It’s April, the first quarter of the year is done and dusted and your new year’s resolutions feel like a distant memory. Many of us start the year with the intention to become a more balanced, well-rounded citizen and find with the pressures of everyday life that it is hard to maintain this magic list. But when we look back at these failed aspirations, it can usually be identified that perhaps our expectations were not sustainable with our current budget of time, finances or lifestyle.

Our first post in this new series provides a reflective exercise, that can help you take a closer look into regular purchasing habits and the waste streams that currently exist in your lifestyle. Grab a cuppa, a notebook or a laptop to record your thoughts in a diary and be prepared to take a deep dive into your rubbish!

Deep Dive Exercise

Step One: K.I.S.

Keep It Simple! This step is one that will need to be kept in your back pocket – there is a temptation to start modifying and tackling too much, too quickly. There are a lot of great resources available around the Zero Waste concept including networks and books that are applicable to the Australian context (see Day 17 for my two favourites). Yet, it can be easy to fall into the trap of your own eco-guilt by comparing yourself with others.

As Anne Marie Bonneau aka The Zero Waste Chef has elegantly put it:

See more beautiful quotes collated by Eco Warrior Princess

As we progress on this series, keep in mind to:

  • Come in with zero expectations and attachments – the way that things currently are may surprise you and be a little confronting, but they’re possible to change.
  • Be kind and honest with yourself – remember you don’t need to be a zero waste aficionado on your first pass!
  • Set realistics goals – do what you can, where you can, within your constraints.
  • Be motivated and supported – if you have a friend that’s also wanting to be more environmentally conscious they can be a source of inspiration and way to combine forces by pooling common resources.

Step Two: Pick one domain

To enact any change is difficult to undertake, one of the more effective strategies for trying out something new is to set yourself up for success – if it’s an aspect of life that is fundamentally important to you and it is encountered regularly, any modifications are more likely to stick!

You could choose to focus on:

  • An area in your household
  • A recreational activity/hobby
  • Or even a regular aspect of your routine!

Grabbing your diary of choice for this reflection, write your domain of choice in a big box at the top of the page. Directly underneath this, record why this is important to you – this is going to serve as a powerful reminder.

For me, this was having a look at my kitchen – I love food, I really live to eat! I regularly cook for large gatherings of friends and groups in the community. In my downtime, you can find me reading a cookbook, watching a culinary video on YouTube or Netflix or even just idly browsing food blogs for a new recipe to test.

Food is life!

Liz, 2020 🙂

Step Three: What comes in…

As a start, we’re going to have a brainstorm about what regular products and items that we purchase or source to undertake the function of your domain. If your area is something that is tangible and you can go have a peek at your cupboard it can help jog your memory about the usual suspects that are there!

  • What do you have to do to get ready to engage in an activity/space?
  • Are there resources you need to purchase?
  • How frequently do they need to be replaced?

Jot down each element and put a circle around it, jot some notes down about these questions as this is something we’ll revisit later. I had just done some shopping so it was easy for me to see:

Step Four: What comes out…

Similarly, we can take a close look at what happens after products and items are used in the space.

  • What happens when you finish an activity/space?
  • Are there things that need to be completely/partially disposed?
  • Does this happen frequently?

An interesting thought is to see if there’s any overlap between products that have components that are immediately disposed off without being used for any function other than packaging or storage. What are the common culprits that you can see?

For me my biggest take-away was the amount of plastic packaging!

Step Five: Log it

How does your map come out? Mine looks a little something like this:

However, to really understand the nature of our footprint, it’s effective to also do this exercise over an extended period like a week. Sometimes we can forget aspects that occur and it’s only when we stop to take a closer glance that we can identify the more pesky and persistent elements!

  1. Record anything you purchase or ‘waste’ each day this coming week for your target area.
  2. Remember to keep adding to the footprint map as things come up during your week whether they fall as an input or an output of your area of interest.

Well, what comes next?

To enhance our understanding of our footprint, if you can time this logging exercise with your weekly bin routine we can start to get a little bit more messy! In the next post of this series, we will discuss how to quantify the impacts and the final destination of the current products and waste streams that are produced in your lifestyle through a waste audit.

Share with us!

Today’s feature image is from a seasonal canning day that we held in March this year, where we turned plums and berries into jam and tomatoes into passata for the winter months.

We hope you enjoy incorporating a part of eco-mindfulness into your upcoming week. Let us know something that you identified that surprised you!

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