‘My 31-Day Waste Less Challenge’

by | Dec 31, 2019

In early 2018, on my weekly ocean swim, I noticed plastic floating in the water. From that day, I started picking up a few pieces of rubbish every time I went to the beach, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was to find. I knew the world was in trouble – I’d read the headlines – but it’d been a case of out of sight out of mind, I guess. 

Now, the ripples of environmental chatter have turned into a tidal wave. This year, 22 local councils in Australia and more than 600 worldwide have declared a climate emergency. And while we can look to governments and large organisations to create change, individuals can drive it, too. So I set myself a challenge – to slash my waste as much as possible for a month.

I’d already been using reusable bottles and coffee cups during my day job at Women’s Health but what surprised me most over those 31 days was the amount of waste in other areas of my life, like the kitchen and in my beauty routine. 

Challenge completed, I still haven’t totally nailed a waste-free existence (we’re all a work in progress, right?), but I’m a helluva lot closer. 

In fact, two months after taking on the challenge, I decided to launch my company Banish, an online store offering eco products as well as info on how we can all reduce our waste and eco-footprint. Want to take it yourself? Of course, you do! Here are some of my fave ways to live more, with less.

RELATED: ‘Plogging’ Might Just Be The Best Fitness Trend Yet 

Wash smart

Show Nemo some love. Every time you put on a wash, tiny microplastics break off your clothes and enter our waterways. To reduce this (and extend the life of your tights), wash on low temps and a low spin cycle. Even better? Use a Guppyfriend washing bag ($45), which catches the microplastics before they can hit the sea. Well played.

Mend mindfully

Fix your clothing – even just getting nine more months out of that gym tee could help reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by 20- 30 per cent each, according to the Waste & Resources Action Programme. Love!

Go full circle 

Savvy brands are now taking responsibility for their impact on the planet and getting in on the recycled-material game. Nimble Activewear’s Compresslite range is made from recycled plastic bottles. In the last year alone, they’ve helped save 300,000 of them from landfill. Sweet!


A plastic toothbrush < a bamboo toothbrush

A plastic razor < a metal safety razor

Bottles of shampoo and conditioner < shampoo bars 

Tampons and pads < a menstrual cup or period underwear

Single-use make-up wipes < crochet wipes


Green-over your commute

When possible, ditch your car in favour of walking or public transport. UberPool is great.

Recycle E-waste

Aka electronic waste – everything from your old iPod to broken hair straightener. According to War on Waste, Oz creates 700,000 tonnes of it every year. Drop-off your unwanted items at your local Officeworks or e-waste recycling centre. Genius!

Refuse or re-use

Keep your toolkit nearby and say no to single-use plastics.


Start composting 

It’ll help reduce your household waste by 40 per cent, according to FoodWise. Don’t have space to start your own compost bin? Download the ShareWaste app, which connects you with neighbours who do.

Nix food waste

A fifth of food bought in Oz ends up in the bin, reports Love Food Hate Waste. That’s $3800 worth of groceries per household each year (or more than $70 weekly). Check your fridge before you shop and plan your meals for the week. I also love The Swag Bags ($72.95 for a starter pack) for keeping food fresg. The three-layer design helps things such as kale last for two weeks and carrots for a month.

Mind the packaging 

Buy food in boxes rather than plastic, and avoid anything packing palm oil, which contributes to deforestation. Chips, chocolate and lollies often come wrapped in plastic, so head to a bulk-food shop for snacks (I love dark choc-covered goji berries) or make popcorn at home.

No-waste toolkit


Recommended to you

Women Fleeing Domestic Violence Can Now Receive A One-Off Support Payment

It’s been labelled the shadow pandemic and the fact remains that for many women across Australia, domestic violence is a lived reality that doesn’t discriminate by age, occupation, or socio-economic status. Researchers have found that during Covid-19 lockdowns, there was a surge in family and domestic violence, with agencies experiencing a surge in demand as nearly half their clients reported an increase in controlling behaviours. 

As many who have lived through such turmoil and trauma can attest, the roadmap to fleeing such situations at home can be fraught with challenges and extremely difficult to navigate, particularly when such bureaucracy makes it even harder. Now, it’s been announced that women fleeing a violent relationship will be given a one-off $5,000 payment as part of a federal government trial scheme. 

Known as the “escaping violence payment scheme,” the government has set aside $144.5 million over the next two years to give women $1,500 cash, with the remainder to pay for goods and services, bond, school fees and other necessaries to establish a new safe home. UnitingCare Network will be tasked with delivering the payments while helping link women and their children with relevant community services. 

As the Daily Telegraph reports, “An analysis of domestic violence data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that while it is more common for women from poorer areas, women from high socio-economic areas are not immune from experiencing partner violence.”

As Women’s Safety Minister Anne Ruston explained, the trial has been introduced with the aim to help women overcome the financial barriers that might deter them from leaving a violent relationship. “We know that financial hardship as well as economic abuse - which may involve interfering with work or controlling or withholding money - reduces women’s ability to acquire and use money and makes it difficult to leave violent relationships,” she said. 

“The payments will assist people who need financial support to leave. We know the size of the house a woman is fleeing doesn’t matter. Often she bundles the kids into the car, maybe the dog too and they leave with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.”

To be eligible for a payment, women must be facing financial stress and have some evidence of domestic violence such as a referral from a family and domestic violence service provider with a risk assessment and safety plan, or an AVO, court order or police report. As UnitingCare Australia National Director Claerwen Little said, “We believe that all people, especially women and their children, have the right to live freely and without fear, and this payment is an important step forward to ending violence against women and children.”

If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.

If you’d like to speak to someone about domestic violence, please call the 1800 

Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online. 

Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.