Zero Waste Living - what can you do at your house

October 3, 2018

Here at the Living House we have been trying (very hard) to implement zero waste living in our current home (The House of Payne) so when we move into the Living House we are zero waste. 


We've made a lot of awesome changes, with the help of some great products from some inspirational companies, so we thought that we would share some of these with you.

The most important thing we have learnt is "You don’t need to buy a brand new toolkit on the first day".  Apparently the most common mistake that people make when embarking on the zero waste lifestyle is buying all of this stuff brand new on the first day, without thinking first whether they already own something appropriate, whether they really need it at all, and whether these products are built to last – and if they’re not, how they will be disposed of.


If you can, hold back from buying anything new. Get a feel for what you might need, and make do with what you have. Give it time. That way, when you come to buy the things you do need, you will make better choices.


The next is "Do not get rid of perfectly good things for “better” things". Zero waste is all about not wasting stuff, right? So replacing stuff that you already have with stuff that’s a little bit “more” zero waste really doesn’t make any sense. Here is some of the journey that we have undertaken in a couple of rooms in the house..........



The kitchen is the place that we started trying to go zero waste as we found during our baseline exercise that this was the place that we created the most waste. Here is what we have done:


Reusable containers and glass jars

We sorted out our kitchen and started saving glass jars as we learnt that zero waste shopping is about shopping “from bulk” rather than “in bulk”!


Then we stopped buying most of our food at the supermarket and instead started buying at a bulk food store (BIN INN in Howick) as well as buying our meat direct from the local butcher (Wholesale Meat Direct Beachlands) and our fresh veges from a local farm (Clevedon Herbs and Produce). We found that doing all of these things was EASY and didn't really require that much extra effort from us. 


The butcher is just done the road and all that is required is for us to drop labelled containers down at the start of the week (with what meat we want in each one) and they will fill them up and then call us when they are ready. We order from Clevedon herbs and produce online and they deliver to us. For Bin Inn we plan our visit and go once a month when we need to go into Howick anyway. 


Beeswax Wraps

We ditched the cling film (Glad Wrap) and bought ourselves some beeswax wraps to use for the school lunches as well as to cover food in the fridge. 


Compost / Bokashi / Worm Farm

We already had a compost bin that we put our food scraps in (did you realise that around 40% of residential waste in NZ is compostable) so that isn't a change for us. What has been a change however is the addition of a bokashi bin and worm farm to our food scrap process. Now we give most of our green waste to our worms. We then bokashi (or ferment) the rest of the scraps and then add the fermented product to the compost when it is ready. This helps stop our dog digging up the compost (she seems to love bananas!) 





We replaced our old plastic toothbrushes with bamboo brushes when they wore out. There are loads of great bamboo toothbrush options out there and they can all be composted! 

Shampoo and conditioner

We ditched the plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner and have instead swapped to bars.  These last forever and can save up to 8 plastic bottles per bar!


Body Products

As per the above we now only purchase bar soaps and moisturisers that are wrapped in plastic or cardboard.



We said goodbye to the plastic disposable razor and bought ourselves each a safety razor and have never looked back. The best shaves we have ever had!

Toilet Brushes 

We haven't gotten around to this yet, but as soon as our plastic toilet brushes break, we will replace them with wood toilet brushes. These are compostable at the end of life, unlike plastic!





Doing this has cut out around 75% of our waste in total. Most of what heads out of the door now is soft plastics that we can't yet avoid (like cheese packaging and Chelle's hot chocolate sachets) as well as glass from wine and beer bottles which all heads off the recycling. The actual waste that heads to landfill is very small. So small in fact that we don't put out a bin every week now. It probably goes out once a month at the moment. 


So good progress has been made on our zero waste (living) front. 

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