Why Waste Free, and Our First Steps

Why now? Is probably the more appropriate question. This is not the first time Scott and I have thought about living waste free but it is the first time we are doing something about it. Many a time I have stood staring at the plastic wrapped something on the supermarket shelf, thinking how this one thing, possibly just this one meal will leave behind such a heavy, toxic burden for Earth and our future generations to bear. How is that okay? How is it justifiable? Well, in the past we have had to justify it. We have children to feed, we live on a low income, and importantly it is so bloody hard NOT to buy plastic packaged, wrapped, sealed, stickered, contained, bagged, tagged, tied everything within this system that has been forced upon our lives.

So, why now? Firstly, we have been triggered into action by our mainland journey. Whilst away we stayed at some breathtaking places, some lovely places, and some quite mundane and trying places; some were large, some small, and some we were the only people there. But we were always connected with Earth; the cycles of day and night and the seasons, the elements, the land, water, plants and trees, and the animals and insects. And everywhere we went we left behind our rubbish. Bags of it. Lots of it. It was impossible not to. We were, of course, responsible with our rubbish but it was created nonetheless and that can never be undone.

Secondly, simply, now is better than later and it is the right thing to do. I don’t have lots of facts and statistics about how messed up Earth is becoming, or has already become, I actually find the truth too scary to dwell on, but I have my intuition. I know what is acceptable, respectful, and healthy for our Earth in all her forms, and our bodies, and plastic is none of these. Plastic is not needed.

We have now been transitioning to waste free living (or as close to waste free as our family can be) for about 5 weeks. It will be an ongoing journey and we still have a long way to go to be at a place where I’m content. It is a challenging journey that takes commitment and discipline, and I know that we will not always be perfect but we are doing this, and we will do our very best. And, it’s exciting! It takes guts to go against an ingrained system but it is so rewarding to know you are living by your own standards, morals, and ethics, not just blindly following the often misguided convention, which is too often there to largely benefit those at the top.

Our first steps have mainly been in the kitchen and the bathroom.

In the bathroom I am now making our own toothpaste and I have implemented a system of family cloth. We were already using natural, plant based, locally made soap that we are continuing to use, and for cleaning I am buying eucalyptus oil from a naturopathic apothecary where the bottle can be refilled. We were also already using the most earth friendly, waste free, biodegradable toothbrushes that I could find so will be continuing to buy these. I have made Strong some cloth nappies for night times (he does not wear a nappy during the day as we have been practicing elimination communication on and off for a few months and are now consistently), and I plan on making my own moon pads.

The kitchen is big for us. It is our main waste producer and we are very much food lovers, Scott being a chef, and I a very enthusiastic vegan! Being unschoolers we are home a lot and with our children all the time so there’s a lot of food preparation going on! So, firstly we began to be much more prepared for our food shopping trips, and where and how we shop has changed quite dramatically. I now make sure we always take our reusable bags when shopping, we have increasingly been taking our own jars, containers, and cloth bags for nearly all our food items, and we now mostly shop at farmer’s markets for fresh and locally made food and a wholefoods shop for nearly everything else. The supermarket has thankfully now become a shop that we only purchase a few items we are still relying on, the most important of these being Scott’s cow milk in plastic bottles (which we recycle) until we can hopefully find a dairy where we can purchase milk in affordable, reusable bottles, passata in glass bottles (which we are reusing) until we make our own tomato puree when tomatoes are in season (very soon, Yay!), and tofu in horrid plastic packaging but this will not be for much longer as I have ordered nigari (an ingredient needed to curdle soy milk) from the wholefoods shop and will begin to make our own very soon. And when we need a food item that we can’t buy using our own container we look for the best option available and buy as large a quantity as we can afford.

I am now making our own soy milk and almond milk, cashew cheese and cream, and vegan parmesan. Scott is making a lot of our own bread and otherwise we are buying bread from the local organic bakery using our own bags. We have always made most of our food from scratch but now we are endeavouring to be as self responsible as we can possibly be, making as much of our food from raw, whole ingredients as we are able. I have also just purchased a kombucha culture and stater tea and am super excited about making our own delicious kombucha!

In addition when we go out we are making sure to remember our water bottles, and containers if we think we might be buying any food to take away. Recently I bought Star some take away sushi when we were out all day; I had a container for the sushi but forgot about the horrid little soy sauce fish! I am now taking a small travel bottle of tamari with us if we are going out on one of our big shopping days in Hobart. We have also and very importantly stopped buying any spontaneous packaged snacks and treats when we are out.

In essence, we have begun to be very mindful of everything we buy. When it comes to non food item purchases we are buying secondhand whenever possible. We already bought our clothes from op shops and love the tip shops for other household items, and of course online local trading of secondhand goods is a great option.

Lastly but not in the least, we have got back into our garden since arriving home, giving it some love and energy. It is not a huge garden, we have actually scaled down it’s size so we are not overwhelming ourselves with responsibility and upkeep that we cannot maintain (which has happened before) but we hope that it will provide us with a small tasting of our vegetable needs over the coming seasons.

And, we have lots of plans! Summer is a time where we look towards preserving and whatever we can do to prolong Earth’s beautiful bounty of fresh fruit! There are so many exciting opportunities!

We have only taken our first steps but we are already noticing a drastic reduction in our waste accumulation, and I hope in the near future that I can look back and see how we have moved towards a waste free life in huge bounds!

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