By Emma Gibbs
Before my son was born, I was kinda prepared for the sleep deprivation, the round-the-clock feeding, and the change in pace maternity leave would bring. What I was not prepared for was the insane shift in my priorities and my view of the world – everything changed when I became a mama.
I had been like most 30-something women… enjoying the carefree days and generally experiencing the kind of selfishness that (let’s be real) only the childfree can truly enjoy!
After bringing my bebe home, I quickly realised that mamahood was about selflessness, and I started to think more about my impact on the world, particularly when it came to the environment and how the next gen (including my little one) will be affected by climate change.
That’s when I looked at how my family could reduce our carbon footprint and adopt a #zerowaste lifestyle. Yup! We’re aiming to dramatically reduce (or completely eliminate) sending any waste to landfill – “Refuse what you do not need; reduce what you do need; reuse what you consume; recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce or reuse; and rot (compost) the rest.”
How to be a zero waste household
1 // Use natural cleaning products
Opt for vinegar, bicarb soda and castile soap instead of harsh, chemical cleaners to clean your home.
2 // Embrace natural beauty products
They’re safer health-wise AND planet-wise, winning! Swap out liquid soaps for soap bars, use shampoo and conditioner bars instead of bottled versions, and find body moisturisers and facial oils which can be refilled at a bulk food store. I also use a makeup brand that specialises in sustainable packaging for the ultimate guilt-free beauty regime.
3 // Avoid all single-use items
We substitute plastic household items such as toothbrushes, cotton tips and scrubbing brushes with bamboo alternatives. These savings add up over time as you avoid buying single-use items that need to be constantly replaced, such as bottled water, paper towels, bin liners and cling wrap.
4 // Shop at bulk food stores and farmer’s markets
And don’t forget to take your reusable shopping bags with you!
5 // Compost your own food waste
Set up a composting system at home – a worm farm or compost bin – and compost your own food waste, because when food waste goes to landfill, it rots and gives off methane gas, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.
6 // Buy your clothes and homewares from ethical, sustainable brands
Or even bag a second-hand bargain!
7 // Embrace reusable products
Think KeepCups for your takeaway coffee, reusable water bottles and cloth bags instead of plastic bags… not just at the supermarket but for all types of shopping. And try to refuse single-use items like straws, napkins and disposable cutlery. Say NO to plastic!
8 // Learn to make basic foods yourself
Start with dips, mayonnaise, pasta sauce and crackers to avoid packaged foods.
9 // Eat local and seasonal wholefoods, not processed and packaged foods
It’s better for your health and you’re avoiding plastic (especially reheated plastic food containers which can also cause nasty health issues!)
10 // Do a “bin audit”
Once these changes have become second nature consider doing a “bin audit” and keep track of what items regularly go into your bin. Audit the bin over a week and you will quickly see where your problem areas lie and then you can look at ways to eliminate this kind of waste – it could be as simple as using loose-leaf tea and a teapot instead of teabags.
Emma Gibbs is the author of the zero waste and sustainability blog A Life Lived Lightly. You can follow her on Instagram @a.life.lived.lightly.