#ZeroWasteForMay: This is what I learnt going ZERO WASTE for 4 weeks (plus a video Q&A!)

zero waste for 1 month

Woah guys I’M DONE!!!!!

The excitement it SO real! Even though it really wasn’t bad at all!

See my last and final video for #ZeroWasteForMay (QandA style)

It’s been such an amazing journey! I thought I would use my last post as an opportunity to share the most important points with y’all 😉

Most importantly: Why did I do this challenge?

Everything is explained in the video above, but I really want to focus on WHY I did this challenge, and what I learnt from doing it – afterall, you need motivation for doing ANYTHING in life, and to keep making a difference you need to realize the true impact of your actions.

DEEP.

Well, yes it is. I often feel like we are just ostriches sticking our heads in the sand. Sure, we all agree certain issues are bad and something needs to be done about it…but somehow we always assume “someone else” will take care of it.

Most of the time, that “someone else” never arrives to swoop in and save the day. Much like with this specific issue: HUMAN BEINGS PRODUCE TOO MUCH WASTE!

What does that mean?

We go about our daily lives, buying individually packaged fruits and vegetables, using plastic straws and so forth…we dump it all in the garbage…and then we forget about it.

Ever stop to think where it all goes?

plastic waste
Source: National Geographic

I guess we all assume it goes to a landfill – but have you ever thought: there are 9 billion people on the planet producing waste, surely space is running out?

Yes. Yes it is. Another problem, is what happens to the waste when it gets dumped in a landfill.

That space cannot be reused! I get super nervous when I think about all the people on the planet, and how VITAL space is to us – to feed the population, to feed our biodiversity, and to keep our planet alive.

Additionally, when our trash is lying there, more trash gets dumped on top of it. Then more and more. The organic waste, like the fruit, meat and vegetable scraps start to ferment anaerobically (without oxygen), and produce toxic chemicals that leach into the ground and air.

Then, the other stuff is usually all kinds of plastics. These won’t budge. They will not decompose.

Actually, most of our plastic waste ends up in other places…

Like the ocean:

Source: Greenpeace

 

THE “WHY” IN SUMMARY: Human waste is a major issue we can’t ignore forever, and it’s about time we start taking responsibility for our actions and start caring for our home: Earth.

Kay, so that was my motivation for doing this challenge.

Now on to what I learnt in the process…

Quite simply, I learnt that I throw away SO MUCH that can actually be reused! And I buy things in unnecessary packaging. Also, convenience is going to be the death of us.

“I throw away SO MUCH that can actually be reused”.

Here, I am referring to 90% of what I usually buy. During this challenge, I forced myself to compost all my organic waste – which included all fruit and vegetable food scraps, meat (although I didn’t eat much of it), coffee grounds, egg shells, and even paper from paper bags.

My friends at Earth Probiotic were kind enough to supply me with an EPIC composting kit to help me throughout this challenge. I made a video showing you exactly how to use it, but basically, it is a special black composting bin that comes with this special food digester stuff. Magic! I’ve had my composting bin in my kitchen for the past 4 weeks – and there is STILL NO YUCKY SMELL!

Then glass jars! Wow, do I have new appreciation for these babies!

Throughout the past month, I visited a bunch of plastic-free grocery shops to stock up on store-cupboard stuff, fresh produce and all kinds of other wonderful things. The best part, is that these shops encourage you to bring your own jars and containers to fill up with whatever strikes your fancy. So yeah, I was rummaging around my flat trying to find every jar I could lay my hands on!

These days, you will most certainly catch me reusing all my containers (think old pesto, tomato sauce, feta…I was shocked how much I threw away before!).

“I buy things in unnecessary packaging”.

I think we are all guilty of this one! Step into any supermarket, and the shelves are overflowing with individually packaged goods. The other day, I visited a supermarket again just to have a look, and for the first time, I was appalled when seeing things like: individually packaged avocados and peppers, a large pack of sweets with each one individually wrapped, salad packs with about 5 smaller packs of ingredients like feta and seeds, a plastic-wrapped tray of chicken breasts all individually wrapped. I could go on forever.

So, as mentioned above, by visiting the plastic-free grocery shops I didn’t need to throw away any packaging. But going forward, I might not be able to visit these shops all the time. I think it will already be a big help, just to avoid extra packaging as mentioned above.

Buy things in bulk, buy meat from the butchery section, avoid all goods that are individually packaged, try and buy things in reusable containers (think glass!), and avoid using plastic straws.

On that topic: For those of you on Discovery Vitality, or who just love grabbing a smoothie after a workout…ditch the plastic straw! During the past month, I redeemed my active rewards by taking my coffee mug and asking the lovely ladies at the counter to put my smoothie in it 😊

“Convenience is going to be the death of us”.

This is pretty much at THE CORE of this problem. And together with that – LAZINESS.

We buy things in packaging and throw things away because it is convenient and we are LAZY! I must say it was quite a challenge to fight this instinct that has been bred into me by society these days.

For the past month, I FORCED myself.

It’s safe to say that the ENTIRE month was extremely uncomfortable and inconvenient.

  • I couldn’t run to the supermarket to get ANYTHING
  • I couldn’t eat meat because all of it was packaged or at least came with a barcode that could not be composted
  • I couldn’t buy tinned beans, and had to get dried ones and cook them from scratch
  • Every time I drank wine, I had to keep the bottle and figure out a way to reuse it
  • I had to put effort into managing my compost

Sounds like a mish, right?

Initially, it was…but towards the end it became a lot easier 😊 All it took was planning ahead. If you watched my WEEK 1 video diary, you would have noticed that I didn’t start off planning very well haha! This challenge required me to plan my time very carefully. I had to plan my weekends so that I visited one of the plastic-free grocery shops to stock up on food, because I work during the week, and the shops are a mission to get to in peak-hour traffic after work!

I got new appreciation for the saying: FAIL TO PLAN, THEN PLAN TO FAIL!

All it takes is a little effort to make a BIG difference.

I want to keep forcing myself NOT TO BE LAZY.

Here are a few things I want to keep doing after this challenge:

  1. Visiting a plastic-free grocery shop to stock up on store-cupboard stuff like spices, grains, legumes, as well as washing powder and soaps. This doesn’t have to be inconvenient, Nude Foods is located in Gardens so maybe pop in for a lovely breakfast at Bootleggers on a Saturday morning and then pop over to the shop. Shop Zero is right by the Biscuitmill in Woodstock…so perhaps go there every other Saturday after foodie overload at the Biscuitmill Market.
  2. COMPOSTING!!!! Yes, I want to continue doing this! And use the compost to grow a lovely herb garden.
  3. Grow my own herbs to prevent buying those plastic herb packets.
  4. Avoid buying individually packaged produce.
  5. Buy things in reusable packaging – glass as far as possible.
  6. Buy more things in bulk. There are so many things I will always need, so there really is no point in buying them every week (think toilet paper, and other hygiene products).
  7. Eat as close to nature as possible by avoiding processed foods that come in packaging, and instead buying fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, eggs and nuts.

I’m going to stop there before this post gets WAAAAYYYY too long and it takes you 10 years to read! But please feel free to ask questions or drop me an email 😊 Would love to hear from you!

 

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