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Living Zero-Waste & Treading More Gently On The Planet

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I want my children's children’s children to witness the beauty we get to see on this earth — the magical sunrises and sunsets, the beaches, the mountains, the rainforests, the lakes, the bushes, the trees, the parks, the flowers and not to mention all the beautiful animals. 

But right now, Mama Earth is speaking to us and she wants us to listen up.

I want to tread as lightly as I possibly can on her and leave her in the best shape I can for future generations, but at this rate, that may not happen unless we make some key changes now. And it all starts with YOU in your very own home. What you do inside your four walls matters, so start there! 

My intention is to live a zero-waste life so that I can protect our earth as much as I possibly can. Am I always 100% perfect? No. But ‘perfection’ is not what it’s about. My intention is what matters most, and simply doing my best each day is what matters the most to me.

So today, I want to share with you loads of things you can do to live a zero-waste life and how you can tread a little more gently on this beautiful earth. 

Right now, Mama Earth is speaking to us and she wants us to listen up.
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For The Kitchen

  1. Stop buying water in plastic bottles. Get yourself a Hydrogen Health glass water bottle that filters the water and re-hydrogenates it (use the code MATRIBE to get 15% off). Carry this with you everywhere, travel with it, and you will never need to buy a plastic bottle of water ever again. You can also get your whole house filtered so all the water you shower in and drink is clean and you can fill up your water at home and take it out with you. 
  2. Stop using plastic altogether. Glass and stainless-steel containers of all shapes and sizes can be cleaned and reused over and over again, and easily transported. Not to mention plastic wreaks havoc on your hormones.  
  3. Take your own bags to the farmers market or store so you don’t have to resort to getting plastic shopping bags. 
  4. Reduce, recycle, reuse and refill. Make that your motto.
  5. Start composting. Contact your local council and find out where your local composting bins are or take your weekly compost to your farmers markets as they would love to have your compost. Look to see if your community offers a curbside or drop-off composting program.
  6. Try Vermicomposting, where red wiggler worms quickly transform organic matter into usable compost. These clean, simple, efficient systems are useful for those who don’t have space for an outdoor compost pile.
  7. Sort your bins out. We have 3 bins in our kitchen. One is for compost, one is for recycling, and one is for general waste that goes into landfill — our intention for this last one is for it to have nothing in it, we are still working on it. 
  8. Say no to plastic straws. If you need straws or like using them, opt for a reusable one, like a glass or bamboo one, and carry one in your bag for when you’re out.
  9. Take your own mug to get your coffee in the morning. Not only is drinking boiling hot coffee or tea out of a plastic or styrofoam cup extremely toxic for your hormones, but that cup you’re clutching is headed straight for landfill. So please take your own reusable cup with you for your coffee or quit the habit altogether. It’s not good for you.
  10. Stop buying single servings. Buy the largest size available or buy in bulk and divide it into smaller eco-smart containers.
  11. Reduce your animal product consumption. Going from meat-eater to vegan for a whole day saves as much CO2 as a gallon of gas! Whether it’s meatless Monday or a vegetarian/vegan month, the easiest and quickest way to reduce carbon emissions is by changing your diet.
  12. Reduce how much you consume in the first place.
  13. Buy biodegradable bin liners or stop buying them altogether. We don’t have any bin bags or liners. We simply wash our bins out and spray some high-quality essential oils in there after we empty them. Simple! 
  14. Shop at the farmers’ market and bulk food stores like Source and Scoop and take your own jars and bags to fill up.
  15. If you have to get takeaway, bring your own stainless steel containers and bamboo cutlery. Better yet, pack your own lunch so you don't have to eat out. It’s better for your wallet and your health.
  16. Vote with your dollar. Spend your money at stores that make the effort to introduce innovative packaging or low impact goods, and support individual companies that do the same.
  17. Eliminate disposable paper products. Rather than paper towels and napkins, choose reusable cloth versions. You’ll quickly save money over costly disposables.
  18. Minimize food waste. Make the right amount. Freeze or revive leftovers, repurpose food scraps into jams and sauces, and stretch your food dollar by meal planning.
  19. Cook up biodiesel. You can’t pour used cooking oil down the drain (it causes clogs) or compost it. However, you can donate cooking oil to be recycled into biodiesel fuel.
  20. Buy food without packaging or minimal packaging.
  21. Try canning to preserve food.
  22. Store your food properly to make it last longer.
  23. Try Wheatless Wednesdays to cut back on intensive grain farming or cut it out altogether.
  24. Keep a stocked pantry to avoid getting takeout on busy nights.
  25. Swap sponges in lieu of compostable scrubs or brushes.
  26.  Join a community garden.
  27. Swap tea bags for loose leaf tea in a reusable strainer.

For The Bathroom

  1. Use essential oils to make all your own skin and beauty products. Not only is it way better for the environment (think of all those plastic bottles your products come in), but for your health too, because whatever we put on our skin gets absorbed straight into our bloodstream.
  2. For the ladies; all your monthly sanitary items are going straight into landfill so get yourself a Juju cup and organic cotton washable pads you can reuse each month.
  3. Swap your plastic toothbrush (once it’s no longer usable) for a bamboo toothbrush.
  4. Try to avoid palm oil. Hint: It’s in most skin and beauty products.
  5. Make a dry shampoo and use that to stretch the time between washes.
  6. Use bar soap instead of liquid soap, it tends to come with less packaging.
  7. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth.   
  8. Try organic cloth nappies.
  9. Beware of greenwashing, always do your research.
  10. Look into tree-free loo paper.
  11. Keep a bucket in the shower to water plants or flush the toilet.  

General Living

  1. Before you purchase anything, ask yourself, ‘Do I really need this, or could I make-do or borrow or rent this from a friend, or get it from a second-hand store?’   
  2. Start thinking circularly. How can you give something as much life as possible? Can you rent it, share it, reuse it, repair it, repurpose it, redesign it, or get it second hand, and in the end recycle it or compost it?
  3. If you do need to buy something online, email them and tell them you want your order to come with zero plastic and most companies will do that for you which is awesome. 
  4. Only buy zero waste alternatives once your non-zero waste items run out. Because buying something then throwing it out unused is pretty wasteful, right?! For example: if you just spent an arm and a leg on razor refills, use them up. No sense in throwing away an unused item. But once they’re out, switch to the zero-waste alternative.
  5. Never throw anything away. Find a way to donate, fix, reuse or sell the items. 
  6. Find a way to reuse an old item whenever you can. Donate items, or gift them to friends. The goal of zero waste living is to keep matter out of landfills. And for everything else, look for a TerraCycle program. They’ve found a way to recycle just about anything.
  7. Ditch tissues for homemade handkerchiefs made out of your old sheets. 
  8. Always say ‘no thank you’ to free promotional items and samples. They tend to be cheap and break easily, have way too much packaging, and you probably don’t need them anyway.
  9. Pop a ‘No junk mail’ sign on your letterbox.
  10. Have swap, sell or borrow clothes parties with your girlfriends.
  11. Turn old sheets and towels into handkerchiefs, rags, napkins, makeup remover face cloths and cloth produce bags.
  12. Wash clothes when they are actually dirty, instead of after only one wear. We live by the ‘smell or stain’ test. Unless it smells or has an actual stain on it, we keep wearing it. 
  13. Instead of buying something when you're having a bad day and doing retail therapy, do something that’s actually positive for your headspace, like going for a walk, meditating, taking a yoga class, or meeting up with a friend.
  14. Change light bulbs to LEDs.
  15. Don't buy anything impulsively!
  16. Get some houseplants at a local nursery to purify your air, and don't forget to return the little plastic pots!
  17. Get rid of pests naturally. 
  18. Unplug electronics when not in use.
  19. Plant a small garden.
  20. Learn how to freeze your food without plastic so it doesn't go to waste.
  21. Look into collecting rainwater or installing a greywater system.
  22. Line dry your washing instead of using the dryer.
  23. Always run a full dishwasher or load of clothes.
  24. If it's a 30 minute or less walk to get somewhere, get outside instead of driving.
  25. Vote with your dollars for a sustainable future.
  26. Look into rechargeable batteries instead of disposables.
  27. Learn how to repair a button or hem to extend the life of your clothing.
  28. Don’t buy wrapping paper and when someone gifts you a present keep the wrapping paper and re-use it. 
  29. For birthdays and Christmas focus on experiences rather than things.
  30. Wash your clothes in cold water when you can.
  31. Make homemade gifts to give to friends and family.
  32. Learn where to properly dispose of items like gift cards, old cell phones, batteries and unusable cords. Your local electrical or grocery store likely offers responsible disposal and recycling bins especially for these items.
  33. Go paperless for all your bills and bank statements.
  34. Pick up rubbish on your morning walk and dispose of it properly.
  35. Avoid receipts when out, ask if one has to be printed. Sometimes they do, but not always.
  36. Take public transit if available or carpool.

The key is to not get overwhelmed and simply try one thing this week and then another next week. Get your whole family involved and make it a fun game (kids love games).

Remember, ‘perfection’ is not the goal, action is.

Now I would LOVE to hear from you. Have I missed anything? Do you have any tips to add to this epic list? Please pop them below and let’s create a long list of things we can return back to time and time again. 

And before I go, I just wanted to say thank you so much for caring about our beautiful earth. She needs us right now and YOU are making a difference by simply caring. 

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