"Leveling up" on Zero Waste
"Leveling up" is a great way to approach changes. But doing it slowly and letting changes become part of your life is the key to zero-waste success. Read all about my successes and failures on my "levelling up" journey.
I really like the idea of "Leveling up" on your Zero Waste. There is always something more you can do, no matter where you are on your zero-waste journey to achieve a better result.
Generally speaking, I approach things with a very measured approach. So when I want to incorporate better eating habits or exercise into my life I go slow and make changes that I know will stick. Because essentially if you go in guns blazing sometimes you only achieve temporary changes and then you just go back to how you were living before.
Unfortunately, in 2018 I went in guns blazing into Plastic-free July! Which meant I ended up failing on a few fronts and felt disappointed in myself.
I lost weight when I found my restricted diet meant that I couldn't eat anything, I became a bit malnourished and I had an IBS flare-up that lasted for over a month.
I managed to burn the skin off my head after trying a "shampoo" suggestion. My scalp then became so sensitive, I had two weeks of hives and had to use 4 different types of medicated creams, lotions and pills for months.
I became sick and I didn't want to go to the doctor for fear of being prescribed a bunch of stuff in single-use packs like I did the previous year after getting the Flu. I ended up getting so sick I was bedridden with a nasal infection, chest infection, asthma and an ear infection.
My breaking point was when it was suggested to me on a Zero Waste Facebook group that I needed to become vegan to be truly Zero Waste.
I lost my Zero Waste shit!
I gave up, went to the shops and bought my first snickers bar in 2 years. I went to Kmart and bought a bunch of crap! Threw my food scraps in the landfill bin while I was out, then bought the kids Mcdonald's. LOTS!
Plastic free July BROKE ME. I was out!
Thankfully, I eventually got back on track after 6 months. But I now tackle things in a more measured way. I usually have a mantra of trying things slowly but that year for some reason I lost my mind. I have stopped listening to the judgement of other's and I realize that our family do things differently.
There is no way to be perfect, I can only try my best.
The only frustrating thing about what is happening to our planet is that there IS a greater sense of urgency right now, and changes are happening weather we like it or not.
So I do understand that changes need to be made.
But doing them slowly and not losing your shit and giving up is the key to success in my opinion.
About 5 years ago we started to become more waste mindful. I had been using my reusable bags for years, I have always been a recycler and bought second-hand clothing about 80% of the time. I had also been making and using my own oil-based moisturiser and toner for years.
But I felt it was time to "level up".
I started a compost bin, I started to buy some items from the bulk bins, We started to recycle all soft plastics, I stopped buying glitter for the kids crafts and overall we were being more mindful.
Level 2 ACHIEVED!
Three years ago I began to bring my own containers to refill items, I brought my glass jars to 'The Source' to refill on occasion. I started to bake a little and I invested in items like stainless steel pegs from Bento Ninja and bought solid shampoo. I stopped using glad wrap and started to use reusable food covers and wax wraps.
I found a great butcher in my area that let me bring in my own containers for free-range chicken and meat and sausages. I bought my fruit lose from the fruit shop.
I had a slight hiccup that year after Plastic Free July... but I did get back on track after 6 months.
Level 3 ACHIEVED!
Two years ago I began to reduce the amount of tea bags I used (did you know that most of the tea bags are made with plastic?). I collected so many glass jars that I am swimming in them now and I go to 'The Source', 'Bin Inn' and 'Huckeberrys' more often to refill items. I began taking my containers to get sushi and muffins from muffin break. I started to buy items in compostable packaging. I invested in reusable menstrual products (reusable period underwear and pads).
A Year ago I ditched buying most makeup and began making my own eyeshadow, lipstick, lip balm and foundation. I began making my own cleanser, facemasks and hyaluronic acid serum.
This year; 7 months in, we have only put out three full 80L landfill bins. We have reduced our meat intake and eat more locally sourced vegetables.
I think at this stage I am somewhere between Level 3 and Level 4... I'm not totally sure. But I am feeling good about where we are.
ALL THE ZERO WASTE LEVELS YOU COULD TRY
Level 1 -
Recycle, compost, use reusable bags, reduce your outgoing landfill waste by being more mindful, use a keep cup and water bottle, buy metal straws, and recycle soft plastics.
Reduce your outgoing landfill waste to one bin every 2 weeks.
Level 2 -
Reduce certain luxuries (ask yourself if you really need them). Buy second-hand clothes and items. Buy fruit and vegetables not wrapped in plastic.
Mend items rather than throw them out, swap your glad wrap with wax wraps, food covers or use containers. Try a bamboo toothbrush and try toothpaste in glass jars.
Choose glass, aluminium and stainless steel over plastic packaging. Use reusable items such as reusable nappies and menstrual products. Reduce your non-essential car trips.
Reduce your outgoing landfill waste to one bin every month.
Level 3 -
Bring glass jars and purchase items from bulk bin stores. Replace items when they run out with better alternatives like reusable makeup pads, compostable baking paper and plastic-free cotton buds.
Replace some of your single-use plastic items like muesli bars and biscuits and try baking your own.
Clean your house with fewer plastic packaging items - ingredients such as baking soda, Castille soap, Dazz cleaning tablets, refill your cleaning supplies from a bulk bin place or just clean with good old hot soapy water rather than cleaning products in plastic containers. buy items in compostable packaging such as chips from Proper Crisps.
Make a package-free lunchbox. Go without bin liners. Reduce your car use and walk or bike where possible.
Reduce your outgoing landfill waste to one bin every 2 months.
Level 4 -
Taking containers to buy meat from a butchery. Ditch the plastic teabags for loose leaf. Buy most of your groceries at bulk bin places. Replace all your plastic bottles of soap, face wash, moisturiser and shampoo and either refill them, buy in bar form or make your own.
Take your own containers to get your takeaways and lunches in like sushi or muffin break. Grow your own produce and produce swap with other people. Bake bread. Source your milk straight from the farm in glass or metal jars. Join a food collective so you can buy your food in bulk to spread out the costs and reduce plastic. Reduce your meat intake. Wrap presents in reusable fabric instead of wrapping paper. Use public transport or walk or bike more often.
Reduce your outgoing landfill waste to one bin every 3 months.
Level 5 -
Reduce your meat intake and animal products dramatically. Buy consumables like toilet paper without plastic packaging. Make your own nut milk.
Only buy clothing made from natural sources like cotton, hemp and merino if buying new. Purchase nothing you don't need. Use public transport or walk or bike most of the time.
Reduce your outgoing landfill waste to one or two bins a year.
What I imagine Level 10 would be...
Level 10 -
Live naked on an island living a raw, plant-based diet using leaves as toilet paper.
Maybe level 10 isn't quite 100% achievable long term for most people however lol.
Obviously doing all this all at once is daunting, which is why I like the "levelling up" idea. making changes over time that stick is what is important.
Because small changes make a big difference!
Please let me know what you are doing to reduce your waste and whether the idea of leveling up works for you.