Reading up about zero waste living, I swiftly came to the conclusion that it involves a lot of effort but advocate for the waste-less lifestyle, Maddy Garnham, has convinced me that it's easier than it looks.
Not being a very Earth-conscious kind of person, I asked Maddy to give me a simple explanation of how I can live a zero waste lifestyle and in return she equipped me with six tips to help move towards a zero waste lifestyle.
Pictured: Maddy Garnham
Buy local produce
“The easiest thing to do is to shop at local produce stores, farmers markets or places that offer package free food,” Maddy said.
According to Maddy, anything fresh will probably come in unpackaged form.
"Check out your local grocery store for things in the veggie and fruit section. Things like loose leaf salads, fruit, veggies and even breads can come out of the packing.
“I’ll take my bags and containers along with me to save on all the packaging and plastics,” she said.
Shopping at local farmers markets is another great way to connect with the producers of the foods.
“There are quite a good variety of farmer’s markets that happen on the weekend all around Sydney. It is cheap and you can talk to the people who grow the produce,” Maddy explained.
Zero waste kit
Another ace suggestion Maddy gave was a zero waste kit.
“In my kit I’ve got a reusable coffee cup, a metal water bottle, some fold up grocery bags and a few spare containers.
“Another thing is I always have some small canvas draw string bags for nuts or salad mix when I’m on the go,” she said.
Some other suggestions for a zero waste kit could include a set of cutlery, some small containers and a cloth napkin.
Cut down where it counts
One of the hardest places to cut down on waste is in the kitchen and the bathroom.
“There’s a lot of packaged stuff that comes form the kitchen so it can be hard to eliminate everything,” she said.
“Make lots of things yourself, the more you make from scratch the better off you’ll be.
“You can make your own pasta, breads, sauces and other things, and they’ll be healthier and you’ll feel more rewarded,” she said.
Another hard place to crack down on the waste is in the bathroom.
“It is a little more difficult but try a bamboo toothbrush and check out the alternatives to mainstream toothpaste,” she suggested.
“In terms of cleaning stuff, add bicarb soda to some home remedies and it will make everything cleaner,” she said.
Like a lot of things in life, preparation is key.
“Work out what you’ll be needing across a week and pack for it,” she said. “Do one big shop with your reusable bags and containers and you’ll sorted for a week or two.”
Maddy explained that at the beginning of her zero waste conquest, she found things a little hard. Every time she went to the shops she’d leave her bags in the car, but after a little prep work she’s now got it down pat.
“It didn’t come naturally to me but preparation and routine is key to zero waste. You won't forget anything if you’re prepared,” she said.
Do your research
Getting into the zero waste lifestyle seems like a hard thing to do but Maddy assured me that with a little bit of research it is really quite easy.
“As soon as you’re more informed you can make better decisions for yourself,” she said.
“Look first and foremost about how your local council manages their waste because you’ll get a better idea about how you should be properly recycling.
“Some councils are different so don’t assume everything can be recycled. Jump online and find out what is appropriate for your council.
“Knowing those things is a good starting point,” she said.
Maddy’s Instagram is chock full of ideas and inspirations so that could also be another point of reference for some research.
Compost is your friend
Aiming to dispel any ill-feeling towards rotting scraps in your backyard, Maddy thinks compost should be a key part of your zero waste lifestyle.
“Food scraps, meat scraps and anything organic,” she says. “It is all one less thing for waste.”
“We put our food scraps in there and then we burry them into the garden so it turns into really nice soil.
“At the moment we’ve got chilli and carrots growing in our compost soil, as well as a random pumpkin vine that sprung up out of the compost,” she said.
For people living in apartment buildings, Maddy had some further tips.
“Look into what kind of system you’ll need, do some research, because there are great compost systems for people who live in apartments or who don’t have big backyards,” she said.
All in all it isn’t a hard thing to do. You don’t have to give up everything at once because even something as little as recycling appropriately can make a huge impact on our environment.