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  • Ruth Stowers

Zero Waste Wannabe for a Week


I’ve been interested in the zero waste movement for a while now and whilst I’ve tried to implement habits to become more mindful of my waste, this theme gave me the perfect push to try it out for a week. Over the week I decided to do a mix of collecting any waste I created as well as making little changes along the way to reduce waste. I learned that it really comes down to preparation and organisation; taking that little bit of extra time to consider an alternative to what would usually produce waste. Having to question our subconscious habits especially when it comes down to such innate human things like eating, drinking and socialising is a challenge, but one I encourage everyone to try.

Monday

Te Aro Ture had a meetup with Krispy Kreme donuts (which I sadly could not eat) but I decided to take some home and use the plastic bag they’d come in. Unfortunately, not one of the ten people (who were a mix of friends and friendly-looking strangers) who I asked wanted a squished donut in a suspiciously large plastic bag. This was the first addition to my waste pile.

I went out to dinner and in order to avoid having drinks that would come with a straw I drank a lot of water which made me wonder about the zero-waste alternatives for toilet paper? Also, the toilets had little towels instead of paper towels. Great for my challenge.

Tuesday

I was a bit sniffly and realised that one of my biggest wastes is tissues. I didn’t have anything handkerchief-like so I started using a towel. I used my hand for sushi too and got my period so it was the perfect time to use a menstrual cup which I got for free! Actually way simpler than pads etc!

Wednesday

Started the day off strong by bringing my fruit around in a sistema container. This turned out to be more trouble than it was worth as it was bulky and I was left with a lot of fruit skins and no lid. Took these home to compost. I had some awesome free bread from the AUTSA lounge and used my hand as a plate. I then ordered pizza which came in cardboard boxes with foil. Do recyclable things count?

Thursday

I had leftovers from Monday which in a way meant I was avoiding extra waste. I also had a few baby packets of chips from work which had been damaged. I justified this as they would have been chucked out anyway (and I was very hungry).

Friday

AUT South Campus does cheap meals so I got kumara, potatoes and peas on the normal ceramic plate which you get when you eat in. It was very delicious, and I swear my meals got tastier the less waste I produced. I had a mentoring event for which the catering we ordered came in big cardboard boxes with cling wrap over the top. This added to my rubbish pile. There was an excess of food so I gave some out to students and my family and friends to avoid wasting it.

Saturday

I made tacos with a friend. The supermarket was probably the hardest situation I had been in zero waste wise as almost everything came in a packet and it was usually plastic. I opted for the veggies sans packaging, a jar, tin and just had a rice packet and plant with plastic. I also said no to the receipt. My friend made super cool tote bags which we used for carrying all the supplies in too! I had a 21st at Bar101 so I bought pres in a reusable drink bottle although not sure this was necessary, plus I lost the drink bottle shortly after arriving.

Sunday

Feeling like a super organised, green, zero waste machine, I took my leftover taco beans in a container with a drink bottle for lunch out with a friend. I tend to have a bad habit of eating random leftovers from other tables at cafes, but thought it was justified due to my zero wasting on this particular day. I had a few chips from the neighbouring table’s leftovers before just bringing the whole plate over. About five minutes later, a man sitting behind me brought over his plate with leftover chips and asked if I wanted it. His wife followed. Slightly embarrassed but very grateful, I accepted and, in true zero waste fashion, took home the food I didn’t finish.


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