As part of my New Year’s resolution, I decided to do my bit for the environment and cut down on my waste. I decided to document my journey on my blog, Banish, and all was going well. I had started composting at home and recycling my soft plastics through Coles and Woolworths, but with Plastic Free July fast approaching, I thought why not take things another step further and go without waste altogether for one whole week.
On Sunday I had to get organised, I switched my one-stop shop at Coles for a shop at The Source Bulkfoods and my local fruit shop. I planned my meals and food prepped like there was no tomorrow. Bircher muesli or porridge for breakfast (soaked in water because almond milk packaging is the devil!), cauliflower soup for my lunches and a mix of omelettes and stir-fries for dinner. I tossed all of my veggie scraps in the compost – how hard could this be?
I liked to think I was pretty good I always use a reusable coffee cup and water bottle but it turns out this was just the tip of the iceberg.
By 3pm I was hanging out for a tasty snack but couldn’t opt for my usual crackers (plastic packaging) protein shake (plastic packaging) or protein ball (plastic packaging. I had eaten my banana for morning tea (and saved my peel in a glass jar) so was at a loss for afternoon tea, so I thought I’d just settle for a cup of tea… Hold up! Tea bags are a no no when it comes to zero waste. The regular tea bags you use are crimped shut use plastic to seal shut, “silk” pyramid bags are actually woven with plastic and the nametag on tea is made from plastic.
Another palaver that didn’t cross my mind, paper towels. These sneaky suckers have a misleading name as the way the fibres are woven presents a bigger issue. They can’t be recycled but can be added to some large compost heaps (i.e not an apartment sized one like mine.) Devastating news… it looks like everything is drip-drying on my desk today!
On my way home I stopped at Woolworths (with my reusable tote bag in hand) to top up my zero waste snack supplies, sticking to the outside of the store I survived ending up with a couple of apples and more bananas. To my shock horror, the self-checkout spat out a receipt without me even asking. And there we have piece #1.
I was back. One day down six to go. I was snack attack ready and raring to go. I packed a tea towel so I didn’t have to drip dry and packed some loose nuts and seeds in a jar and an extra piece of fruit.
I was finding my groove yes my bag was heavier than usual with my zero-waste fighting gear but a bit of extra lifting wasn’t just going to help my biceps it was going to help save the planet.
I suspected that day four was going to be my hardest yet. I was out of the office all day at an event that was fully catered for… I know this sounds like a dream to most but there was no space for my cauliflower soup and colourful tea towels at the event so I was nervous, to say the least. I stuffed my bag with extra cutlery, my water bottle and reusable coffee cup so I could be prepared for any piece of plastic that came my way.
After chatting with the barista it turns out I was the only person at the event of 100+ who BYO-cup with most people knocking back a latte of two I estimated this at around 170 cups coffee cups heading to landfill from this event alone. I was so excited (embarrassingly so) to find that the event had bamboo plates and cutlery for all #winning.
Uh-oh by 3 pm my slump hit again, and every single one of the afternoon tea options came in packaging… Nuts and seeds in individually packaged plastic bags, cupcakes in plastic patty cases and singular wrapped biscuits. It was a hard pass from me! Unfortunately, a monstrous headache hit and I had no choice but to opt for a peppermint tea. Here goes item #2 into my zero waste jar.
Day 5 – 6
I wouldn’t say I was cruising through the zero waste lifestyle, I was more like a 15-year-old learner driver learning manual for the 5th time. I wasn’t stalling it but I was bunny-hopping to say the least.
I’m injury prone, to say the least, so I opted to add to my jar a bit of strapping tape in exchange for no broken bones. And item #3 ends up in the jar.
I headed out to coffee to celebrate our monstrous win (15-3 in case you were wondering) and on my high ordered an iced latte. To my utter horror it arrived with a plastic straw poking through, it hit hard and straight through my heart. I was in the routine of refusing waste when it was about to be handed to me but didn’t realise how I needed to think even further in advance.
By the end of the challenge, I ended up with a tea bag, one receipt, some old manky strapping tape and a plastic straw. I am proud of my efforts whilst I wasn’t perfect it was such an amazing eye-opening experience, which made me realise that plastic, is in just about everything. Whilst I am not going to continue being zero waste forever I am definitely more aware of the plastic.