knit your own

In a cold state like Tasmania, knitwear is an essential in the closet – but the shops are generally filled with such poor quality knitwear. Avoid fast fashion and slow things down. Learn to knit your own!

The beginnings of a winter sweater

Knitting is not just for nanna’s

Despite stereotypes, knitting is an ancient art that has sprung into modernity. Knitting is therapy, a time-passer and meditative in it’s repetitiveness. It’s deeply rewarding to create something with your hands, that is magically transformed into something totally unique and wearable for a lifetime. I have always felt slightly embarrassed to share my love of the knitted craft with the world, but I can no longer deny my feelings.

A favourite beanie of mine that I knit 2 years ago

Making your own knitted stuff means you can have exactly what you want. You can knit something to fit you perfectly and in the perfect colour of your choosing. Knitwear is generally long lasting, and doesn’t require being washed every-time you wear it. Handmade knitwear also makes the perfect present, something so personal and time consuming is always appreciated by the recipient.

Where to get decent wool

Although it would be easy to run into Spotlight for a ball or two, there are options out there for those wishing to be more environmentally thoughtful. My favourite online wool retailers, Wool & the Gang, sell a range of beautifully coloured wool that has a focus on sustainability. 63% of their yarns are bio-degradable, 47% are vegan, and 32% are recycled or up-cycled. The numbers aren’t perfect -but they are working on it! Their ‘Heal The Wool‘ yarn is made from excess fibres that would otherwise be sent to landfill. They also have the ‘New Wave Yarn‘ that is made from discarded plastic bottles, up to three bottles per ball of wool! Wool and The Gang also want to be kind to their sheep, and are 100% mulesing free.

A small part of my collection of synthetic wool

Sourcing wool even slower

Some pure mohair sheep fleece

If you want to take wool sourcing really seriously, you can do what I did and learn to spin wool. Taken straight from the sheep, spinning involves using a wheel to combine the raw fibres and create yarn. After making friends with fellow spinners, I was gifted three beautiful bags of fresh wool shorn straight from the sheep. These sheep are grazing sheep, and were due for a trim anyway, so why let those precious fibres go to waste! I’ve created many balls of wool from these fleeces, using organic dyes to make purples, whites and reds.

Balls of wool that I dyed & spun!

Where to learn how to spin

Spinning wool is not for the faint hearted, it is however a fantastic skill to learn. Firstly you’ll need a wheel to spin with, which unfortunately are not just sold on shelves. I picked up a handmade one from a Huon Valley local, made from pure Huon Pine. If you can’t find a wheel locally, Ashford are the brand I’m most familiar with, and make very high quality spinning wheels. Head to their website to see their range!

My beautiful spinning wheel

Spinning takes serious patience and determination, in fact it took me two weeks to even get something representative of wool. Learning to spin is best done with someone next to you to teach the technique. In that case, join your local spinners group (generally a bunch of older ladies at the local community hall). I joined the Huon Valley spinners group and met the nicest group of very eager grandmas willing to pass on their talents. However, if finding someone to teach you is not possible, then head to the internet. I recommend looking up Ashford Wheels & Looms on youtube, who have step by step tutorials on how to prepare the wheel, and the technique involved.

Where to learn how to knit

I learnt to knit from a couple of old books, youtube videos and the faintest memories of my grandmothers teachings. If you don’t have someone who can teach you, turn to the internet. Simply learn how to cast on & off, do a basic knit stitch and go from there. Practice making a garter stitch scarf and get your technique up to scratch. It’s super simple to pick up, and you’ll likely never forget how to do it.

A simple garter stitch scarf I made for Jake

Patterns

The internet is abundant with knitting patterns. My favourite website is Ravelry! Create an account and get access to a mountain of knitting patterns for practically anything you can think of. Places like Spotlight have hard copies of patterns for sale as well.

A small collection of my pattern books

Learning to knit is the perfect way to slow things down and keep your closet thoughtful. As my poor quality clothes wear out, my knitted items stand strong and beautiful. Take the time to learn a new skill like knitting, and you’ll never be bored again!


For Wool & The Gang website, head to https://www.woolandthegang.com/

For Wool & The Gang Heal The Wool Yarn, head to https://www.woolandthegang.com/en/products/heal-the-wool?taxon_id=49

For Wool & The Gang New Wave Yarn, head to https://www.woolandthegang.com/en/products/new-wave-yarn

For Ashford Spinning wheels, head to https://www.ashford.co.nz/spinning-wheels

For Ashford youtube tutorials, head to https://www.youtube.com/user/AshfordHandicrafts

For the Ravelry pattern website, head to https://www.ravelry.com/


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avoiding fast fashion

In this zero waste journey, I have grown a greater appreciation for where things come from. This mostly related to food, and buying from local growers. But I’ve started to investigate more into the origin of my clothes, and shopping sustainably. Over the next few weeks I’m going to share what I’ve found!

What is fast fashion

The term ‘fast fashion’ is one I’ve only come to hear in recent years. It basically means cheap clothes that are produced quickly in response to fashion trends. So when you walk into stores like Zara or Cotton On, you’ll find cheaper versions of fashionable clothes. The benefit of fast fashion is that it makes trendy clothes more accessible for people who can’t afford the big ticket items. But the catch is, you’ll likely burn through these clothes quickly due to the poor quality, and end up going back for more.

A poor clothing decision from years ago

Evironmental impacts

‘Clothing is now considered the second biggest polluter on earth’

According to Friends of the Earth, many of our clothes contain plastics like polyester, nylon, acrylic and polyamide (the most common fabrics used). In fact up to 64% of new fabrics are made up of plastic. So when we wash our clothes made from these materials, they shed tiny little microfibres. Microfibres might not sound dangerous, but they are actually a plastic-based thread that is thinner than human hair. Our water treatment systems are not fine enough to catch these tiny plastic threads, therefore they end up in the ocean.

On their journey to the ocean however, these tiny plastic threads are soaking up harmful chemicals. These toxins pose a threat to aquatic life. The most worrying fact, is that sea life have started ingesting these plastic parts, and they are making their way up the food chain, to the point where they are showing up in the seafood that people eat!

Even further, according to the University of Queensland, we send around 85% of textiles we buy straight to landfill every year. Because most clothing is made from plastic, it takes upwards of 1000 years to break down.

Get out of the habit

After habitually shopping with fast fashion chains since being a wee teenager, I had to make an active decision in my brain to stop buying from them. To my suprise, I’ve found this transition very simple and am less attached to the concept of buying new clothes. So here are my top tips for avoiding fast fashion.

1. Buy investment pieces

An investment piece is a clothing item that serves a hefty purpose, and it’s purchase can be justified. An investment piece should be made from good quality material, that prevents the clothing breakdown that comes with cheap clothes. An investment piece should also be flexible, so that it can be worn with multiple ‘outfits’ perhaps across all the seasons, but most importantly it should serve a purpose. For example, a good quality winter coat to last through many winters.

A ski coat I bought second hand for $20, around 4 years ago in perfect condition

The only downside? An investment piece will straight up cost more than it’s fast-fashion alternative, primarily due to the quality. Thinking forward, it will perhaps spare you a penny as it should last for quite some time, instead of a yearly replacement from fast-fashion that quickly shows it wear and tear. My most recent investment piece was a really nice pair of jeans. They have lived on my legs for around 2 years, show no signs of wear and tear, and are an all year round pair of pants.

My blue jeans in perfect knick

2. Be an outfit repeater

The phrase that circulated my high school was ‘no one wants to be an outfit repeater’, and this is fast-fashions best friend. Pop culture has instilled into us that for every event we go too, it is integral we wear something new. This notion of newness is frankly stupid, because no one on earth could give a shit if you wear something twice (at least I don’t). Jane Fonda recycled a red dress for the Oscars this year, that she had once worn a few years ago, and it made the news?! Fonda actively went against this non-recycle culture, and I think she looked fabulous both times she wore it.

My favourite party piece

Tying into ‘investment pieces’, consider having a couple of good quality, nice dresses/skirts/pants (whatever) that you can rotate between events. My party piece? This fabulous Gorman (great quality) linen dress. She was bought for my university graduation a few years ago, but has re-appeared for my brothers school graduation, birthday dinners, and anything else that requires a bit of frill.

3. Buy second hand

Op-shopping is straight up the most obvious way to avoid stimulating the fast-fashion market. Although it would be nice to never buy any new clothes ever again, sometimes our garments do come to their end. Sometimes we grow out of things, sometimes you might need an extra tank top for your holiday, or perhaps you have a baby growing in you that requires your pants to have extra room. Buying clothes is not a sin, but buying second-hand is such a fantastic way to do it.

A cute rainbow top I purchased second hand

Every town has it’s op-shops, some good & some bad, but thats not the only place to find second-hand clothes. The internet is an amazing way to buy, swap & sell practically anything. There are ‘clothing exchange groups’ on facebook for different popular brands like Gorman, Lorna Jane & Lululemon. I’ve both bought, and sold plenty of clothes over these facebook groups, and have never had any problems!

4. Learn to sew

Although a more difficult option than just heading to the local op-shop, learning to sew doesn’t just mean starting from scratch. Sure, if you’re a talented sewer (or keen to learn), there are plenty of resources on the internet to teach you how to sew your own clothes. But simply learning to sew can save you from throwing out beloved clothes when the natural wear and tear seeps in.

Horribly simple, hand-made patch

From a humble button, to patching pants, learning to sew has spared many of my loved clothes. My favourite (and most dodgy) repair job I’ve attempted has been my be-loved spotted pants. One night I burnt a hole in the leg (drunkenly leaning against a fire pit) and was determined not to say goodbye. So, I found some similar (not identical) fabric and attempted to cover it up. It’s certainly not perfectly blended, but I’ve always loved them since.

5. Commit to a goal

I’ve made a commitment to buying no new clothes this year, unless they’re second-hand or made with sustainable/compostable fabrics. There are a couple of things I can’t ignore, like needing a new work shirt, but overall I’m planning to save a bucket load of cash by avoiding the stores. Having a year long goal makes it easier to keep my commitment, and already going beautifully! Consider doing the same, even if it’s on a slightly smaller scale just try and eliminate something from your shopping urges.

Choosing to make slowly, than buy quickly

Clothing is essential, but as I’ve grown and learnt, I’ve slowly detached myself from the idea of buying new clothes. This involved a serious amount of self-reflection about my own personal vanity, and what I thought I needed to be considered fashionable, now I couldn’t give two shits about fashion! Even if I’m an outfit repeater, or looking like a total dag, at least I have something to wear.

For Friends of the Earth article on plastic in our clothes, head to https://friendsoftheearth.uk/plastics/microfibres-plastic-in-our-clothes

For University of Queensland article on environmental impacts of fast fashion, head to https://sustainability.uq.edu.au/projects/recycling-and-waste-minimisation/fast-fashion-quick-cause-environmental-havoc

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Furoshiki gift wrapping

Ever look around on Christmas morning, surrounded by that enormous sea of gift wrap? It is utterly disappointing how dependent we are on the wasteful-ness that is gift wrap, treasured for only a brief moment, then straight into the bin. This year I’ve attempted to combat the all important gift wrap, with a Japanese inspired, re-usable alternative.

Mum’s present wrapped and ready

Furoshiki

A Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth, commonly used for transporting goods. Mistakenly, I often see people referring to the wrapping method as being Furoshiki, however it is actually referring to the cloth itself. There is no set size or design, but most are made from cotton and silks. Modern, westernised practices see Furoshiki being used as a wrapping alternative for gifts, produce and essentially anything that needs to be wrapped!

Even a tiny circle can be wrapped

Getting some cloth

Instead of rushing to a craft store to pick up some fabric to replicate the Furoshiki cloths, I searched around my local op-shop for some scarfs, head wraps & bandanas. I picked up a small stash for around $10, with the option to always go and find some more. I chose different colours, sizes and designs, just like traditional Furoshiki. These treasures I found can be used for years and years to come, just politely ask the un-wrapper to hand back the wrap for next year’s gift wrapping.

Collection of scarfs from my local op-shop

How to wrap

There are a hundred ways to utilise the Furoshiki wrap for items of different shapes and sizes. There are youtube tutorials and instructional on the web, but I found this simple table somewhere that perfectly summarises some of the main wrapping techniques.

Some simple wrapping ideas

Not only is this idea cleverly optimising re-use culture, but the end product is beautiful, unique and frankly much easier than working with paper gift wrap. By using this simple wrapping technique with a few $1 scarfs from an op-shop, I’ll never use money on gift wrap for the foreseeable future!

Even the smallest present

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DIY christmas wreath

Next up on my zero waste christmas list, is to make my own Christmas wreath! Upon arrival of the silly season, I hesitated rushing out and buying a fake wreath from the craft store. Instead, I’ve opted to flex my crafting muscles and create my own wreath, without creating any waste!

Ground shrub I took snips from

What you need

2m of garden wire (preferably green to blend in)
Garden cable ties
Pruning scissors
A garden you’re allowed to snip from (I chose my parents)

Using my dad’s big scissors

All of these materials (except the scissors), were already in my gardening stash at home. So before you run out to the local hardware stores, ask your parents/friends/relatives if they have a spare metre of wire, or a few garden ties lying around. Save yourself a buck!

Make your frame

I said 2m of wire, but it really depends on how big you want your wreath. I first made a circle with the wire, and continued to wrap around to give some sturdiness. Bend the wire as best you can to a circle shape, but it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Creating the frame

Snip

I chose some non-flowering stems from my parents beautiful, lush green garden. Fresh flowers look beautiful in a wreath, but will quickly wilt over the course of the season. So if you want your wreath to last, choose leaves or non-flowering stems like I did! I picked three seperate trees to snip from for a bit of variety.

All the snippings

Make your bunches

Piece together small bunches of your foliage, and secure tightly with the garden ties. You can make the bunches as big or as small as you’d like. Obviously the fatter the bunch, the fuller your wreath will be. I’m opting for simplicity this year, and have chosen relatively small bunches.

A cable tied bunch

Secure to the frame & voila

Lay your first bunch and secure down to the frame with another garden tie. Layer another bunch over the first tie to help keep the garden tie hidden. Work your way around till you’ve reached the first bunch! I made a small hook with the garden wire to hang on the door. Give the wreath a spray of water every week, and pray it stays healthy for the Christmas season!

Halfway done

Wreath disposal

All the products in this project can be re-used for next years wreath. Be gentle un-twisting the ties to prevent them breaking, and the garden wire base can be used over and over for many years of wreath making. The leaves themselves can be put straight in the compost, or the organic waste bin if your city has a collection service.

The finished product

I’m very proud of my first attempt at wreath making. She’s certainly not perfect, and I definitely could have trimmed back some of the strays, but I love it’s wild look and it looks an absolute treat walking up towards the front door. With re-usable tools, this is a perfect way to create a zero waste Christmas wreath!


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decorations for the tree

Like many folks out there, Christmas is my favourite holiday. But unfortunately there is often a lot of waste involved. I’m aiming to create as little waste as possible this year – from presents, gift wrap, decorations and food. Today I started with my favourite part of the season, decorating the tree.

Our tiny tree

Some might say it’s a little early to put up the tree, but I truly couldn’t resist the urge. Last year was our first Christmas living out of home, so we bought ourselves a small (but admittedly plastic) tree, with the commitment we would have it forever. Last year I felt the tree was under-decorated and lacked some love. Instead of rushing out to buy some decorations from the store, I decided to make my own felt creations.

One of my Santas

Learn a craft

Hand sewing is probably the easiest craft out there. With simply a needle, thread and coloured felt, you can create your own, personalised decorations. If you don’t know how to sew, youtube can be your greatest resource. I’ve used the blanket stitch for my creations, it’s a nice and secure stitch, but also the most tidy looking. I used this video to teach myself, although there are plenty out there. I also think it’s extremely easy to pick up, even for a total novice. If your stitches aren’t perfectly even, who cares! it will still be something you’ve created from scratch.

A felt stocking in progress

Picking a pattern

As a seasoned crafter, some of these little felt creations were of my own imagination. Except for the little Santas, which I found a pattern for on Etsy as a PDF download (which is no longer available). If you head to Etsy and search for something like ‘Christmas felt decoration’, you’ll find a plethora of gorgeous, simple patterns available for a couple of dollars. I chose a simple design for mine, mostly because I have a thousand other projects on the go. But you can make it as complicated as your sewing skills allow.

Mid-angel creation

These angels were based off a homemade decoration I’d been given last year for Christmas (the one on the right), which ended up being a good excuse to use up some pipe cleaners I had stashed away!

Craft waste

Unfortunately, even craft has it’s waste. Acrylic thread that is sold in most craft shops is a non-compostable product. So any leftover pieces of thread I have – I use as stuffing for my decorations. This also applies to any un-usable pieces of felt as well. This also makes me think about decorations in stores. Although you can buy unpackaged decorations from the stores, you can’t control the waste that was involved in making the product.

A mini-christmas tree

Treasures forever

I will certainly be keeping my homemade decorations for years and years to come. I’m hoping to make even more next year, so that every branch on the tree has a decoration. The best part is, if any of these decorations break (or get attacked by one of my cats), I know how to fix them.

A chilly angel

Alongside our multi-coloured baubles, our tree is looking absolutely magnificent in all it’s tiny power. We both absolutely adore these felt beauties, and will be with us for as long as our lives. I’m looking forward to pulling out my decorations in twenty/thirty/forty years time, and feeling reminiscent of when they were created. It’s easy to be low/zero waste with as something as simple as tree decorations, so try and resist the urge to purchase another set of plastic decorations from the store. Take the plunge and make your own!


For my favourite video on how to do the blanket stitch, head to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0S7OLAb__E

For Etsy and patterns, head to https://www.etsy.com/


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essential oils

Oils have firmly set their place in our household. For homemade cleaning products, aromatherapy with daily yoga, and even when doing laundry. Essential oils are here to stay, but as I burn through them quickly, I’ve developed a small collection of empty bottles. Intent not to throw them in recycling, I’ve turned to the internet to help me find ways to re-use them.

A small portion of the collection

Oils in the laundry

Essential oils, particularly lemon + lavender scented, have become a staple in my laundry routine. The soapberries that we use as laundry detergent don’t have a scent. Instead, I add 4-5 drops of essential oils to the load, leaving a subtle smell on the clothes as they dry. I find this smell to be much less harsh and ‘chemically’ than regular scented washing powders.

Lemon oil & soapberries

Getting your own oils

If you want to start your own collection of oils, there are plenty of places to buy them. In the Huon Valley, south of Hobart, a store called Billy Hill Organics stock an enormous range of DoTerra products (the oils I have myself). Other places online like Australian Wholesale Oils, Biome and Flora & Fauna stock other oil brands/blends like Eco oils. A word of caution however. Be careful not to get sucked in to any MLM schemes, which seem to be hugely prevalent in the essential oil world. Brands like DoTerra are a straight up MLM, but I buy mine wholesale at Billy Hill, so luckily can avoid any weird sign up stuff. Just be careful!

Three of my favourite smelling blends

Getting rid of the residue

There are a couple of ways to get those last drops of oils out of their bottles. The internet had a plethora of complicated options, the easiest being simply place all parts of the bottle (lid included) into a glass of water and rest overnight. Simple science tells us the oil will rise to the top, and you can either pour it down the sink, or pop that water into your diffuser.

Drowning oil

Re-use before recycle

This should be a fairly standard rule of life. If there is a way to re-use something, then you get to avoid the recycling bin. Unfortunately I’m not clever enough to have come up with my own re-use ideas, so I’ve turned to the internet for some ideas. Out of all the blogs and youtube videos I watched, this is perhaps my favourite list of ideas from The Prairie Homestead. Here a few of my favourites that I’ve begun to use in my home:

ACCESSORIZE

By purchasing a little roller ball, spritzers or dropper, you can use the empty bottle to store your own custom blends. I make my own perfume, so by simply adding a roller top to my empty bottles, I have a place to store my homemade smell. Have a search around stores like Australian Wholesale Oils, Biome and Flora and Fauna for essential oil accessories. Eco oils sell oils with roller tops already attached.

A new place to store my perfume

A TINY VASE

Although not the most practical, this is the sweetest for sure! Stick a couple of short-stemmed flowers in a bottle, to add a little colour to the room. My succulents often bloom tiny flowers this time of year and need a prune, so I’ve chopped a few off to keep inside. Tiny flowers = tiny vase!

Perhaps my most favourite of ideas

SHEET SPRAY

By adding a few drops of essential oil + water to an empty bottle (or using the few remaining drops in the bottle), shake together and add a spritzer on top. I re-used the spritz top from an old Lush eye cream bottle. Spray over your sheets and pillows to keep your linen smelling fresh. The scent of lavender is meant to aid in stress relief, so if you’re a restless sleeper, try this lovely soothing smell.

Our new lavender sheet spray

There are probably a hundred other ways to re-use these little glass wonders, but these are the ones I’m using in my home. Whatever you use your oils for, don’t rush to throw them in the recycling. Like I said, re-using something should be a staple in everyday life. It forces you to become creative, and find different (and helpful) uses for seemingly useless items. Don’t just apply this theory to essential oil bottles, re-use the ‘re-use’ concept in all aspects of waste.

For my blog post on soapberries, head to https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/tassiegirlzerowaste.home.blog/477

For Australian Wholesale Oils range of essential oils, head to https://www.awo.com.au/essential-oils/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI_ZmotLDP5QIVRh0rCh01YwvzEAAYASAAEgKMCfD_BwE

For Biome range of essential oils, head to https://www.biome.com.au/module/ambjolisearch/jolisearch?search_query=essential+oil

For Flora & Fauna range of essential oils, head to https://www.floraandfauna.com.au/catalogsearch/result/index/?p=2&q=essential+oil

For The Prairie Homestead blog on essential oils, head to https://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2015/04/reuse-essential-oil-bottles.html

For my blog post on how to make homemade perfume, head to https://tassiegirlzerowaste.home.blog/2019/05/21/perfume/

For Eco Oils range of roller top oils, head to https://ecomodernessentials.com.au/collections/essential-oil-rollerballs


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stain remover

As a lover of red wine, Jake often finds himself with the odd stain on his shirt. Being a nurse myself, I also find my scrubs decorated with weird spots. As the chief laundry leader of our house, I make it my mission to remove these dreaded stains. But after relying on products like Napisan, I needed a planet friendly alternative. My old, zero waste method was to use vinegar, but I couldn’t guarantee an 100% success rate. So, I turned to a locally made product by my favourite Tasmanian soap makers.

The magical circle

Tuff stuff

The Tasmanian Soap Company are my no. 1 provider of soap. I recently learned they have tackled stain removers too, with this sweet smelling circle. Made from lemon eucalyptus oil, this stuff claims to be tough on oil, wine, ink, grass stains – and more. Even better, it’s not just for clothes! it’s useable on carpets and upholstery too! I picked one up from Teros for $8.95. You can also buy from other retailers around Hobart, or online from their sister website Tasmanian Market.

How it’s packaged

Packaging

The Tuff Stuff comes wrapped in a small net, with a rubber band and a paper tag. The paper tag went straight to the compost (after reading instructions obviously), and I use rubber bands for containers/bulk buying vegetables all the time. The netting itself is part of the process, perhaps as an exfoliant even. But more importantly, it prevents those last shreds of soap being lost in the form of a ‘soap saver’. So even when this Tuff Stuff is used up, I’ll keep this netting as a regular soap saver! win!

Netting = soap saver

Red wine stain

I decided to be bold and trust in the product by pouring a splash of red wine onto one of my white gym shirts. I rinsed it off as I usually would, and got to work with the Tuff Stuff. The instructions were too wet the netted soap, begin lathering onto the stain, and rinse.

About to tackle the red wine stain, ultimate trust exercise

After only a few moments of scrubbing, the stain turned blue! I kept on scrubbing, but the blue wouldn’t come out with the Tuff Stuff alone. I decided I would pop the shirt through the wash and see how it turned out, which I suppose is what I would normally due for a stain anyway.

From red to blue, but no longer red!

On a normal wash load, the shirt came out with zero remnants of a red wine stain, how brilliant! In fact, the shirt actually looked whiter in the places I’d used the Tuff Stuff. Proving that even the most awful stain (red on white), is easily tackled with an extra minute of scrubbing with the Tuff Stuff. I 100% adore this product, and my shirt smelt beautifully of lemon.

Final results, a success!

What a successful purchase this was. My first encounter with a stain remover made with natural ingredients, zero waste packaging, and truly does what it sets out to do! Now I will freely drink red wine and spill it everywhere, knowing I have back up sitting in my laundry.


For The Tasmanian Soap Company, head to https://thetasmaniansoapcompany.com.au/

For their Tuff Stuff stain remover, head to https://www.tasmanianmarket.com.au/tuff-stuff-stain-remover/


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fabric softener

Although I’m not particularly concerned with softness, many people are attached to their fuzzy towels and soft clothes. Letting go of fabric softener in our transition wasn’t particularly concerning, except for the towels becoming a little scratchy. Fabric softener has become a staple in many people’s home, but often comes in plastic bottles. Luckily there are natural alternatives to keep your laundry nice and soft!

Getting rid of what you’ve got

The fabric softener section of the supermarket is loaded with plastic bottles, and admittedly we did dabble with some ‘fluffy’ brand fabric softener (mostly because it made the laundry smell so nice). If you’re like us and have a bottle or two leftover, keep them for bulk buying purposes. Otherwise, if they’re not recyclable, they’ll be destined for landfill (probably end up in landfill anyway if you recycle them).

Our very old fluffy bottle, now houses dishwashing liquid

Vinegar – nature’s softener

Don’t let the unfavourable smell of vinegar put you off. White vinegar is brilliant for cleaning purposes, but also works to soften laundry if used at the correct moment*. According to The Spruce, by adding 1/4 of a cup in the fabric softener shoot in your machine, you’ll reap many benefits including:

Image taken from The Spruce

*It’s important to note that you add the vinegar in during the rinse cycle of your wash. This means you can’t really leave the washing machine going while you run off, you have to keep your eye on it.

White vinegar – nature’s softener

Thankfully, white vinegar is accessible in bulk in Hobart. We top up old vinegar bottles at Unpacked in Kingston for a couple of bucks, and it lasts us quite a long time. Check your local bulk buy store to see if it’s available to you.

Results

As the chief of laundry in our household, I started implementing this magical idea to help keep our ~expensive~ towels soft. I was hesitant at first, as I didn’t want our towels smelling like vinegar, but it worked a damn treat. No vinegar residue, just the sweet smell of lemon essential oil I pop in too.

Our fancy coral towels, soft as ever

Avoid the dryer

Lots of folks say the best way to keep clothes (especially towels) soft is to pop them in the dryer. If you’re using solar power, then all credit to you! but going zero waste extends further than the products you buy, but how much energy you are consuming too. Ditching the dryer will probably help the power bill, but help reduce your personal carbon footprint.

Our local laundromat, great for last minute-cat pee-sheet drying

Since living in our rental, we haven’t really missed having a dryer. If we are absolutely desperate, we pack the car and head off to our local laundromat to use their industrial dyer. But that’s only occurred when our kitten has peed on both sets of sheets at 6pm at night. For now, we’ll stick with vinegar to keep our laundry soft!

For The Spruce original article on vinegar uses in laundry, head to https://www.thespruce.com/top-uses-for-vinegar-in-laundry-2147286


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laundry detergent

In my zero waste journey, I’ve noticed a number of folks are steering away from using laundry detergent. In search of a more natural alternative, people are now turning to soap berries. I was desperate to try these out due to the rave reviews, and now I’m officially a convert!

Jake’s shirts making use of the sun

Getting rid of what you’ve got

Washing powder usually comes in little cardboard boxes. These should be recyclable, as long as there’s no residue left over. The little plastic scoop can be kept for bulk buying purposes, otherwise they’re destined for landfill. Some liquid detergents will be recyclable once empty and some won’t, so check the label on the back for the little recyclable symbol. But the best you can do is to keep your bottles for bulk buying.

Bulk buy

For a while, we were topping up our laundry liquid in an old floor cleaner bottle at our local bulk buy shops. It cost around $5 to fill to the top, and was a decent quality detergent. Some bulk buy stores also have laundry powder too!

Our floor cleaner bottle turned laundry liquid holder

Soap berries

Although buying laundry liquid in bulk was a perfectly fine solution, I’d seen the term ‘soap berries’ popping up on lots of zero waste forums and decided to check them out. A soap berry is the the dried shell of a little fruit, grown on the Sapindus Mukorossi tree in Nepal. This little shell is high in ‘Saponin’, which is otherwise known as ‘Natures’ Soap’.

5 little soap berries

Australian owned brand That RedHouse, have the monopoly on the soap berry industry, and are available through plenty of online retailers. This brand places a huge focus on sustainability, and state that soap berry production is 100% sustainable. The production of soap berries, picked by the local community, also helps to reduce deforestation in the Himalayas – so it’s a win win! I bought mine in store at my local Hill Street, but other places around Hobart like Teros sell them too.

That RedHouse also donate a portion of their profits to Open Heart International, a charity that focuses on women’s health in Nepal. If you want to read more about this, click here for a very interesting read.

ThatRedHouse soap berries

All it takes is five soap berries in a little mesh bag (that comes with the berries) and simply pop it in with your next wash. Each bag of 5 berries will last 4-5 washes and will break apart when they’ve reached their peak. That equates to around 10c per wash load. Once finished, these little suckers can go straight into the compost bin. Because they don’t have a natural scent, I pop in 4-5 drops of essential oil in as well.

Little mesh bag

Whether it’s buying laundry detergent in bulk or testing out some soap berries, these are cost-effective changes that will help to reduce waste when washing clothes. Even further, we’ve reduced our consumption by using cold wash only, and exclusively air drying our washing. No dryers in this house!

For That RedHouse, head to https://www.thatredhouse.com.au/

For That RedHouse soap berries, head to https://www.biome.com.au/soap-nuts/15377-soapberry-shells-250g-799439052888.html

For That RedHouse commitment to Open Heart International, head to https://www.thatredhouse.com.au/pages/open-heart-international


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coffee

As a non coffee-drinker, I didn’t think I’d have to consider going zero waste with coffee. But since Jake got himself a French press, he’s been making his own daily brew at home instead of going to the local cafe. Although I completely support his coffee habits, we decided to search for ways to reduce the waste involved.

Jake loves a long black

Getting rid of what you’ve got

COFFEE JARS

If you’re an instant coffee drinker (no shame) then one small blessing is that the jars are great for re-use. Whether it’s for bulk buying or extra storage, keep your jars and find a reason to re-use them. I can’t find any direct information on whether these jars are recyclable, which is mostly due to the fact that lots of instant coffee jars have plastic in the lids. So play it safe, and keep them out of recycling.

An old Moccona jar re-used to store sumac

COFFEE PODS

According to One Million Women, coffee pods made from plastic will end up in landfill (obviously). So if that is the type you’re using, you’ll have to make peace knowing that’s where they’ll go. The other alternative is the ‘new style’ coffee pods made from aluminium. Although aluminium is an abundant resource and infinitely recyclable, it is very energy intensive. So neither option is really ideal when aiming for a closed-loop system.

Image taken from Nespresso website

The Nespresso brand has really got the monopoly on the coffee pod world, probably due to the George Clooney endorsement. Luckily the brand has recognised their environmental impact and have created a recycling program for their pods. If you, or your workplace use Nespresso pods, you can use this link on their website to find a drop off point for used pods near you. These drop off points are florists and nurseries around your town!

COFFEE GROUNDS

Coffee grounds can serve many purposes once used to produce delicious coffee. The biggest win is that coffee grounds can be added to the compost! As a nitrogen rich, PH neutral resource, adding coffee grounds to your composting will help to speed up the process. There are also plenty of other gardening benefits with coffee grounds, like for fertilising, so if you want to know more click here for a great article.

The last of Jakes coffee grounds

Buy straight from the source

A few of the local cafe’s around us are starting to sell their coffee beans in bulk. In Hobart alone, cafe’s like Villino will sell you beans in your own container equivalent to the size of their bags. If you have a favourite local cafe, just ask and see what they can do. We picked up around 500g of beans from the Currency Cafe in Lindisfarne for $12.50!

Airtight jar full of delicious coffee beans

If you’re buying beans then you’ll need your own bean grinder. Luckily, Jake managed to re-home a beautiful coffee grinder from his parents for no price at all. If you don’t have one and want to grind your own beans, have a look on Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, or your local tip shop to see if anyone is selling one nearby. Otherwise you can pick one up from your local homewares store, or places like Teros sell stainless steel ones from Podstar for around $40.

Jakes coffee making collection

Nespresso re-usable pods

If you’re deeply attached to the Nespresso machine, then you may be in luck. Podstar have a re-usable, stainless steel coffee pod that is compatible with most (not all) Nespresso coffee machines. Other brands like SealPod and WayCap also sell stainless steel pods compatible with Nespresso machines. You can buy these online through many different retailers, or in store from places like Teros in Hobart.

Screenshot taken from Teros website

Take-away coffee

I think most people are aware with how many coffee cups end up in landfill, and it’s particularly distressing knowing people are still using take away cups when it’s probably one of the easiest things to replace in the world. So get yourself a keep cup! Lots of coffee shops will even offer you a discount for using your keep cup, as you’re saving them money too! But that being said, you don’t even need a fancy keep cup. Take a jar, a mug or anything that will hold hot liquid in it.

My ceramic keep cup

If you forget your keep cup, then take a moment to sit down and enjoy a nice cuppa. If you’re short on time, really evaluate whether it’s a necessity for you, and always keep the planet in mind. The changes we’ve made at home were super simple, and required no sacrifice. I know Jake is very happy with his first bulk buy purchase of beans, with lots of coffee drinking in sight.

My bean with his beans

For One Million Women article on coffee pods, head to https://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/recycling-your-coffee-pods-nespresso-recycling-scheme-working/

For Nespresso pod recycling drop off points, head to https://www.nespresso.com/au/en/storeLocator#map-intro

For Gardening Know How article on coffee grounds use in the garden, head to https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/composting/ingredients/coffee-grounds-gardening.htm

For Podstar stainless steel coffee grinders, head to https://teros.eco/products/podstarcoffeegrinder?_pos=1&_sid=2e7f73579&_ss=r

For Podstar stainless steel coffee pods, head to https://teros.eco/products/podstarpods?_pos=2&_sid=2e7f73579&_ss=r

For SealCap stainless steel coffee pods, head to https://teros.eco/products/sealpodrefillablecoffeecapsulestarterpack?_pos=4&_sid=2e7f73579&_ss=r

For WayCap stainless steel coffee pods, head to https://teros.eco/products/waycapezonepack?_pos=5&_sid=2e7f73579&_ss=r


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