Frequently Asked Questions
|I love hiking; this is 'Mt Doom' in the background, along the Tongariro Northern Circuit.|
I figured I should finally put all of my FAQ's on one easy to read page. This was a long time coming as I wrote the list over a few months as I was asked questions. If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments below and I will keep updating this page as the questions come in.
When did you have your epiphany moment to quit rubbish?
|Me in high school doing an Enviro Group stunt.|
Do you still shop at the supermarket?
Yes, but it's limited. I buy items that come in glass jars (such as sundried tomatoes) or cardboard or paper packaging. I also use the bulk bins either using cloth bags or reusing plastic zip bags I already had. I purchase bread in my bread bags and onions in a produce bag. I get my produce using Ooooby (blog post here), my own garden, farmers markets or friends/neighbours gardens.
How long have you been vegetarian for and why did you choose to go vegetarian?
I consider myself a "pescitarian" as I occasionally eat fish which is sustainably caught (preferably by someone I know), and occassionally eat (free range) eggs. I have significantly reduced my fish intake however, as I used to buy tinned 'pole and line' tuna, however I no longer buy tin food, or eat tuna for that matter (it's not sustainable). I have been pescitarian for about 8 years now, I wanted to go vegetairan for years beforehand, however as I was young I didn't have much choice in the matter as I didn't cook my own food. I stopped eating meat as I hated the idea of eating animals, as a child I had a lot of pets including (but not limited to) a lamb, a calf and chickens. When I found out how awful the meat industry was, and how bad eating meat is for the environment that was enough for me to go cold tofurkey! If you are interested to learn more I recommend these documentaries:
- Fast Food Nation
- Food Inc
Has your diet changed since going waste free?
Absolutely, I eat less processed food (as it this generally comes in packaging), I eat significantly less dairy and I eat healthier in general as I make most meals from scratch. I also now consume way more fermented food, so I have less belly aches and better digestion.
Would you ever go vegan?
This one may cause a bit of controversy, but this is my own personal journey and opinion. While some people may argue that you can't be an environmentalist/animal lover without being vegan, I personally do not wish to go 100% vegan. It's all about making conscious decisions and choices, and being aware where your purchases come from. I am trying to cut my dairy consumption down and I now eat vegan more than once a week, however I wouldn't go fully vegan. Not because "I like cheese/chocolate/yogurt too much" I enjoy the dairy free versions of these and have them often.
- Honey- I buy local honey to support local bee keepers. Bee populations are declining, so by supporting local beekeepers I am supporting a population of bees. Also honey is healthier and more eco-friendly than white sugar.
- Wool and silk products- I try to buy clothes made from natural fibers. Wool is great for wearing tramping, I can't stand wearing polyester clothes tramping, they always smell plus they release micro-plastics in the wash. I buy my wool and silk clothes secondhand. After all I do live in New Zealand, land of the long white sheep cloud.
I have significantly reduced my dairy intake since my plastic free switch, but I think if I went fulltime vegan then my BF would stop eating vegetarian 80% of the time as he currently does and will start cooking his own meat based meals. So realistically our diet is more sustainable as it is now, eating vegetarian every night and vegan every other night, with the BF occasionally eating meat. Rob Greenfield, the ultimate sustainable, vegan hippy summed the choice to go vegan here, and Lindsay from Treading My Own Path also has a great post on why she chooses to not be vegan.
Do you eat takeaway?
Takeaway is probably one of my cheats where I am not being as environmentally sustainable as possible. My takeaway go-to's are Hell Pizza and Burger Wisconsin, which are both close to my house (I usually walk to BW). The packaging for these is fully recycled paper and cardboard, which we compost or use as a short term weed mat. We sometimes get a plastic dip container when we order chips, unfortunately there is no alternative for this (yet) but I reuse them heaps for freezing small portions (aquafaba), homemade lotions and potions, or taking tramping. I have successfully purchased takeaway from Burger Wisconsin and local fish & chip shops in my own containers.
How do you store leftovers?
I store my food in the fridge in glass jars, glass bowls with lids, or a bowl with a plate on top. I take my leftovers to work using plastic containers I already had, I am wanting to purchase glass containers or stainless steel container instead. If I am taking soup or something a bit "leaky" I use a mason jar, this usually warrants a comment from my co-workers about spending too much time on Pinterest (haha!).
Are you saving money or spending more?
I believe I am saving money, I stopped buying anything new if I can avoid it, actually I try to avoid buying anything as I am trying to downsize my possessions. Generally I take a while to decide if I actually need that item, and will try source it second hand. I was never a big shopper/consumer in the first place, but now I have no reason at all to go to malls or online shopping (except Trade Me). I also buy products that seem more expensive initially but they last longer, so in the long term I am saving money. As for food, buying in bulk is much cheaper however our food bills may have increased as we now buy more organic and 'specialty' type items. I eat a lot healthier now, so I don't mind spending more on food.
What can't you get plastic free and what do you still use?
- Milk- we buy dairy milk only every few months when we want to make cheese or yogurt, however this need has decreased a lot since I've discovered vegan alternatives to cheese. We recycle the plastic milk bottle.I have since found milk can be bought fresh from a farm in Taupaki in your own bottles, I have yet to go as it is a bit of a drive.
- Coconut Oil- as we consume a lot of this it's more cost effective to buy it in large plastic tubs instead of small glass jars. We reuse the plastic buckets around the house.
- Brewing and distilling supplies- this is the BF's hobby, so it would hardly be fair for me to tell him to stop doing what he loves, he supports me heaps with the zero waste lifestyle. Also I enjoy the product of his hobbies, and it saves on glass recycling as he reuses glass alcohol bottles. Most of the plastic gets recycled as it is soft plastic.
- Floss- I mentioned earlier that I am currently working on finding an alternativ.
- Medicine- This one is non-negotiable as it is our health after all.
What item that you cannot live without is the hardest to find waste free?
All the items I thought I couldn't live without I have actually managed to do without, or eventually find an alternative for. For instance, I love nachos but quickly found (hard) cheese was difficult to find plastic free (I wrote a blog post about cheese here) and as were corn chips. I now hardly eat cheese, or buy unpackaged feta from a local store and corn chips I buy unpackaged from Mexican restaurants. I did a blog post about nachos here, alternatively I go out to a Mexican restaurant for my nacho fix. The other item (also food) is chocolate, I buy this in packaging ensuring I buy only paper wrapped or cardboard and foil and I recycle it. Some items I have yet to face, as I am slowly using up stocks of what I have. The items I really can't live without are medical/health items (such as pills).
Is living waste free time consuming?
Yes and no, yes it is if you don't like cooking or prepping for meals, and if you decide to write a blog about it! I have time to do cool hobbies by not wasting my time buying in to consumerism (online shopping) and going to malls. My friends are also really in to what the BF and I do so they often come over to learn or help out with any projects.
Do you still buy toothpaste, deodorant and floss?
Nope, I make my own toothpaste and deodorant which I previously here and here.The deodorant one is still a work in progress however, as I found I was super sensitive to baking soda, however the BF uses it with no issues. Currently I am still using up my container of nylon floss, I have looked at using toothpicks, sewing thread or buying a dentist pick, Air Floss or WaterPik. I am trying to avoid buying anything new, but I will make an exception for my dental hygiene so watch this space!
What about make up?
Another one I am still working on! I am slowly using up what make-up I do have, I only wear make-up for special occasions or when I feel like it. I use coconut oil for a lot of my body products. I no longer own nail polish, I gave all of them away last year after realising I never bothered with it anyway, and wondered what the hell is in nail polish. I want to start making my own make-up once I have used up my store bought items. In the meantime, here are some links to other Zero Waste Bloggers:
There are also a number of face powder 'recipes' out there, I will be experimenting with making my own soon! You can also buy make up that is minimal waste/zero waste; such as Zao Organic Makeup and more locally Stella For Cruelty Free stocks cruelty free, vegan products many of which come in recyclable packing and the postage is also recyclable, they also stock bamboo toothbrushes.
Is it hard to live like this when you know a lot of people are still living unsustainably?
Sometimes I do feel a bit frustrated that here I am doing everything I can and big companies are just trashing the environment. But there are so many people that care for the environment, and small companies who are trying their hardest to be green. I love when a business owner or vendor comments positively on my containers and when someone I haven't spoken to in years reaches out and tells me that my blog has inspired them to think about their environmental footprint. Collectively, all the little things do add up and there is so much growing awareness around the state of the environment. The Zero Waste Bloggers Network has 173 members and growing, and there are many other people out there who are all trying to reduce their waste and live sustainably, see also Zero Waste Heroes and the newly formed Zero Waste in NZ! So there is still hope for us yet!
I want to reduce my waste, where do I start?
Start small by refusing disposable items like plastic water bottles, coffee cups and plastic cutlery by bringing your own reusable alternatives. The internet is a great place and there is a plethora of information out there. Other great blogs and websites to visit are:
- Zero Waste Home (USA, also a book!)
- Zero Waste Chef (USA)
- The Rogue Ginger (Australia)
- Treading My Own Path (Australia)
- Rubbish Free (New Zealand)
- Madeline NZ Eco Chick (New Zealand)
- Waste-Less Living (also in Auckland, NZ)
- Zero Waste Bloggers Network (International)
- 1 Million Women (Australia)
- Unpackit (New Zealand)
A great documentary to watch is The Clean Bin Project, which is about a Canadian couple who try and produce no waste and buy nothing new for a whole year. It's honest and entertaining, and I could definitely relate!