Going zero waste is all about re-framing our thinking and overhauling our consumption habits. Instead of being a disposable society, we would like to focus on being a reusable society.
The 30 Day Challenge is merely ideas that you can implement into your lifestyle. It does not have to be done over 30 days, but over the year as long as items in your home need replacing.
It is based on the 5 R's: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot.
Day 1: Reusable Bags
One of the most simple and easiest zero waste swaps to do these days with Coles and Woolies banning their single use plastic bags, customers are forced to remember their reusable bags. But what happens if you keep forgetting to bring your bags? Then make a rule for yourself, no bags means no shopping. Or alternatively buy what you can carry in your hands.
Day 2: Reusable Water Bottle
I have two reusable water bottles that I use each day. Number One is my Sogi glass water bottle and Number Two is my stainless steel Sigg water bottle. Here in Melbourne our tap water tastes better than the stuff comes out of plastic bottles anyway, but if you are a bit fussy about the taste of your water there are charcoal water purifiers out there. Also If I’m out and forget my bottle I will either use a glass or at least purchase a drink in a glass bottle that is guaranteed to be recycled properly.
Day 3: Reduce Fast Food
Dine in and don’t do take away. Fast food chains generate so much waste from boxes, food scraps to plastic utensils and napkins. All of which are used on average of 15mins before they are thrown in the trash. Making your own food is cheaper anyway right? Make enough for dinner and you can take the left overs to work the next day.
Day 4: Ditch the Paper Towels.
Reusable UnPaper Towels are the best. Simply use and wash ready to be reused again. Alternatively you can make your own by cutting up old t-shirts or using scrap pieces of fabric.
Day 5: Reusable Keep Cup or Brew Your Own Coffee
So the general public think that takeaway coffee cups are recyclable. WRONG! They are not, due to a very thin plastic layer you can’t see. What did you think prevents your hot drink from turning your paper cup into paper Mache?
This is a pretty easy lifestyle switch. I have a great eco-friendly reusable coffee mug, but I also mostly drink coffee at home. Look around, there are great reusable mug alternatives online.
Day 6: Cloth Produce Bags
This is yet another example of unnecessary use plastic bags. Did you know most fruit and veggies don’t actually need bags because they have skin that are usually washed and peeled before consumption? For example, bananas, potatoes and pumpkin to name a few. Cloth bags come in many different sizes and fabrics so the choice is yours. Hemp is a great alternative as if is a natural fiber that uses less water than cotton to produce.
Day 7: Reusable Nappies
In the first year of a baby’s life approximately 2500 – 3000 disposable nappies are used and can take up to 500 years to decompose. These days, reusable nappies are called ‘Modern Cloth Nappies’ and are far from the terry toweling that our parents used on us. With a range of sizes, styles and funky patterns to choose from, soon you will be doing a happy dance when it’s nappy changing time.
Day 8: Reusable Utensils
It really doesn’t require much of an effort to have a small spoon or fork in your bag, especially as plastic ones are really wasteful since we usually use them only once and they may take centuries to break down, if at all. Bamboo travel cutlery sets are handy as they come with a spoon, knife, fork and straw all rolled up into a handy pouch. For a traveller these can also be taken on a plane with you.
Day 9: Reusable Containers
Choose glass containers and recycle old jars rather than choosing plastic ones. Another alternative is the stainless steel bento lunch boxes as well as the reusable silicone Sinchies pouch for babies.
Day 10: Upcycle
Whether it be a piece of furniture or a kitchen utensil, Upcycling is the best way to turn a disused item into something useful. Take a look around your home, search hard rubbish or poke around on free sites such as Gumtree and market place as there are many items you can pick up for free, saving them from going into landfill. Currently we are turning some old pallets into a pallet bed.
Day 11: Compostable Toothbrush
Did you know the very first toothbrush you ever used still exists in the world today, and will still exist long after you have departed the world? Opt for Bamboo Toothbrushes as these are compostable at the end of their life.
Day 12: Homemade Toiletries
Simple recipes such as body scrubs, moisturisers, cleansers and lip balms are in abundance on the web these days. Shop at local makers markets for handmade products if you are not game enough to make your own. The benefit of this is you are supporting small businesses.
Some useful references include:
Erin a http://www.therogueginger.com
Bea Johnson https://zerowastehome.com
Day 13: Reusable Menstrual Products
Menstrual cups, Washable pads are yet a product I haven’t tried. So nothing else to add here.
Day 14: Compost
Composting your food scraps significantly reduces your rubbish. Options can include Bokashi bins, home compost systems, worm farms or even garden share waste programs that connect people who wish to recycle their kitchen scraps with their neighbours. For us we have a compost bin that we regularly use to feed our veggie garden.
Day 15: Farmers Market
We are a big fan of farmers markets and luckily we have one nearby we can visit regularly. I’m not saying we exclusively shop there, but for fruits, vegetables, eggs and honey we can buy organic and plastic free which also helps support the local farmers.
Day 16: Junk Mail
Instead of recycling, it’s much more effective to try to stop receiving products that end up in landfill to begin with. Place ‘no junk mail’ stickers on your letter box, receive all your bills electronically, unsubscribe from newspapers, magazines and here in Australia register to stop receiving the Yellow Pages each year.
Day 17: Soap / Shampoo & Conditioner Bars.
We buy boxed soap that is plastic free instead of pump style body washes. We have also experimented with making our own shampoo bars, Apple Cider Vinegar Rinses as well as Rye Flour to wash our hair. At the moment we have a couple of artisan soaps without plastic packaging that we use.
Day 18: Straws
Along with the plastic utensils, this could be such an easy switch – not using them at all or opting for a reusable one. We have both Bamboo and Stainless Steel types and are easy enough to carry around in your bag. The biggest problem when dining out is asking the waiter not to give you a straw.
Day 19: Opt For Secondhand
Reducing waste in fashion is a complicated issue. I’m a big fan of buying less and buying quality, but for me, it doesn’t necessarily mean ALWAYS second-hand. There are a lot of ethical brands or local designers that I’d gladly support by purchasing from them. What I can definitely suggest research fast fashion, sustainable buying options, and even if you cannot do anything at once, start doing some smaller steps. Secondhand doesn’t only apply to fashion however, furniture, home-wares and even electronic goods can be bought secondhand.
Day 20: Handmade Gifts
The best gifts are experiences or giving handmade goods. Put simply, give really meaningful, useful, unique gifts – not for the sake of giving, but finding something your loved ones really, really appreciate. Also find some unique ways to wrap these gifts instead of using wrapping paper, use tea towels, items of clothing, baskets, newspaper or old maps.
Day 21: Grow Your Own Food
We have a small courtyard, but still have managed to grow some of our own veggies and herbs in pots. Propagate the seeds and the ends of vegetables such as bok choy, spring onions and celery. This has been a fun one to do and the satisfaction of eating your own organic food is the best.
Day 22: Safety Razor
We made the switch this year and have wondered why it took us so long. It does take some time getting used to, but the trick is to apply no pressure and use the weight of the razor for a clean shave. There’s many You Tube videos out there if you need help with your technique.
Day 23: Simplify Your Cleaning Products
Baking Soda, White Vinegar, Castile Soap and Essential Oils are my go to products for DIY Home cleaning recipes. Also my tools consist of refillable glass spray bottles, plant fibre cleaning brushes, reusable sponges and wipes. All plastic can be eliminated in this section.
Some useful references include:
Erin Rhoads http://www.therogueginger.com
Bea Johnson https://zerowastehome.com
Day 24: Eat More Plants
This is really easy. While I’m not a vegan or vegetarian, I don’t feel the need to eat meat every single day or multiple times a day. I go several days a week without meat, so this challenge was not very difficult. If you want to try this, designate a meatless day or make a challenge out of creating exciting meals without meat. Going to the local farmers market is also a great way to ensure the produce you’re eating is fresh. Buying locally and seasonally is the most important and probably the easiest thing we can do to support our health and the environment at the same time.
Day 25: Reusable Tissues and Hankies
Not that hard to swap, just chuck them in the washing with the rest of your clothes. Can easily be made from scrap pieces of fabric, or bought at local craft markets.
Day 26: Home Efficiency
Swap you lights to LEDs, try to use less air conditioning and heating, unplug your appliances when not being used, check the seals on you fridges and use timers on garden taps. If you need to buy new appliances research the energy savings and choose the most efficient. Also don’t throw out old appliances, donate them or take them to a local repair café.
Day 27: Ditch Plastic Wrap
Left-over food can be put into glass containers. Fruits and Vegetables can be wrapped in reusable beeswax wraps; A natural, sustainable alternative to plastic wrap. There are also vegan options available.
Day 28: Repair and Mend
We are big believers in quality over quantity and do make efforts to repair stuff when needed. Try to take the time and make an effort to repair stuff instead of replacing them. You can also try your local repair café for tips.
Day 29: Phase Out Plastic
Reduce your plastic consumption. This doesn’t mean throw all the plastic out and go buy brand new eco-friendly alternatives. This means only when the product is done and dusted, then replace with the better option. While shopping always refuse the plastic wrapped produce and opt for the loose produce. The same goes for plastic bottles, always choose a glass option. The greatest message that we can send the big supermarket chains is that we don’t want these products.
Day 30: Recycle
Recycling exists because of the over-production and over-consumption of products that have come to the end of their life either through poor design, poor quality or lack of use. Recycling is a last resort of the Five R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Rot and Recycle. Of all the items that can be recycled, most can only be recycled, up-cycled or down-cycled once and then they become landfill or worse they’re incinerated. Either way, those resources are lost forever.
From Earths Tribe we hope you enjoyed these ideas and wish you all the best with implementing these into your life in 2019!