We all know there's A LOT of information out there. We get confused sometimes too! SO....we created this list to make it easy to up your eco game this year.
✔️Choices Checklist 1.0 covers our basic plastic-free swaps, perfect when you are starting out or great for some reminders.
✔️Read and download the Choices Checklist 2.0 now that you are ready to move beyond Bags, Coffee Cups and Straws.
🌱OUR TOP TIP? Start small, focus on one change at a time. These really add up! Know that other people are out there working on the puzzle too - collectively we are having big impacts, creating a new normal and demanding change from business and government.
A description for all the items are listed below so read any of the full explanations for the points that you aren't sure about.
Options Explained One-By-One:
Easy plastic-free swaps, refer to Choices Checklist 1.0 here.
Food & Take-Away Packaging
Choose reusable, hyper recyclable or home-compostable packaging. Buy the bigger pack and divide at home. Go Bulk Shopping for all dry goods and liquids. Make and bake your own food. See our low-waste recipes here.
When getting take away, reduce paper bag use and reuse them - those trees come from somewhere. Support businesses with cup/container return schemes since they are trying hard to create change too!
A trying time but well worth making changes - kids are the leaders of the future and teaching them to respect the planet means a more sustainable future in more ways than one. You are creating a new norm raising eco-friendly kids.
Try cloth nappies - even 1 a day adds up to huge change. Opt for second hand toys, or visit your local toy library and toy swaps groups. Same goes for clothes - second-hand and swap! Be specific with friends and family who give gifts letting them know exactly what you need or having rules around what comes into the house. Rejecting a gift can be hard but it stops the waste before it starts. Try this with family verbally and notes on party invitations - positive communication is key!
For kids food, making your own is really a great way to reduce waste. There's a lot of packaging behind bought meals. You can get dry whole foods and liquids in bulk in most places around NZ now. Consider a subscription if there's one in your area. Have reusable drink bottles and good quality lunchboxes for your kids, it will be more exciting for them to eat their food too!
Personal Care Products:
We are all about refilling your shampoo/conditioner/body wash bottles - you can do this at your local Bin Inn, Goodfor and most local Organic Shops. Opting for bars is another option and works well for us.
Have a totally waste-free Period with cups and reusable undies/pads is now super achievable, accessible and (in our eyes) a much nicer monthly experience!
Try out a Cali Safety Razor for some low waste, low irritating shaves. DIY Deodorant or buy one that is packaged in a glass jar, like Little Mango, or a cardboard tube. Toothtablets, bamboo toothbrushes and Stainless Tongue Cleaners are are big yes. We support low-tox alternatives with the fewest ingredients - more info check out the Low Waste Beauty Guide.
Start a home compost (bokashi bin, the Hungry Bin worm farm and rotating compost have all worked for us) or sign up to curb-side compost collection. We Compost and The Compost Couriers are in Auckland and there are others setting up around the country. Get your workplace on board too!
Plan your meals so that there is less waste and be sure to finish left overs! Gift extra food to community food collectors & charities if you are a business. This is an area where you can be really impactful quite easily so check out more info in the Low Waste Food Guide.
Our tips - see the value in what you already own as that is truly the most sustainable item! It doesn't need to be made or transported. Repair things when they break. Wear new combinations, swap with friends and get some inspiration from your local second hand store. Check out Ethically Kate and Fashion Revolution for more inspiration.
Buy from businesses with a sustainable fashion focus and dig into what they really stand for. A great kiwi example is WE-AR, they stand for all things ethical and have been creating change for quite some time.
Fashion is one of the most damaging industries in the world, to both people and planet. Prioritise natural fabrics (because synthetic fabrics pollute the ocean, find more about this topic here).
Don't be afraid to ask the business 'who made my clothes?' - find out the real story behind the cute dress. There's no business that is perfect but there are some out there who are really trying to make change. Use your dollar to support them.
Washing our synthetic clothing and bedding pollutes the ocean, up to 700,000 pieces in one load. How can you help to reduce micro-plastics? Reduce your washing frequency, spot wash, choose natural fabric, use a front loader, use liquid or dissolve powder first, use a Cora Ball or Guppy Bag when washing. More info in the How Washing Our Clothes Is Polluting The Ocean Blog.
Party Decorations and Balloons:
Parties can be a single-use waste disaster - but they don't have to be! Make eco confetti by hole punching leaves, decorations on sticks can replace balloons and swap for Beeswax candles on cakes.
Use what you have and save decorations for repeat use. It's completely okay to use the same decorations, in fact you're a legend for doing so. Check out second hand shops and get creative!
Number one, design well by taking the time to learn about things yourself. That way you'll have a well informed idea of what is possible when you go to DIY or talk to your Tradie. Look into Permaculture principles and see what aspects of this philosophy you can adopt - we loved the film Living The Change.
Work with a sustainable Tradie, there are some out there who are really trying to change the face of the construction industry. Shop second hand shops and wreckers to reuse parts or furnish interior. Utilise free construction waste apps such as CivilShare and other cool platforms like FreeForAll.
Cleaning products are essential, but we can opt for greener and more sustainable products. Lots of cleaning products on the market contain harmful chemicals and are in single-use plastic. We are all about reducing harm on the planet and in our homes, so we encourage opting for natural cleaning products in reusable glass jars. We encourage you to check the ingredients on your cleaning products, and try DIY recipes with ingredients in your kitchen.
Refill Cleaning Products at your local Bin Inn, Goodfor or local Organic Stores with repurposed jars and bottles. There's also an online Refill service by The Honest Eco and Figgy and Co are awesome too - more info in the Low Waste Bathroom, Laundry & Pets Blog.
Forage flowers, wrap with newspaper, use brown paper and twine. For the boho look, hang old flowers upside down and dry for a second life. Find a local florist with responsible supply chain and packaging, we love Blooms Day.
Random Accumulated Waste:
Sometimes unavoidable! Can you take polystyrene to your local recycling centre? Old, deflated pool toys are now being reused by IUsedToBe! Avoid what you can, find a second life for items and dispose responsibly of anything left over.
Look up your local Recycling Centre online. They often have stores with them too where you can find lots of treasures instead of buying new.
Reduction and responsible consumption of meat and dairy is a big way we can care for mama earth. Grow Your Own Food, support local farmers and community gardens, eat in season and know the clean 15 and dirty dozen. Learn more in The Diet of 2019 blog.
Share information with friends and family - via conversation and social media. Write to businesses and the government, sign petitions and make a stand for the way you want to see the world going.
We love when you guys start your own campaigns in the area that you are passionate about. You can do this easily via ActionStation Aotearoa or Change.org. Here's the link to what you need for your petition to be considered by Parliament in NZ.
Attend peaceful protest standing against climate, oil exploration, food systems, government laws.... there are so many positive strikes to get involved with to make a stand for our future.
Buying Lots of 'Stuff':
Think about any purchase for at least one week before you follow through. Often in this time you will decipher if it is something you truly need or if you are just impulse buying out of habit.
If you need it then buy from quality brands doing good things or consider buying second hand to reduce landfill. Declutter and minimise where possible. Ask yourself, do I need this? What will happen at the end of its life? Can I dispose of this properly? Is there a more sustainable alternative available? Can I borrow or lend it instead?
Electronics and E-Waste:
Cords, phones, tvs - all electronics should be stashed and then properly collected at an e-cycling drop zone. Find one near you in NZ here. Opt for buying second hand or refurbished technology if possible to reuse what we have!
Utilise public transport and ride sharing - starting with once a week. There's a cool website called Co-Seats where you can even post your trips and get a gas contribution. Or if you want the added benefit of earth AND physical wellness opt for walking and biking.
Understand how to recognise home compostable vs commercially compostable products. Home compost all relevant material - this is much better than landfill! More info in The Truth About Compostables blog.
Make a stand in your industry and use your unique skill set and life experience to create bottom up change. Ask where the waste REALLY goes - who collects it and can it be separated further.
A some stage in your working life you will have the experience and choice to work somewhere that makes you feel really good. Work where you can contribute, somewhere you actually want to go everyday. If you aren't quite there yet my your own change by making requests to managers and CEOs - backed with support from your co-workers.
Businesses have big impact in communities and the world over so don't underestimate the power of change in this sector. Sign up to UYO if you are in hospitality and if your workplace or business is doing great things then become a member of The Sustainable Business Network.
Vote for the world you want to live in everyday when you buy. Check your Kiwisaver via mindfulmoney.org.nz. Ask your bank what they stand for and what they invest your money in. Change accounts if required.
Plan ahead and make changes for this July. It's a month where millions of people come together, commit to reducing waste and create habits that stick for good.
Use the tick list on the right hand column to commit to changes together!
Changing habits, removing plastic and doing more research can feel overwhelming at the start, but it's 100% doable and trust us you will feel SO good doing this for yourself and mama earth. Use this checklist to excel your journey, and refer back to 1.0 when needed for basic eco swaps done well.