You aren’t lazy. You’ve just got a sh*tload of things to do. You want to fight waste, but you just keep forgetting those bloody bags and keep-cups. Instead of heading out every day, they have a quiet life... rolling around in the bottom of the cupboard or the car.
We know what happens when you see those zero-waste gurus: their insta-perfect, immaculately labelled glass-only pantries and their entirely obsolete bins. It's enough to make you admit immediate defeat.
So what can you do?
Well, we’ve pulled together the perfect lazy person’s guide to reducing waste.
Because we've been working at this a while and sometimes we aren't even that good at it. Sometimes we all out suck. But, we have a few tricks that we promise can make it easier, not harder, and have been helping us get better, every day. We swear.
And - as our boyfriend-cut-off denim shorts, (kid's) reusable nappies and backyard city-hens are testament - we are serious about cutting down on waste. We just don’t have all day to do it.
So, let’s get started on the Super-Lazy Guide to the war on waste!
1. HOW TO STOP FORGETTING THOSE BLOODY REUSABLE BAGS
I struggled for aaaaages with this one. How hard can it be to remember some bags!?
The simple answer is a good overarm throw and a teeny new habit. You'll get into the swing in no time:
Step 1: unpack
Step 2: HURL all your bags as hard as you can toward the front door (it is easier when they are all stuffed together).
Step 3: HURL again (if you have a really big house and it didn't reach the first time) OR trip over them, and just kick them toward the door.
Step 4: Hang them off the door handle or stick them behind the front door.
Voila! You physically cannot leave the house without them. Trust me, this one works.
And what if you leave them in the car if you drive to the shops? Seriously? Erm... Just leave your trolley and walk back to the bloody car.
Or, do what our friend did, and just throw all your shopping out of the trolley and into your boot to roll around. She has never forgotten her bags since. That’s commitment to change your habits.
2. ALTERNATIVELY, DON’T GO OUT SHOPPING AT ALL: MAKE THE FRUIT & VEGGIES COME TO YOUR DOOR
Somehow even when I remember my reusable big bags, I forget the teeny ones for the fruit and veg. And no carrot belongs in a plastic bag. Or sweet potato (remember THAT debacle Woolworths?! Let's not go there again).
So when I found a local, farm-to-door co-operative organic grocer who delivered to me with dirt still gracing my carrots and little paper bags to hold my spinach, I knew I had struck gold.
Why don't more people do this? The vegetables come to your door! And when they ask when you want delivery each week, reply, "the same day someone else in my street gets them delivered" and bingo: no more road miles.
When you place your order, specify that they don’t deliver with plastic, and make sure that they are happy to take back your ice-packs and esky bags! (We're big fans of One Table and the local farmers' markets scattered around town. Like the amazing Sydney Beaches Markets! Who strictly speaking, don't come to your door, but are a whole lot more fun to visit than a grocery store!)
3. CAN KEEP A KEEP CUP DOWN
I get it. I am terrible at remembering my reusable coffee cup. Worse when it comes to the kid's ones (did you know keep-up now do babycino... I mean espresso... sized cups too??!)
And if someone offers me one of those capsule coffees in the office? No. Stop it. I don’t care if those teeny little capsules claim to be recycled or are ‘green’ – they aren't. The coffee is weak, and watery and crap, and the big-coffee company know I need to drink 10 of them to get even the slightest caffeine hit. And no-one – but no-one – serves bad coffee to good friends.
Instead we have three solutions:
a) get into the habit of using your keep cup as your water bottle in the morning. It has the added benefit of caffeine infused water which makes any morning better, AND it means that you are holding it as you walk right out the door.
b) buy 2 of them (one for home, one for the office)
IF THAT FAILS... WHAT DOES A LAZY PERSON DO:
b) we say, "I'll have it here please Barista! And we sit down for a coffee. We're not lazy, just contemplating. Meditating. Taking a moment for the creative juices to flow.
If you can’t do that, find one of those awesome cafes that have ‘hanging cups’ of a whole new kind on the wall, to take away and bring on back. We love you hanging cups!!
4. UNLOAD YOUR CRAP FOR FREE! RIGHT FROM YOUR DOORSTEP.
Imagine if you could leave the stuff you don’t want on your doorstep and someone would magically turns up to take it away.
Maybe, even, instead of having to brave the shops to buy your next piece of clothing / kids toys / weekend ski trip gear, you can pop around the corner to a neighbour’s home.
Yep, that too.
It’s called Freecycling and it is a whole new world of everything wonderful and oh so different to what you think.
Half the stuff people are willing to give away is barely, if ever used. It's like the lottery, only you don't even need to part with two bucks. You can find incredible toys or shoes for your kids or that power cord, or that thing that fits your broken blender to make it work again.
What we didn’t find at auction houses we sourced from freecycling to furnish almost all of our new home. And I’ll be blunt… we are not into the rustic look!
You just take a photo, pop it onto Facebook and you can get rid of things you never knew anyone would want. And you can pick up the most incredible things!
I want to give a big shout-out to Brenda who started the amazing Lower North Shore Freecycling Group and got me involved, but you can find many groups.
Even better, once you are in the community, you will realise that you can source almost anything. Your kid wants a toy that went out of stock 2 years ago? I kid you not, within 2 hours on freecycle, we had someone willing to pass one on.
5. POLITELY ASK THEY TAKE YOUR BLOODY STRAW BACK.
I have three pet hates:
1) Stores that give me ‘bioplastic’. It rarely is. It isn’t ‘eco-plastic’ either. I’ve done an awful lot of research on this one, and trust me, it isn’t the step forward you think it is.
2) Coffee shops that automatically give people lids. Hey, a few scalds might remind us to bring our keepcups! And,
3) Shops that give me straws. I’m an adult. I can drink out of a cup. Worse, shops that give my kids straws in their babycinos (that one really grinds our gears). They too know how to drink out of a cup.
I don’t know how as lazy people we can fight this, but to handle it like the good folk we are, I think we just need to politely pass them back and say,
‘Please, you can keep the straw'. They'll soon learn.
We could also say something super witty, like "stop sucking and keep your straws" but that could be taken offensively and they might throw us out before they change their ways. So be nice. And just politely hand back the straws. Maybe with a bit of milkshake dribbling out along the way... to cause, you know, a mini-scene.
6. NEVER BUY CLEANING PRODUCTS AGAIN (WELL, ALMOST NEVER)
Clearly the ultimate lazy approach here is to stop cleaning altogether. If you have gone all out in your commitment to both laziness and ending cleaning-product waste, then we solute you!!
If you aren't quite at this extreme level... then just grab a lemon, some bicarb and vinegar. Quit buying all the myriad of different cleaning products. And just stick to these.
The secret is: YOU DON'T NEED ANY FANCY RECIPE.
Just pour it on. Watch it bubble. Wipe it off and you’re done. Probably don't use it on wood or marble or slate. But other than that, just splash it around. Stick half a lemon in your dishwasher too. It makes everything cleaner (or it makes me think it makes everything cleaner). Either one is fine by me!
If you still want to buy some stuff, head to your favourite eco-store and buy up bulk. Super bulk and super concentrated. Save on air miles and plastic containers.
Then get some very New York apothecary looking glass bottles to store them in, and just top it up every so often.
Bingo. So now instead of racing up to the store yet again to buy 300 different cleaning products, you can relax on the balcony with a drink in hand instead.
Trust me. The feeling of smugness when you walk past the cleaning products knowing you only buy them once a year? Irreplaceable.
7. MINDING YOUR BEESWAX
So these are little pieces of fabric heaven covered in beeswax. They smell nice. And they cover everything and remove any need for plastic (glad) wrap ever again!!!
Hooray! We've been gladwrap free for almost two years! (To be fair, we also just went and bought reusable glass containers with lids).
8. THE FINAL FRONTIER: LOO PAPER WITHOUT THE PLASTIC WRAP
Hooray! Another one that come straight to my door so I don’t need to cart it around the supermarket!!
Thank you, Who Gives a Crap. It’s loo paper. Without the plastic crap... (plus they do loads of other great stuff too).
9. A LAZY LIE-IN WITHOUT THE WASTE?
We were never really going to forget this one... so if you want to know your bedding and blankets are being made from the magical energy of waste rice husks, and using 90% water than they otherwise could... and are being shipped carbon neutrally or barely shipped at all?! And come to you without the plastic wrap (even though they said we never could), and instead are wrapped in bags made from off-cuts that you can re-use and re-use yourself to put, like, secret chocolate stashes in and things. And a business where the waste off the factory floor is given to people who need it to stuff quilts and pillows and things?
Well... that's where we come in. We're just here for you to indulge. And sleep more. Give it a go!
10. A GREAT BIG STOCK POT AND FURRY FRIENDS
So, Nads here wanted to say that you can be lazy and have a worm farm. I've had a worm farm and bokashi and I don't agree it is the best lazy-fit. It's easier than a compost, but I think you are a big step above lazy to fit that bill.
I even had someone tell me keeping chickens was easy (at least, before the neighbours complain about you having a farm in the apartment block).
But what I do know... is that the two best ways to get rid of food waste, are to throw it all in a great big stock pot as soon as you get it delivered, or cook up your dish. Throw in any leftover dinner scraps and bones, including the garlic and onion skin. Add a bit of vinegar and salt. Then bubble away!
If it doesn't go in the stock pot (I'll admit, porridge and beetroot aren't always the best addition) then get a furry friend who loves to eat it (and yes yes... do consult the vet first!)
So there you go. That's it! Your first 10 steps to the lazy way to cut down on waste. I'm pretty certain it can't get easier than that...