16 sustainability hacks from a zero waste expert

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We recently interviewed long-time zero waste advocate and Women Against Waste ambassador, Jo Woodward.

In the course of the interview, she revealed a number of ways in which she reduces her household’s waste output, all of which highlight her commitment to living sustainably.

We’re always looking for new zero waste hacks from fellow eco warriors, so we thought we’d share 16 of the best zero waste hacks from Jo.

“I try to make any efforts to be sustainable long lasting and ongoing,” says Jo, “so in our home I have opted for simple swaps and easy processes that I know I can continue with long into the future.”

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“Some of these include:

  1. Using plastic wrap alternatives such as beeswax wraps and fabric food/bowl covers;

  2. Taking my reusable coffee cup to get takeaway beverages along with my reusable drink bottle – they pretty much never leave my side!;

  3. Reusable baking mats instead of baking paper;

  4. Cloth nappies before my daughter was toilet trained;

  5. Shampoo and conditioner bars, deodorant bars, body wash bars and bar soap – I love the Ethique Frizz Wrangler shampoo bar;

  6. Using hankies and washcloths instead of tissues and disposable makeup wipes;

  7. Keeping a stash of metal straws and reusable cutlery for use both at home and when out and about;

  8. Reusable grocery and produce bags on every shopping trip – I keep a couple in the car so that I always have them when I need them;

  9. Choosing plastic free produce – buying loose carrots, potatoes, fruit, unwrapped celery, etc. My local farmers’ markets and fruit supply stores are great for this;

  10. Reusing jars and containers to refill at bulk food stores and places which have refill stations. Nicholson River Soaps, which is local to Bairnsdale, have recently opened a brilliant store where you can refill products such as laundry liquid, dishwashing liquid, body wash, and multi-purpose spray;

  11. Composting food scraps. Meal planning and shopping to a list have really helped reduce food waste too;

  12. Recycling glass, aluminum, paper, cardboard and plastics wherever possible;

  13. Responsibly discarding waste items such as batteries and ink cartridges;

  14. I try to bake or make my own items where possible; baking biscuits from scratch, homemade muesli bars and snacks. I’ve also just been generously gifted some sourdough starter so that I can try my hand at making my own bread;

  15. I like to buy second-hand by visiting op shops, second-hand furniture stores, the ‘tip shop’ and buy/swap/sell or freecycle pages on Facebook.

  16. In terms of clothing, my buying habits have done a complete 180. I used to buy loads of clothing, shoes and accessories, and often had a quick turnover of items in my wardrobe. Now I like to buy quality rather than quantity, and try to consider the environmental impact of these items before I buy them. I absolutely adore my Etiko shoes, and find the app Good on You a fantastic resource.

“I think it’s important to point out that I’m certainly not perfect. There are times when I slip up and forget my reusable coffee cup, or can’t source items free from plastic (strawberries are often a big one I have to buy in plastic), but one of the beautiful things about the Women Against Waste movement is that it encourages individuals to remember they’re human, and to be #notperfectjustbetter.”