Frustrations with the Zero waste home

So… I’m getting myself all a tither with another blogger in the blogosphere – and there’s no way I can whinge without you knowing who it is.  I’m hoping I can be an adult, and rationalise it all, and work through it, so here’s hoping!

Bea Johnson runs  Overall, I’m totally on board with lessening the waste we create and using less of the world’s resources.  So why do I find myself losing my patience with her?

1. To get to zero waste, and the slick look of her house (which I won’t insert photos of, cause I need to ask for permission, so head to her site, surely a LOT of stuff had to be donated – not refused, not reused, but recycled.  Perhaps I got on board with her movement too late?

2. I can’t ‘search’ her blog to find the ‘start’ of the journey (or what she does with a certain hiccup in my route to zerowaste).  There is a tag cloud, but no ‘in the beginning ..’ Which brings me to the next point:

3. The answer to a lot of questions on her facebook stream is to suggest the topic is covered in the book.  Now, to me, selling a book isn’t a wastefree proposition.  To be sure, like any other book, I’ll be borrowing it from the library. (And I know that won’t earn her any commission as much as if I bought it AND the library did, but I’m not feeling charitable here!)

4. What compromises has she had to make to get to zero waste?  Has she plainly done without certain foods or products – to support her number 1 objective of zero waste?

5. Comments are closed on old posts – this frustrated me.  When I find a post with something relevant, I’d like to ask something – rather than starting a fresh comment on her Facebook page (where the lack of ‘string’ to a blog topic being better suited).

Plastic Free June

So, it’s meant to be Plastic Free July, but I was a eager beaver? Or figured it might help others to start analysing before it’s too late for you readers to get on board.

On Friday 1 June, I started collecting all my waste that wasn’t destined for the worm farm or recycling.  I didn’t photograph the following no longer so fresh ingredients: onion skins and ends, lemons, and off ricotta cheese and similar.  None of these are OK for the worm farm.

I’ve also skipped photographing dental floss and cotton buds.

But the rest… in photographic glory.  A third of the way through the month.

Treated myself to 12 coloured pens for decorating my paper journal

Top is the wires and flowers not used to make a flower crown. Bottom left is the not rubber bands and floristry tape. A single use Opal card the day I forgot my normal card. A wrapped for a tin of mints. The little inner cap from a bottle of sauce.

Top left is the plastic sleeve from a card, and the seal from the envelope. On top is a sheet from tablets – this was a month on one sheet, better than a week per sheet :s. A cucumber wrapper and asparagus plasque. Foam trays which I will return and cling wrap from these trays and other vege. A dirty plastic peanut butter jar.

Top right is a yarn bag full of plastic sleeve from two weeks of flower purchases – for church and a flower crown

Ok, so what could I do better with?

Flowers are part of my volunteering time, and I really enjoy the creation of ‘things’.  No all flowers come wrapped in plastic, but it’s not possible to get certain types with plastic wrap.  I can RedCycle this plastic though; along with the cling film from fruit and vege trays. The green tape is from making a flower crown and not something I use most of the time; like the wires.

Fruit foam trays will go back to the local green grocer where I expect them to be reused, as it’s a sole trader.  I buy cheaply priced items like this – those aiming to prevent food waste.  Also, snow peas and sugar snaps ONLY come on trays.  I reuse the large plastic bag from grocery store spinach and refill at the green grocer 🙂

Pen packaging and in time the pens.  You can buy pens loose, but I did like the price ($12.50 for 12.  A militant zero waster would have done without.  And I’ll admit I have some coloured pens from scouring the work stationary supplies.

Cucumber of the lebanese variety are always wrapped.  And others aren’t. (Aside: I paid $3 (!!) for a singular cuc yest!).  I have found that the long Lebanese cucumbers can last longer, grow less mould and shrivel less.  I will RedCycle the plastic.  I buy a cucumber a week on average, and this was the first Lebanese is a long time.

Peanut butter jar is a tricky one.  I’ve worked to use a spatular to get as much as possible out.  I can wash it up.  Or give it to the dog as a game to getting to the last scraps – she’d love that I reckon.

Circling back to the unphotographed waste – I am planning to go back to buying plastic free cotton buds, as I feel even if they end up in landfill, longer term they have a chance of breaking down in a way that plastic tubes in cotton buds do not.

I think will this account complete, I’ll take out the trash (with the cheese, onion and lemons) with the items that won’t RedCycle.

How do you think your bin audit would fare?

2018 Goals

Back in 2017, I still used my blog as a place to ‘put’ thoughts.  Not always to publish! And look what I found, a list of things for 2018.  What’s great is that I have updated on a few!

Plan a weekend in Canberra for Floriade

A week or two ago, I picked a weekend and booked an Airbnb.  That’s it, I’m now committed before other things crowd out my calendar.  And I have a car, so that bits easier than in some years gone by. Coincidently, Floriade is the same name the Dutch use for their flower show, says my DUtch friend.

Try rowing, in summer

Not yet, but summer comes again in 2018…

Attempt a monthly ‘browse’ of a book store, cause it makes me happy!

I haven’t really done this.  But what I did do, was ask for Christmas to have a membership to a bookstore.  The upside is free entry to book launches and talks.  I also get no postage in Australia and a discount, but given I seldom buy books, I’m not too fussed about those details.  I have bought one book this year, and one book voucher.  And I’ve ‘nicked’ a few books from free libraries.

Getting into ordering Who Gives A Crap toilet paper

The reason I didn’t do this sooner, was that they come in BIG boxes and now I have a big home this year, I’m a bit better at storing them.  They were set up for auto resend, but when I got the reminder, I was a LONG way from running out of toilet paper, so I pushed in out more.  I’m pleased I’ve gone ‘plastic free’ on one more item.

Set up composting at my parents/my house

YES! I ended up with a worm farm for my birthday.  It lives in the garage. After the period of using Bokashi in the loft, I can tell you, the worm farm is way less smelly!

Grow a garden!

It took a while to get going, and only my parents return at Easter gave me the kick in the butt to get onto it.  But I’m please to have five vegetables growing now.

Something is eating my broccolini

Cabbage is also tasty to the slugs

Plastic Free July 2017

I’m delighted to see friends, from different spheres of life, announcing their intentions on Plastic Free July! It warms my heart.  As this is a public blog, many of my friends know I have posted at length about my Zero Waste hopes and intentions!

So, what am I doing for Plastic Free July?

  1. Use it up challenge for moisturisers.  I have a handful of small containers (from flights or samples) of moisturiser.  I’m not a regular moisturiser user, so… there’s that! The idea is to get to one bottle, and then refill it (where, I haven’t sorted yet).

The use is up area. Notice anything Lucinda?

Ok a numbered list might have been overkill there!

Let’s revise what changes I’ve made since blogging (and for long term readers, it’s a check in and update on this post). It’s great to see progress in four years (items in italics)

This is what I have on me most days

  1. Joco glass cup for take away coffees daily, upgrading from plastic keep cups
  2. Glass bottle with silicone sleeve – a bit heavier than the steel one I lost, but pretty
  3. Bamboo cutlery – always in my handbag, to say no to single use packs.  It was a ‘gift with purchase’, which I’m thankful for 🙂
  4. Bamboo straw – a recent addition to the cutlery in my handbag.  Still mastering learning ‘when’ I might need to warn against a straw.
  5. Fold up shopping bag – also always in my handbag with 3 & 4
  6. Pyrex glass dishes with plastic lids – this removes almost all my need for cling film or similar disposable
  7. Hessian bags for grocery shopping (cough… or work out bag.  Nothing if not multi purpose)
  8. Deodorant – years ago I tried Lush and it’s so so, I also found a cardboard ‘pop top’ style deodorant, which is even poorer at odour control.  But these two are all I’m using currently
  9. Shampoo bar from Lush – I do re-use stockings with runs, to hold fragments together
  10. Lunette menstrual cup – not ideal I have two, but one seemed to cause bad smells
  11. Cotton buds with cardboard stems – so at least there’s a little less plastic
  12. Toothbrush – it’s bamboo with charcol bristles

Stylishly plastic free

  1. Bottle brushes – again, no plastic.  How often do I was my bottle? Not enough!
  2. Glass blender – I freecycled a plastic one, then bought second hand a glass one.  Small things, but all are minimal waste.

Things I need to work on:

  1. Toothpaste – or perhaps tooth powder.  I want something that works for travel as well as day to day.  So far, a powder has seemed a little ‘far gone’
  2. Conditioner – solids ones are a fail (from my trial), but I can either get a Lush bottle (you can return their containers – not clear if for refill or recycling) or refill at a bulk store
  3. Dental floss – I tried and failed with silk thread… SInce then, there’s a great company  in Germany who provide it in a glass vial, then Dental lace from the US
  4. Face wash – I have two.  One is the biggest I can get (Cetaphil) but the other was a purchase when I forgot to pack face wash
  5. Body wash – I have one that’s scented; another is an exfoliant
  6. Razors – one handle, and only replacing the head.  Perhaps when I’m through the blade heads, I should look at a plastic free option, but there’s a little fear.
  7. Freezer food – so, since I’ve been single, I’ve resulted in buying and eating meals ready-to-eat from the freezer.  They are cheap.  They have more vegetables than I’d otherwise be bothered with.  The containers are recyclable, but the soft plastic is often soiled and NOT recycled.  I’m icky that I’m this lazy.

Things that are acceptable passes for me

  1. Band aids
  2. Medication or painkillers in blister packs
  3. Ear plugs – I use them for SO long, but they are foam which isn’t recyclable
  4. Storage of bulk items (flours etc) as they aren’t heated, and 2kg of rice is heavy without ALSO storing it in glass
  5. Dish sponges – still cut in half to use one for longer. Though I could retry natural alternatives or options

Finally, some things are just building habits.  Things like:

  • preparing to grocery shop, so taking your bags
  • thinking to take a Joco cup for a coffee, or having a sit down coffee
  • storing cutlery, fabric serviette and a straw in my handbag with a fold up shopping bag
  • planning to refill certain items from a bulk store
  • planning when and where to drop off compost at community gardens with compost bins. Thankfully there’s one near the library I go to

Why aren’t mega-corporations worried about their image

If I owned a business, however small, I would HATE to see my bags/covers/containers defaced. Wouldn’t it be horrible to spend all that time and money on designed a beautiful ‘container’, and making it (out of paper, or plastic or wood or whatever) for it to be muddied? Defaced? Defiled? Having to mark up prices to my lovely customers, so that I could cover the costs of packaging?

A litter pile I walk past weekly.
A litter pile I walk past weekly.

Wouldn’t my image suffer every time someone saw my businesses name in a trash heap? In a little pile in a garden bed?  Lying on train tracks? Why don’t companies care?  Why don’t Coke and McDonalds and SO MANY OTHERS care that they are showing their dead, empty, lifeless product in muddy, grotty, run down places? Seeing a dingy fries packet or bottle of soft drink doesn’t make me think ‘mmmm, I’d love me some of that!’  It just makes me cringe.  Cringe at the grot.  Cringe at the people who littered. But I just don’t get it – isn’t this the WORST advertising ever? Sure, they put Ronald McDonald on the back of things, showing him slam dunking his packaging into a bin, but it’s not inspiring enough, evidently!

Dont litter icon
Dont litter icon

I know any publicity is good publicity, but how come governments (or consumers) saying that this isn’t good enough?   I mean, it’s not guess who’s causing the waste – it’s the companies making the products. Now, changing tack for a minute, if you sit down on the bus, and beside you there’s a coat.  Something someone has left behind, most caring rational people’s reaction would be to try and find the owner.  Ask around – work out who just vacated the seat.  It’s in our nature to ‘put things right’. So, with that in mind, why aren’t we picking up a piece of labelled, branded container, and thinking ‘who’s is this’?  Or are we such a single use society that everything we get must be ours for keeps (unless we pay some deposit to secure the return – like towels or sheets at a hostel). I imagine trash crusaders, sorting their collections into mega corporations, and politely (or perhaps not so politely) depositing them at the headquarters, asking for compensation.  For the time taken to clean up the space? I know I’m dreaming of a utopia world, but it just seems so logical to me to find out who owns the trash and hold them accountable.

What do you think?

Trash review

First, this is gold, from trash talking Republicans:

For the past few months, I’ve held off the cleaner from emptying the bathroom bin.  Cause I’m a nutso.

Here’s what I know

  • we use many plastic/foil sheets of medications, prescription or otherwise.  It’s the standard way to get pain killer or anything in Australia.  Thankfully, vitamins etc come in bottle.
  • shaving cream: I have no idea what makes up those pressurised canisters!?  And not too different to asthma medication sprays too…
  • band aids: the plasticised slips they come in, and their mixed media fabric and adhesive make up
  • floss & floss picks: I tried and failed with a compostable alternative. The BF prefers the picks, and I promote his efforts in dental hygiene, waste be damned.
  • expired tubes of medication, and toothpaste – there’s no way I’m at ‘tooth powder’ stage in a zero waste journey, so that’ll stay.

There’s two or three positives:

  • toliet tubes: I recycle those
  • hair: I loved having a shaved head, but now I have more ‘normal’ (for me) length hair, there’s a lot of it that comes out in a hairbrush.  Thankfully, it’s natural (no colours/dyes) so I will consider composting it
  • cotton buds: something I can’t do without, but I sought out organic cotton with cardboard sticks which I feel better about than plastic sticks

Overall, I would love to know more about those ‘jar of trash’ stars, and how they deal with my bag of items in the first list.  It abandoning some convenience and habits the only way?  Do they never cut themselves or have a headache…?

Cosmetic, toliteries and places I could declutter more

Some may recall a time when I was a prolific blogger.  A single-don.  I blogged about what was in my bathroom drawers.  Naturally, it was a titillating post that took the internet by storm.  A few years later. In my local readership of blogs, being An Exacting Life and Declutterer.  So you know, worldwide sensation.

I have returned to share with the shared (but mainly my stuff) contents of the bathroom cupboards, drawers and surrounds.

Bath surrounds

Daily use
Daily use


SO we have
– 2 shampoo bottles (BF not good as ‘using the last of’ apple shampoo)
– 2 solid shampoo bars
– 1 conditioner
– 2 face washes (Cetaphil) – one inverted so it’s almost dead
– 1 make up remover
– 2 body washes (L’Occitane Rose and Body Shop Camomile)
– 2 razors

Pretty much the sum of my frustration – so many ‘two of’ items.  The two shampoo bars?  I thought the red one was aggravating my psorasis, plus it smelt like ‘burnt trees’ to the BF (tar based).  So both are used interchangabley, though the preferred one is a little too damp atm and therefore more ‘soupy’ than bar.  And I’m using ‘the last little bit’ of the bottle shampoo that the BF  John West rejects (…makes John West the best, and Sarah frustrated!!)

2 face washes – it’s the Mary Poppins of face washes I tell way. The make up remover is circa 2007 or 2008 and a few pumps from retirement.  Given I use it once a fortnight or less, you can see it’s life is long.

Body wash – once it was a gift from a non-bath having friend (alas, I use it as a body wash).  We loved the regifted bottle, I’ve bought it since DESPITE the Rose body wash living strong – it’s on it’s last legs and needs water to dilute the thick sludge due to evaporation.  It is effective for countering water polo smell though!

Two razors – BOTH blunt.  The man handled one has more blades, and I’m opting that way, pink tax and all.  But I don’t want to trash the other handle either, so there it’s stayed.

Well that’s a post in itself.  Now for all the storage!

Most used items
Most used items

Left to right

Hair box containing errant make up, cotton bud box (to refill canister), spray wash off bronzer

Hair dryer, head band, errant pendant and ring, chunky gold necklace, errant blush

Empty ‘extra razor’  tray, open coconut oil (better at eye make up removal), mug with eye liners and mascaras and a whiteboard marker for marking weigh in weights on the mirror

Ice cube tray of earrings (including some without a pair), foot balm at the front, and a ‘keyboard cleaning brush’ stashed in the bathroom for vent cleaning

Seldom used items
Seldom used items

This is the lesser used drawer generally though the bottom right hand side gets worked out as our medicine cupboard.

Across the top (back) of the drawer there is

– zip lock bag with two sunscreens and Moov natural insect repellent for tropical/summery holidays
– strapping tape
– loo roll in ‘easy to reach’ location
– Old El Paso jar with solid deodorant circa… 2009? maybe earlier?
– hand wash refill (inverted)
– band aids
– leave in conditioner
– make up palette circa teenage years from Grandma?

The make up palette hides more! The less often touched items:

the lesser touched
the lesser touched

Inside the travel stuff box we have

Grab and go
Grab and go

Designed to ‘grab and go’
– ballet case: mini shampoo, mini conditioner, mini face wash, mini spray (eww) deo, toothbrush, toothpaste… etc?
– back left: travel slippers (great on planes!)
– back right: travel pillow with ear mask and ear plugs
Also in the box is a Brisbane travel card, a map of Paris metro and a watch I wear on long haul flights only.

And lastly, the two mirrored cabinets:

Bigger shared cupboard
Bigger shared cupboard

Top shelf = boy stuff
Middle shelf:
– 2 perfumes
– 2 foundations
– 1 deodorant
– cotton buds
– face moisturiser
– tooth floss picks (for the BF


Bottom shelf:
– 2 toothpastes (one is sensodyne)
– plate for teeth grinding
– floss
– my vitamins


Skinny seldom used cupboard
Skinny seldom used cupboard

Girls stuff and a yoghurt container of nail polisher remover etc.

Mainly, I’m overwhelmed.  There’s just too much, but I don’t want to throws things out.  Using it up seems to take milleniums!  So many ‘two of’.  I can count on the same fingers I seldom paint, how many times I’ve painted my nails… It’s almost MORE important to have remover to me, than to have the polish!  And the ‘girl products’ – I’ve gone green there, and this is no place for ‘just in case’ (a handbag or work would be!)

Le sigh – suggestions given a shelter or work aren’t viable (I can’t find a shelter and man based workplace)?

Why so quiet?

Well partly cause I can’t recall my password for approving comments.

And work – man, work. We’ve had big storms in Sydney, and big effort for me and my team to get things back to ‘normal’. And then there’s life. Life is full and complicated.

Today was not a normal day in Sydney. I just want to make it known that I don’t harbour any hate. Every human is what they chose to be, or become, and it’s on them, not on their alliances or faith or anything else. And everyone makes wrong decisions, whether they be little slip ups or holding people hostages in a cafe. I refuse to buy into the speculation or hysteria.

So for something more mundane, a to do list
– wrap jars with maps as future votive holders for my birthday!
– put away the washing (at least the lingering socks!)

Inside the invite

– make my 30th birthday invites

Handmade envelopes

Outside invites

– write Christmas cards (that should probably be bumped higher, but it’s a mess factor and maps are everywhere…!)
– rinse out the dirty take away coffee cups the BF used
– buy foam core cardboard for a certain Christmas gift plan
– drop off two pairs of shoes to have their soles restitched on
– coordinate to drop off my hand blender to a friend
– hang up recently bought fairy lights in the hallway

I’m still reading your blogs, but that password issue is even ruining my commenting simplicity :s Sorry! Promise I read it all!

Zero Waste Update

Long time readers know that I was a big advocate of zero waste, with weekly Wednesday posts all being catalogued here.  Most of my posts were when I lived alone, in the loft.  It seems timely to let you know how the zero waste warrior is going after more than a year living with the BF.

Naturally, things have changed.

Firstly, I no longer go to the butcher to buy meat in my own container.  We had such a large bill for groceries in our first month living together, there was no way I could swing the more expensive butcher’s prices.  Plus, I didn’t have the normal local butcher who knew me anymore (unless I wanted to drive or walk further).  So we shop at the big bag duopoly for under cost price meat.  There’s one thing I’m ashamed to admit and that is: the price does matter.

What about coffee? Well I’m recently become more committed to ensuring my daily (sigh) coffee addiction in taking my own cup. Alas, the keep cup I bought for the BF was too big for the machines.  And he’s not a remember-er, and I’m not a nagger.  So today I bought us both coffees and they were both in take away cups.  I diligently recycling the paper cup and the plastic lid after washing them.  It’s a step in the right direction…

The red one smells like cinnamon, the blue like yum, and the brown one like tar :( Haven't tried the other two.
The red one smells like cinnamon, the blue like yum, and the brown one like tar 🙁 Haven’t tried the other two.

I continue to buy solid shampoo bars from Lush, but the BF uses a bottle of shampoo from the duopoly.  The matching conditioner (apple flavour!) is more for my use.  I have had no luck with bulk conditioners for the coop or Lush.  And now my hair is longer I need conditioner 🙁

I continue to visit the food co-op, though much less regularly now that I don’t have one day off a fortnight.  I buy nuts there, as well as vinegar.  What else? Sometimes pasta.  Chia seeds.  I don’t buy their organic fruit and vege.  They are ugly.  And I’m that vain.  And cheap – back to cheap!

Bokashi bin
Bokashi bin

I still have normal people recycling, plastic recycling that go back to the duoploy bins, and compost that goes into my neighbourhood bins.  Gosh I am pleased for those, as my Bokashi composter spilt in my mother’s car and that ended their yard as the destination for organic matter.

I still weigh the bin bag when I take it out.  It’s not always on a Wednesday, but it still happens in the cover of the early morning, so there’s no one to laugh at me 🙂  Actually, the BF thought I’d stopped weighing it – seems I’d just gone stealth.

The reality is – life got in the way.  The fight isn’t worth it.  Compromise is important.  I still move trash from one bin to another under the sink, and I still take out ALL the various waste products.  And I’m ok with that.  I don’t want to let things end up in the wrong bin (by  the way, pleased as punch that my building of 13 apartments, everyone puts in recycling in without plastic bags – a big win in my heart and soul!)

So there’s the update – how are you in your various zero waste efforts?

Zero Waste Wednesday & meat off cuts

Let’s look at the landfill waste our household of two created this week:

Before the frozen meat
Before the frozen meat

The frozen meat scraps - waiting for Wednesday
The frozen meat scraps – waiting for Wednesday

Weightier now, with the meat scraps
Weightier now, with the meat scraps

Usually, I put our meat scraps into the Bokashi bin we have on the balcony. At the moment, it’s full, and my second bin is still at my parents house. My suburb offers community compost bins, so I’ve been taking all the fruit and vegie scraps to it periodically, but it won’t accept meat. I decided to freeze the meat offcuts and remove them on ‘rubbish day’ which is, of course, Wednesday!

When I adjust the weight (as I reused last week’s liner, and added to what was in the bin), we generated 519-82 = 437g. To be honest, last week’s low of 82g was in part because meat from that week wasn’t included.  Since Easter 2013 (almost exactly a year ago) my total landfill waste to just shy of 15kg (33lbs).

And my personal weight? Well sad to tell you I only dropped 200 grams. I had some great weeks to start with, and there’s been a few ‘little indulgences’ rather than healthy food.  So I take it on the chin. (I did cheat a weigh in on Friday, and I was down to 72.9kg, but I didn’t take it as ‘truth’ – so now I’m at 73.3kg).  Persevere, work harder, eat healthier, and it should continue to drop.

Did you know that the bokashi bin system could take meat?  Pretty versatile right?  If only I had a dog though – that’s the ultimate ‘meat’ disposal!