Low waste for the busy
Updated: Dec 14, 2018
On Mondays we have an extra child in our house in the morning which makes for 'fun' times leaving the house! As soon as schools over we have to rush to the car to get to back-to-back swimming lessons then home for 6 by which the dinner-bath-homework-bed routine keeps us going until 8pm. That's just Monday.
There's two working people in our house and we manage the after school care pickups, family dinners, after school activities. Saturday's are for Ballet and birthday parties and Sunday we fall in a heap before realising there's housework still to be done. There's cooking: lunches, 'healthy' dinners, snacks to be made. Mount Wash-more teeters in a corner waiting for a brave soul to conquer it.
The zero waste movement has grown enormously in the last 5 years - even the royals are on board! But with growing popularity has come judgement and judgement creates divide. If you cannot make all your food, sew your clothes, live with one lightbulb then are you even #zerowaste? Why would you try if the goal seems unreachable?
We advocate a low waste lifestyle - simply being mindful of what we throw away is a huge start to thinking consciously about our footprint. Yes, it requires planning and a little effort but don't read that as impossible. Convenience goods were made and have been successful for a reason! Not everyone can, or wants, to make their own makeup/yoghurt/bread/potato chips.
There is satisfaction in the little things and everything adds up. Those frozen veggie and bread bags can be REDcycled. Your child's favourite cracker comes on a tray in a plastic bag - the tray can go in your yellow bin and the bag is scrunch-able so pop it in your shopping bags to take to the REDcycle bin. Soup cans can be recycled and most frozen crumbed fish comes just in a waxed cardboard box - winning! Shy away from the pre-packed veg if you can. Give those apples some lovin' and feel em up to get the best ones! Don't have produce bags? Put them loose in your basket or into your shopping bags and give them a rinse when you get home.
Buy your meat in bulk in its simplest cut (ie: rump steak) and use for more than one meal. Slice up one piece, rub a little oil on it and pop it in a container in your freezer for stir fry later in the week. Use the rest as steaks with veg and gravy. Simple is sometimes best! Cook for extra and portion it while you serve. Pasta Bolognaise in our house gets reinvented - we have it the good old fashioned way one night and I freeze the leftover meat sauce, popping the leftover pasta in the fridge with a little oil. Cooked pasta in a good container will last 3 days, perfect with white sauce and a can of Tuna baked with crumbs on top. That Bolognaise sauce will make an appearance but not as you know it - chuck in some beans and smokey paprika and you got yourself some nachos! That's three family meals sorted with not too much effort. The pasta sauce base jar can be used in your pantry or recycle! Meat trays can't be recycled but if your on a budget, buy the biggest size possible and freeze into portions. One tray versus three is always better.
Grab a cake or loaf from the bakery, slice and freeze for lunchboxes. Get the kids to bring home those muesli bar wrappers for REDcycle. Buy a big bag of potato chips and dispense each day. One big bag recycled correctly versus 5 to 10 little bags that might not make it to the right bin. Put the kids in charge of your REDcycle. My 5 year old is the queen of scrunch-able, she will tell you if you've put it in the wrong bin and knows where it goes on shopping day. All Coles outlets and most Woolworths have a soft plastics bin out the front.
If you buy your lunch 3 times per week and have a take away coffee each day you could save 300 cups and lids and up to 400 pieces of plastic cutlery/wrap by bringing your own. Grab a Sandwich baggie (yep, you read that correctly!) and pop a fork & teaspoon inside. Throw it in your bag or car - ta da, you've got yourself a zero waste travel kit! Now grab a water bottle and a coffee cup - your on a roll! So when you find yourself at lunch you don't need the plastic cutlery. Your afternoon coffee to go is sorted and you have a teaspoon if sugar is your thing. When you're happy with your byo system, be rebellious and add a cloth napkin and replace that baggie with something else.
Take away can be tricky. Refuse as much packaging as you can and get the most use of what's left. Washed plastic containers can mostly be recycled and reused. Burger boxes and wrappers can also be recycled in they're not too dirty. Refuse the straw. Why not eat in the restaurant - certainly no clean up then!
We want you to try, and succeed. Together we can reduce our waste footprint and that would mean the world - literally.
Lauren & Team Saltbush