The Hate To Waste experiment

Is living a waste free life style something achievable for all of us?

Someone I was chatting to recently introduced me to the concept of a zero waste lifestyle. When they described to me what is required, I was thinking this is something that will take a lot of time and effort and I have so much else going on, I am not sure it is something that I can start looking at starting. It’s definitely something I’ll look at in the future.

When I heard about what is involved, I felt like it would be a massive change and it just isn’t something I have the capacity to do at the moment.  The thing is, the idea kept on going round and round in my mind and I thought that it is something I would really like to do and something I really should explore.

Then I got chatting to a friend about habits and how you form them, and we discussed the fact that you can start small and then build them up over time as they get more engrained as the way you do things. This started to make the task look smaller and more achievable. This is the great thing about building habits in this way, it starts to look more attainable than if you take on a big life change all at once.

So, I started investigating what sort of things you can do to become waste free. As it stands at the moment, I am not sure how far I will take this, but the commitment I have decided to make is to research one area each month and try to incorporate relevant changes into my daily life to create a habit.

The more I read about this way of life, the more I realise I have a long way to go, but the advantage of this is that I can make a lot of changes relatively easily.

I came across the ‘We Hate To Waste’ website and as it is so clear and simple, I am using that to help me with this mission. They talk about 7 facets of a no waste mindset:

  1. Reduce, Reuse, Refill
  2. Share Rather than Own
  3. Save Water, Energy and other sources
  4. Respect Food
  5. Live efficiently
  6. Repair and repurpose
  7. Recycle or compost

They claim that adopting this mindset can guide anyone to reduce needless waste from their lives, so let’s see! If I take on one area a month, in 7 months, I should have considerably changed the way I approach things.

So, the experiment is to research one of the areas in more detail each month, share an overview of how you can reduce waste in the area, decide what I will aim to achieve in that area, my progress against these goals and any tips I can share from what I found.

My 1st challenge will be under the first category ‘Smart purchasing: reduce, reuse and refill.’

This is about what you buy, or sometimes even more importantly what you don’t buy. I have detailed some principles I have found to follow under this ‘Reduce, Reuse and Refill category’ here:

  • Less is more. Less quantity and more quality, invest in good quality stuff
  • Don’t buy anything you don’t need, avoid buy one get one free
  • Place more value on utilitarian goods than materialistic items
  • Buy classic styles that will last for years
  • Actively abstain from using wasteful products such as single use plastic bottles and cutlery
  • Bring your own bag so you do not need to use plastic bags
  • Bring your own lunch
  • What to do about ‘to go’ food packaging waste
  • Switch to a reusable coffee cup
  • Use collapsible food containers for doggy bags
  • Use a refillable water bottle
  • Avoid excessive packaging

Over the next month, the 5 things I am committing to try and incorporate into my daily routine are:

  1. Stop drinking out of plastic bottles. I currently drink one or 2 a day, so I am going to try and stop this habit and instead use a glass from work that I will keep filling up.
  2. Stop using plastic cutlery. I use this most days as I have a takeaway from the canteen at work. If I need cutlery I will use normal cutlery and wash it after use.
  3. Bring my own shopping bag. I have bought a shopping back that folds up tiny and I can put in my handbag, so that I no longer have to use plastic bags at the supermarket.
  4. Bring my own lunch. I am going to where possible bring my own food to work, so I don’t have to buy anything from the canteen and use the takeaway plastic containers they provide.
  5. Mindful purchases. I am going to be conscious of what I am buying, is it really necessary, am I buying quality that will last.

I am sure there is more I can do in this area, but I feel like that is a good start to try and incorporate over the next month.

I’d love to hear any hints and tips you have and your ideas on anything you have done to reduce waste that I could add to part of this experiment.


  1. Roelien Naude June 30, 2015 at 4:13 pm #

    Oh my gosh…so many lessons to learn here…..but I am inspired indeed. Will start with not drinking from plastic bottles….


    • Mel Johnson June 30, 2015 at 7:36 pm #

      Am glad you are inspired Roelien. I have realized it is very easy to make some small changes that really start to add up over time. If you like WeHateToWaste on Facebook, there are some really useful tips on changes you can make.


  2. Elly July 5, 2015 at 5:26 am #

    So sensible to start small. I always tend to get excited about something, try to do it all and fail miserably!
    I’d always avoided looking at waste because I couldn’t ‘do it perfectly ‘ but you’ve got some good suggestions of how to start making a difference. Thanks.


    • Mel Johnson July 5, 2015 at 5:42 am #

      That’s exactly the same as me Elly! It previously seemed too big to be achievable. This way, starting small, it is very manageable, but you will be amazed with the results. It’s really making me mindful of all the decisions I am making. Look out for my next article in the series as I am capturing all the hints and tips I am learning along the way and also showing how small changes can make very big results 🙂


  3. Orsetta July 8, 2015 at 9:26 pm #

    Good luck and I hope you will keep going!
    There are so many things you can do and it is good to chose and start to do the one you think are more you. You can also look into natural skin products or make your own. The no “poo” Method:
    Organise or participate to a restart Party : where volunteers help people repair broken objects. Go to a clothes swap you will find so many things there! and if there are non in your are you can organise one! Good luck! and look at Twice as New on Facebook for tips and hints..


    • Mel Johnson July 9, 2015 at 5:03 am #

      Thanks for your message. There are loads of great ideas on Twice as New, so I will definitely use that as I progress on this journey. So far it is going really well and I am amazed at how the small changes add up. I am trying to stick to a few things each month to ensure I form a habit properly, before moving onto the next things, but I am really being a lot more mindful about the decisions I make since I have started this. Thanks for your ideas, I will incorporate them into what I am doing.



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