Central Market area, and hopefully after that I’ll start delving into the suburbs for more “specialty” treats.

Happy jar-fumbling,

Lisa xx

Let’s go shopping! Part 1

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So this is going to be my “definitive” guide and review series to waste-free shopping options in Adelaide, and I will try and update it as time goes on to account for any changes. This list mainly includes my favourite places to shop currently, as well as a couple of recommendations from others that I have yet to try out myself (marked with *).

GOODIES AND GRAINS

Central Market Plaza, Shop 21/22 Gouger St. Adelaide, SA, 5000

This can be considered as the mothership of bulk shopping in Adelaide (That is, until The Source finally opens up in Adelaide!). They’ve been in the business for a while, and are really down with bulk shopping.

What you can find: All the usual suspects, like beans, rice, nuts, dried fruit, spices and snacks. They have a HUGE range of gluten free flour options, as well as normal flours. Hard to find items such as agar agar, skim milk powder, almond butter, epsom salts, dried yeast, wakamme, cacao nibs. They also have a liquid bulk section in the back corner, where you can fill up your own bottle (it’s sold by volume so check how big your bottle is before filling up!)- options include: olive oil, sunflower oil, local honeys, tamari, white and apple cider vinegar, rice bran oil. Reasonable range of gluten free unpackaged pasta. There are some tubs of dishwasher powder etc but these seem to be empty most times. No PLU’s here so make note/ write on your jar what you’ve bought to save time at check out. AMAZING selection of cereals and ingredients to make your own muesli/ granola. They even sell Carmen’s brand muesli in bulk!

Pros

  • Central location
  • Staff (most) will tare your containers without any trouble, they’ll write on the bottom of your jar with a marker. Just make sure that you get them to weigh your jars *before* you fill them up 🙂
  • Great selection, health focussed. Lots of other packaged items. The only place I’ve seen selling Kleen Kanteens in Adelaide
  • Tasty gluten free/ refined sugar free treats at the counter- beware the temptation 😉
  • Great smoothies, and they also have an amazing takeaway salad shop. I’ve bought a green smoothie in a mason jar with no hassle, haven’t tried bringing my own container for some salad but I’m sure it shouldn’t be a big deal
  • They label country of origin on the goods, so you can “next level” your zero waste shop by shopping for local grains and nuts
  • They’re super nice!
  • They sell jars and bottles in different sizes if you’ve forgotten your own (or underestimated how many tasty things you wanted to bring home with you)
  • They won’t print you a receipt unless you ask for it
  • If you bring your own container you get 5 cents off for each

Cons

  • It can get really busy on market days, especially around lunch time and all day Saturday. Bring guts of steel and be super organised- this is not the place to get overwhelmed or flustered with your jars
  • There is not a lot of space to manoeuvre around bulk bins. There are also no gravity feeding systems here, so they’re either in tubs or scoop bins. I have a couple of funnels that I bring with me (when I remember!) to make scooping flours/ salt/ spices easier and less messy. A lot of the bins are on ground level so some squatting may be required. Not the place to wear tight low rise jeans.
  • You *will* see people brushing up against you with fistfuls of plastic bags filled with a cup of ingredients in each. Calm the inner rage and chant “serenity now”
  • I’ve never bumped into anyone else at the same time there with their own jars. Nor has anyone ever enquired about why I use jars instead of plastic bags. Join the revolution!

Happy shopping!

Lisa x

Frequently asked questions

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  I think my cousin inadvertently interviewed me via WhatsApp a few weeks ago with lots of questions about “going zero-waste”, so I figured it would be worthwhile to put up her questions- and my answers 🙂

1.How do you buy/ store your meat and fish?

  We try and buy our meat and fish in our own containers- we have never had a problem with our 2 go-to local butchers with putting raw meat in our own glass containers (they tare it first), however have had more difficulty at the Adelaide Central Markets. Fish has been an issue until recently when we discovered two fish mongers who would happily tare our containers with no hassle. We have had some success with buying bacon and ham/ other deli meats over the counter at Foodland and Coles, as well as the Adelaide Farmer’s Market. My plan B is always to ask if they can wrap our purchases in butcher’s paper first if they feel uncomfortable with taring (we compost the paper afterwards). We *have* been caught out at times and have accepted fish etc in plastic bags, a plastic wrapped chicken at the butcher (it was all they had). If this happens we try and wash the plastic in hot soapy water and leave to dry, and then drop it off at Coles (a supermarket chain) for soft plastics recycling.

I have bought roast pork from the Asian butcher as well- to save the hassle of explaining how to tare with a language barrier, I give him a piece of parchment paper  which he weighs the selected meat on, and then chops it up for us into our container. He is a true gem, always smiles and never asks questions 🙂

The beauty of having things in your own container is that 1) It’s a much more secure way to transport food in regards to leakage, etc 2) You can just store it as is in the fridge- again no leaks or awkward plastic bags to endure, 3) As all our glass containers are oven safe (depending on what it is/ the dish is) we can use the container to prepare and pop the whole thing in the oven 4) Nothing goes to landfill (duh) and 5) You don’t get stuck washing out an icky plastic bag so that you can (hopefully) recycle it (yuck).

2 It’s not hard then?

It is hard in a way, because we have all been brought up with the convenience of single-use plastic to store / buy things in- especially food. It does require persistence and commitment. To go back to the grass roots of the shopping experience is also interesting. To buy say, a cut of meat- I would sail into Coles, pick up a pre-packaged piece of meat and sail out without having to interact with anyone (hello, automated self- check outs). Nowadays- if I know I need meat I need to plan ahead, bring a container, chat to my butcher and ask how his injured hand is going- it brings back some of the niceties of food shopping. Also- if I have gone to the trouble of getting the meat in this way, I actually appreciate it more, I am also less likely to waste it or forget about it at the back of the fridge. Also- because it requires more effort- we definitely don’t eat meat as often as we used to, which is infinitely better for the environment.

3. What about when you buy cookies and biscuits?

I’ve learnt that I make awesome chocolate chip cookies 😉 We can buy biscuits from bakeries who sell them loose- we live walking distance from a Greek patisserie who sell amazing cookies! We do miss things like Tim Tams- I think our last packet ran out sometime in March, and amazingly we haven’t bought another one. We don’t believe in depriving ourselves too much, so every now and then we “treat ourselves” with something packaged as a reward for being otherwise pretty good- Tim Tams are a “sometimes” food in more ways than one 🙂

4. Or milk… Or juice?

We can’t buy milk in glass, or glass returnable bottles in South Australia. I’ve done my research! There was one company who used to many moons ago, but switched to plastic because of the high burden. We buy milk in cartons (always have), so that hasn’t changed. I actually don’t drink a lot of cow’s milk anyway, and I have been using home made almond milk more and more. We mainly use it to make lattes, and when recipes call for it. We can buy powdered milk in bulk, condensed milk comes in a can (I haven’t gotten around to making my own from powdered milk… yet!)

Juice is also a tricky one. We don’t own an industrial juicer (I can’t justify the cost and space for a single use item), and the amount of oranges you would have to juice to come up with 1 L of juice… It’s not cost effective. Because we have cut way back on soft drink consumption, it would be pretty cruel (especially to my partner) to abruptly cut off all juice as well. We buy orange juice in a plastic bottle (it gets recycled), things like apple juice can be bought in glass. When summer comes back we’ll be able to make watermelon juice with our ancient small juicer

5. Or sugar?

We can buy all sorts of sugar in bulk (including icing sugar!), or you can always buy it in a paper bag at the supermarket.

6. What about tea bags and coffee… Or chocolate- The world’s necessities?

We are slowly phasing out tea bags (we’re both big tea drinkers), but still have a lot to get through- we’re mainly using them for guests at the moment. They’re probably one of our biggest sources of landfill waste- plastic/ nylon tea bags, stapled to a plastic tag… We have individual tea infusers, a small 2-cup pot, and a larger 4-5 cup pot for more people. We discovered the “paper” bags that our coffee was coming in were actually lined with plastic! So we’re either going to just keep reusing the coffee bag, or buy it in our own jar- The last time we tried they weighed the coffee beans in a paper bag then poured it into our jar 😦 There are some brands of chocolate that package in paper and cardboard, larger amounts of foil can be recycled, or you can buy chocolate nibbly things from bulk bins.

7. What are Bulk bins?

Bulk bins are basically large containers/ sacks/ gravity feeding contraptions filled with package free produce. Usual suspects like grains and beans, nuts, lollies, dried fruit. It’s all dependent on where you go in terms of what’s available, but it is a fun process to find new things in bulk, and also fun to see what other people find from all over the world! My favourite finds have been rice at asian grocers’, coconut roughs; wakamme; raw cacao powder and cacao nibs; icing sugar; agar agar and tofu. Others have been lucky enough to live in places with frozen food bulk bins- think frozen peas and berries! I also have a lead on a place that does nutritional yeast in bulk 🙂

8. What about Soy sauce?

Can be purchased in a glass bottle, Goodies and Grains sell tamari in bulk and you can bring your own bottle

9. Peanut butter?

Too easy- bring your own jar to places like Goodies and Grains, or Norwood Health Shop and grind your own. So much tastier, minus the extra chemicals and glue like consistency

10. What’s been the most difficult for you so far?

Crackers and chips- no bulk bin pretzel or rice cracker can replace the crunch of a good tortilla chip. Asian food is difficult- I’ll write a post on it later- but a lot of condiments come in plastic, particular kinds of rice and noodles.Yes we recycle *everything* but it’s not ideal at the end of the day, so we keep trying to find unpackaged options. Asian cuisine is the easiest, cheapest and healthiest “fast food” option for us at home, so it is our zero waste black hole currently. It’s not a static process though, and I have plans to make my own rice noodles and coconut milk (from coconut flakes bought in bulk). I don’t have any inclination to try and make rice vinegar or rice paper rolls though!

11. What’s wrong with microbeads? And how do you buy your shampoo etc

Microbeads are in a lot of body and facial cleansers and scrubs, they get washed down the drain and into our waterways. They are too small so escape all the filters in place, and fish ingest them instead of plankton. We eat fish so… Microbeads are on the menu for us. A lot of major companies still use microbeads and it’s a big problem, there are petitions out there calling to ban all microbeads. There are other companies who use all natural exfoliants, or you can easily make your own scrubs from oatmeal, coffee grounds and baking soda. I don’t have the heart to make my other half scrub his face with oatmeal yet, so he is using a natural exfoliant nowadays (instead of the Nivea/ Clean and Clear stuff that is filled with microbeads). I use solid shampoo bars from Lush (have been using them for about 3 years), but you can also buy shampoo in bulk from a lot of places. I still have lots of plastic bottled conditioner so still making my way through that. When that gets used up it will either be a solid bar, or conditioner in bulk.

Task #2: Go out and explore what your local options are in regards to bulk, unpackaged food. I will assure you that you *will* get excited about food again, and that you will start eating a bit healthier too (hopefully). They pop up in the most unexpected places- there is a small organics shop with bulk bins walking distance from my place! Also- the more you go out and explore and know what your options are, the more equipped you will be to tackle the next step- which is actually buying the stuff. You’ll need to work out how you’ll get it weighed (container tared, cotton bag, re-used paper bag, re-used plastic bag even?), how busy the place is, whether it is self serve etc.

Happy zero-wasting!

Lisa x

Bag Lady

  
Some general “stats” about recycling in Australia:
Rates range from 16% (sorry, Tasmania!) to 70% (go Adelaide!).

This (amongst other things) makes me proud to be a South Aussie. It is deemed publicly cool to reuse/recycle/up cycle/free cycle/buy bulk produce. The state wide ban on retail plastic bags turned us into a role model both nationally and inter-nationally, and it is accepted common practice to turn up to the store/ market with your jute tote bag/ basket in tow (because if you want a plastic bag you can expect to pay anywhere from 10 to 20 cents for one).

If you do end up without a bag you can:

a) try to cram apples into your handbag (me) or

b) balance all your produce in the crooks of your elbows whilst concerned Mediterranean men look on (me) or

C) capitulate and buy a reusable tote ($1-2) or buy said plastic bag from above (most of which are “biodegradable” or insanely strong, so at least you can keep re-using them).

It’s such an accepted practice in SA now, that I actually did get quite the culture shock when I moved interstate for work for the first time. Plastic bags are still in an abundance in the Gold Coast, and I had so many awkward exchanges with cashiers. E.g. I’d hand them my crumpled tote bag with a hopeful gleam in my eye- they would look at me strangely- then there is a flash of I-get-it! recognition- and they would unceremoniously dump my groceries in a plastic bag, and then place it into my tote #sorrynotsorry

So while we waited for the rest of the country to catch up on this whole reducing waste jig, SA powered ahead and started introducing green organic household bins- originally marketed to catch all your lawn and tree trimmings to be sent off to be turned into compost, the councils (in varying degrees) started trialling household compost bins to add food waste and other organic material to the green bins. Some councils have fully embraced it, some are still a bit half-half. We’re lucky enough to live in a council area which now provides you with a free kitchen compost bin with a roll of compostable bag liners (made of corn starch and designed to break down in 30 days), which should tide you over for a year, after which they’ll drop off a new roll every year (or you can buy another roll from the library for a nominal fee- which is actually still MUCH cheaper than buying online, trust me!). What impressed me was what could go into the green organics bin nowadays (besides the obvious):

  • All food scraps, bread, dairy etc.
  • Tissues and shredded paper
  • Human hair and nail clippings
  • Pizza boxes (!)
  • Bones, sea shells (freeze them until the fortnightly collection day if the smell bothers you)
  • Animal droppings

So after about 2 weeks of using our cute new composting bin with relish, I am very impressed with how little was now going into our general waste (landfill) bin. (This was back in March 2015)

But what about the smell?
Shut your eyes and your mouth, don’t breathe in and just hoik it in there (also don’t inhale those little flying bugs). Or- you can layer stuff with lawn clippings or shredded paper or newspaper sheets.

Of course, the ideal mindset would be to go zero-waste, or as close to that as possible i.e. Not having to recycle at all; having our own compost heap; have no landfill waste. I am not making an excuse, but I am standing up for the rest of us- we are not stay at home mums, freelance writers or artists or travel bloggers. We work in a profession where single use is king; where surviving a gruelling training program (that shuttles you interstate every year at great personal, monetary and environmental cost) often means living a life of convenience foods, little to no sleep, and online shopping late at night to mitigate those dark feelings after telling someone that no, their mother is never going to wake up. Ever.

This blog was originally written with waste reducing for busy professionals in mind- people who are aware of the cumulative environmental impact and want to help, but don’t know how. It’s always great to get little ideas to implement in your own daily practice, and just because you are not a self-sustaining juggernaut of zero waste fuelled purely by rabbit poo, does not mean that the small habits you adopt now make no difference! One less coffee cup, one less plastic bag, learning to recycle properly, educating your children- it is all adds up. All you need to do is start something new.

Task #1: If you don’t already have a compost bin- ask your council! I was really impressed after speaking to my council about waste management options, and their websites are often filled with useful tips. (note- not all councils in Adelaide are participating in this program, but reaserach is just a click away!)
Happy zero wasting!

Lisa x

(Pictured above- a roll of green compost bags. I pretty much high-fived the council lady when she gave me these!)

Quick and Dirty

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  When I first started zero-wasting, I binge-read a lot of zero-waste/ eco/ green- mummy blogs. I got sucked into a vortex of (sometimes) complex recipes with specific ratios, ingredients I had never heard of/ that I would need to buy more packaged items to make one item…

  As I usually tell my bosses (sometimes to their alarm) I am extremely simplistic and my mind works on such a basic level that my thought processes are more like basic rough-drawn cartoons rather than a Monet masterpiece (better than a Picasso, I guess?). So all these recipes- not for me. So I went with my instincts and just used what works. There are gorgeous pictures out there with thrifted glass bottles up-cycled into spray bottles etc. However- one principle of zero-waste is to re-use- So when I used up a cleaning spray I pulled off the label and filled it up. I figured out how to pull the little nozzle at the top of a toilet cleaner off, so I could fill it up and still use it functionally as a squeeze bottle. An old tin paprika shaker got filled with baking soda and sits by the sink in the bathroom- pretty and functional.

  It’s all about basic principles:

  • baking soda= abrasive, seems to attract/ suck up dirt/ grime, gets fizzy when mixed with vinegar
  • vinegar= acidic, cuts through grease, deodorises, disinfects
  • essential oils= fragrance, tea tree/ eucalyptus= anti-microbial, cleans grease, good for cleaning off gooey residue (like sticky labels on jars)
  • castille soap= made from vegetable oil/ olive oil, add for extra grease-cutting power
  • soap nuts= natural saponification agent, conversation starter 😉

By using basic principles, you can apply these to different situations (just like solving mathematical problems= nerd alert)

Toilet Cleaning:

  • Squeeze bottle with 100% neat vinegar. I buy mine as a refill from Goodies and Grains (Adelaide Central Market), but you can find it in glass at most places. If you can only find it in a plastic bottle- get the biggest bottle you can to cut down on overall packaging
  • Bathroom spray bottle filled with 1:1 vinegar: water
  • Baking soda in a shaker
  • I start by sprinkling the toilet bowl and all surfaces with baking soda
  • Using the vinegar spray, I spritz all surfaces (cistern, bowl etc) let it fizz a bit and give it a wipe down
  • I then squeeze some neat vinegar into the bowl and scrub with a toilet brush and let it sit for a while before flushing- that’s it!
  • **Note: My toilet brush is still plastic (I can’t justify a beautiful Redecker set- yet! And yes I can use a washcloth- but my OCD tendencies won’t let me plunge my hand inside a toilet bowl. I use either a non-disposable washcloth to wipe the surfaces, or I usually bring home any napkins we weren’t able to refuse at restaurants/ cafes whilst eating out- which then get composted afterwards

All-purpose cleaning spray

  • 1:1 vinegar: water in a spray bottle (have you sensed the trend?), a dash of castille soap (can be bought in liquid form in bulk at the Soap and Honeyshoppe, Central Market Arcade), a few drops of eucalyptus oil (The HoneyShopped can refill your essential oils), and a couple of used up soap nuts (I don’t know if they really add anything, but they’re fun, and they freak people out 😉 ). I use reusable wash cloths that get thrown in the wash when grubby, or the above mentioned used paper napkins

Baking soda shaker

  • Baking soda works pretty hard at our place: Tooth paste, baking (!), sink scrubber, hand scrubber (so useful if you have sticky-dough-hands after kneading shaggy bread dough, coffee grounds work well too), oven cleaner (make into a thick paste with some water and spread it over surfaces, leave for a couple of hours, then spray off with the vinegar spray), deodoriser (fridge, rabbit’s litter tray, drains and sinks), soap scum scrubber, bath soak with epsom salts (also bought in bulk), face exfoliant. I’ve probably left a lot out, but you get the idea. We’re lucky enough to buy it in bulk (Goodies and Grains), but it usually comes in a paper box (with no sneaky inside plastic), which can be recycled.

I always say the same thing- use what works for you, what you like and feel comfortable using. There is no all-encompassing zero-waste bible, we are not a cult. For me, my attention span doesn’t extend to fancy recipes, but with these it’s not too hard. Out of vinegar spray- fill up bottle half way with vinegar, then fill up all the way with water. Done. Go forth and clean 🙂

Happy zero-wasting!

Lisa x

It’s all about the journey

I’ve realised that my blog has taken a 3 month hiatus (has it been that long?). There have been a few things happening in that time, and this blog has fallen by the wayside- Which wasn’t helped by the fact that I am technologically backward and forgot my password 😉

I *have* however continued to update via Instagram (The Lazy Person’s Blog) @lisa_bunny, so come stop by for more reliable updates 🙂

Over the last 12 months a lot of things have happened (not necessarily pleasant), and when we moved back to Adelaide (from interstate) it was all rather over-whelming. Not just emotionally and physically (I’m looking at you, 13 + hour drive), but the actual physical stuff that came with it. As a result of multiple interstate moves (both living separately and together), we had accumulated a ridiculous number of possessions for two people (2 couches, anyone? 2 TV’s… 2.. or more… Of everything…) , had two epic moving days, and when we thought we had things under control- we realised that we had a storage container full of stuff in Adelaide to empty as well…

I am filled with shame when I think back to how we approached our move. It was definitely not waste free at all, and it was one of the most stressful things I have done. One clear image in my mind was the morning we moved out of our old home- we had been up all night with no sleep furiously packing our countless possessions, filled with stress that we would leave something behind or that something would break, sniping at each other. We hadn’t implemented a plan to use up our pantry items in the weeks prior, so were faced with culling what we had. We took some favourite items; unopened and in-date items went to the Salvation Army; and opened liquid items- unfortunately- we threw out. And because we were in such a rush before the movers arrived- we tossed everything in the trash. And because our landfill bin was full- it went in a huge bag that we would pay to drop off at the dump later that day. *cringe* Food wastage… Not recycling… Dump frequenters… That was us.

There was a lot of bubble wrap used. And a lot of boxes for all the stuff we had. One saving grace was the week leading up to the move I wandered around the operating theatres in between cases to collect discarded Kymguard (thick plastic sheets that are used to wrap surgical instrument trays in), which is really effective used as a wrapping for fragile items. Now that I know better I would have used more clothes and blankets to cushion items, but I digress.

Upon returning to Adelaide and realising just how much stuff we had- I had a breakdown. It was somewhere between standing in the living room piled ceiling high with sealed moving boxes, and sitting on our second couch outside crying with frustration because it wouldn’t fit through the front door (even with the hinges taken out). Enough was enough. I started aggressively unpacking and aggressively culling at the same time, I was free-cycling like a mad-woman, I sold lots of big furniture via Gumtree (like Craigslist), we even had a garage (yard) sale to get rid of even more stuff. Countless bags of clothes went to the charity store, the poor quality clothes were dropped off at the recycling centre to be cut up as rags or processed for insulation batting etc. I sold stuff at consignment stores, I even woke up at an awful hour in the morning to sell some stuff at the markets:

Garage sale

Throughout the process I dreamed of minimalism and started obsessively researching it. First came Marie Kondo, and her book, “The life-changing magic of tidying-up”.

marie-kondo-decluttering3

It’s a little kooky, but there are some real gems in there. Especially the advice about keeping only the things that bring you joy. And if I didn’t get anything out of it, at least I finally learnt how to fold clothes in the most efficient way possible. Also-  Colour-coding happened.

GetAttachment.aspx booksmarie kondo   I think stuff in general is my weakness, and clothing was my biggest weakness (and burden). I realised I had been schlepping this mountain of clothes all over the country with me, and some of them never actually left the moving boxes that they had arrived in. Terrible. I also had no idea what to wear, and my most favourite items were being lost in the nether regions of my closet, never to be seen again. Enter Caroline Joy, of http://www.un-fancy.com, who keeps it pretty simple- a set of clothes and shoes for each season, learn how to mix and match and what actually works for you, and continually edit. So I started using a capsule wardrobe, and it was ridiculously effective in helping me cull more things. I also started using Stylebook (an iPad app) at the beginning to give me more of a visual of what I had, and let me play around with outfits. I haven’t used it for months, but a lot of people use it to plan outfits for trips etc. I love a good visual packing list! Here are a few examples from Summer:

 Outfit 1 Outfit 2outfit3outfit4

Finally- I stumbled on images of Bea Johnson’s minimalist home (www.zerowastehome.com) and I was hooked. What had I been doing all my life? Then I saw an article on Lauren Singer (www.trashisfortossers.com) in Frankie magazine and I was convinced- I had to at least try this!

Sorry about the long post (I guess it makes up for the 3 months of radio silence 😉 ). I am always interested in what people’s “green” or “zero waste” epiphany moments are- that moment you realise that you’re part of something much bigger than yourself, that it’s time to make some changes.  What was your epiphany moment, what has your journey been like? Because nobody goes zero-waste overnight- it’s an ongoing process, always new things to learn and try out. We also have (in my opinion) one of the most supportive Internet community out there- Everyone is lovely and supportive of each other, it really makes this feel like a team effort.

p.s. Our house is much nicer now and a lot less cluttered (but we still have more stuff than I care to admit), it has become more of a haven and I’ve finally felt comfortable about inviting people over.

Lounge room

Happy zero-wasting!

Lisa xx

I’ve got 99 problems, and Zero-waste is one

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There are some days where it feels as though the zero-waste gods are laughing at you, or at the very least have shunned you for some unknown reason.

Over the past few weeks I have slowly gotten into the zero-waste groove, bringing my own containers and finding new places in Adelaide to buy unpackaged goods. I successfully bought ham over the counter in my own container (which they calculated the tare weight on with no fuss) at the Magill Foodland (591 Magill Road, Magill). Next door at the local butcher we have managed to buy meat a few times in our own glass containers with no eye-rolling or weird looks, just a big grin from our lovely local butcher with his waxed moustache :). In the same complex is a BBQ chicken shop, which we have gone to a few times (when we are too lazy to cook)- they’ve put chips and gravy in our containers, as well as putting a rotisserie chicken in our own (food-grade) bucket! Rob went by himself the other day expecting a humiliating experience, but he found that they were perfectly fine with it. Hooray!

Riding on the ease of these “first experiments”, I went out to do my weekly food-shop in the suburbs of Norwood and Burnside. This area is the “affluent East” of Adelaide, which to me means that it is filled with the type of people I resent- rich angry ladies who brunch and who also “accidentally” ram your legs with their double-strollers whilst vapidly talking on their phones. Ugh. Norwood Foodland is my favourite “big supermarket”, which boasts a huge bulk snack and nuts section and a long deli counter. Unfortunately when I went up to the cheese and olive counter to ask for some cheese in my container I was knocked back- the only thing they could offer me was weighing the cheese in their own plastic bag/ container, giving it to me, then I could then put it in my own container (not the point).

Next up was the fishmonger (Seafood on Parade), also in the same complex as Foodland. I asked if I could get two salmon fillets straight in my container, and if he could tare the weight on the container on the scale (I figured if two butchers in the area could do it, these guys could handle it too). It was not to be. He weighed the fillets in a plastic bag, then put the fillets in my container, whilst asking, “Is this clean”, and, “Do you have a way of keeping it cold?”, whilst giving me a look. I was treated like some dirty person with no food hygiene principles, and for the first time in almost 3 months I felt ashamed. I know that this business has never been known for their customer service, but now that I have confirmed this I’ll be happy to give them a wide berth.

We’re running low on tea, so I went to Burnside Village (angry rich lady mecca) to visit T2, a tea specialty store. For some reason I confused them with the T-bar (which has stores in the Central Markets and the City) and mistakenly thought they sold loose tea by weight. Definitely not true. Enter walls and walls of foil packaged tea. 😦 I then popped by the deli counter in Burnside during a quiet time to chat to the girl behind the counter about buying unpackaged cheese in my container. After a long conversation I thought she understood me when I said, “Can you please cut off a piece of this cheddar with NO plastic wrap and put it in my container?” She turned, plopped a pre-plastic wrapped bit of cheddar on the scales and charged me $8 for it. I took the cheese, paid and tasted true defeat.

The nicest part of my day was finally going to my lovely “egg man” (Lian Hua Asia Grocery, 462 Payneham Rd, Glynde), who sells loose eggs by the dozen and lets me bring my own egg box to fill up. I also noticed today that he sells vermicelli loose for $5.50 a kilo! We don’t need vermicelli currently, but will remember for next time.

I guess for people who aren’t sold on the zero-waste concept, the bull-headedness and courage that it takes to seek out unpackaged “everyday” foods and risk being laughed at or shamed (for trying to reduce my landfill contribution) is quite foreign. It also begs the question, “Is it worth it”. My answer is always going to be yes. It’s amazing how plastic has turned us into a society of “convenience consumers”, and how much it dictates our day to day existence. In the mere act of trying to source food that would otherwise take seconds to buy (pick up some shrink-wrapped cheese, pick up some salmon in a plastic bag), I have realised that some days it is hard, and I also noted the fact that food-shopping has never pushed me to the brink of tears before. I honestly felt defeated and wanted to cry today, and felt very alone in the world.

I know that when I buy my meat in a container, the container ends up being washed in the dishwasher ready for next use. What happens to the plastic bag dripping with raw chicken juice? Would you honestly tell me that you diligently wash and sterilise it so that it is clean enough for soft plastics recycling or for your own re-use? I know what happens- it goes in the bin. And where does stuff in the bin go? It goes to landfill. And then what? Will it blow away in the wind, will it strangle and choke and starve sea life, will it eventually break down in the estimated 1000 years, will it impede the breakdown of organic matter in landfill and contribute to methane emissions?

I dream of owning a grocery store where zero-wasters are welcomed, and mindless consumerism with single use plastic is shunned. People wanting things in single use plastic will be the ones who would feel ashamed walking into the store, not the ones who have gone to the effort of having enough clean containers to grocery shop. You can have all the cheese you want. You can get your butter cut for you. There will be milk on tap, yoghurt to put in your container. Asian groceries by bulk- rice, noodles, nori, frozen dumplings, soy sauce. Frozen berries and vegetables to scoop and put in your own freezer. In a society where everyone is now so busy and convenience is king, would it not make sense that if we make unpackaged shopping more convenient, we could make a difference? We can’t go back to the cart and buggy years, but we need to start making more sustainable choices and need to make the choices available to the mainstream. I agree that a handful of people world wide bulk shopping won’t make a difference, but what if more and more people did it?

The zero-wasters out there around the world are trail blazers. They are the ones who have endured the awkwardness of being “the first person ever to bring their container here”. They’re the ones who have put in the time and miles and effort to source bulk buy options and to share their findings with others. They have voluntarily stepped off the giant mouse wheel that we are all genetically engineered to stay on until we die- and have said, “enough”.

We have had enough.