What does sustainable living actually look like on a daily basis? We all have a different version, and this is mine! I started my journey of low-waste living (it’s low-waste at the moment as I slowly transition towards a zero-waste lifestyle) a few years ago, after having been vegan for a while I wanted to take it a step further and help the planet more by cutting down my waste contribution, and reduce my footprint. I’ve made quite a few changes to the way I do things and the choices I make (there’s many more changes I can make, and am making at the moment to “be a better human” for the planet), which have started to feel normal now (it can feel strange at first, and something you may need to consciously think about, but it quickly becomes routine once you’ve done it a few times).
I thought I’d share a typical “day in the life” to explain some of the low-waste/zero-waste/sustainable choices I make every day to help reduce my impact on our planet. This is what sustainable living looks like for me.
Sustainable Living: A Day in My Life
Breakfast always look different each day for me. Sometimes I’ll make eggs (yes, I’ve started having eggs again. I source them from a local farm where you can actually see how the chickens are cared for. I still eat vegan, just with eggs added to the mix), other days I’ll make a keto bircher, smashed avocado on toast (I usually call it smashed avo), smoothie, or sometimes I even skip breakfast altogether as a way to fast. It really depends on what I feel like (I try to eat high fat, low carb mostly as a way to reduce inflammation in my body caused by excess sugar consumption).
I often make my own plant milk, as I find it’s way creamier, and I like how I can make it plastic-free by storing it in a glass jar in my refrigerator. If you want to go a step further, you can source the nuts or seeds from a bulk foods store, bring your own container to carry them in, and then you’ve made the entire process plastic-free! My favourite plant-based milk at the moment is macadamia. It’s high in omega-3 fats, lower carb, and is less impactful on the planet (as I’ve been reading about the impact almond farming has been having on our planet; from monoculture to reducing bee populations).
When it comes to washing up dishes, I’ve been researching into making my own dishwashing soaps recently, and am in the process of trying a few out to see which ones work best. The same goes with laundry detergents and bathroom cleaners in our household… the homemade versions are still a work in progress at the moment.
My bathroom routine is pretty simple. I make almost ALL of my personal care products; from skin care to hair care. I made my own body soap to use in the shower (it’s all natural and eco-friendly), my own natural toothpaste (I use a bamboo toothbrush that I can compost once it’s reached the end of its life), I was making my own shampoo, but I’ve transitioned over to a shampoo bar soap now that’s plastic packaging-free and made from all natural ingredients. I also use a bamboo hair brush to comb my hair, and I’ve been collecting old/used hair ties (like those spiral plastic ones) that I find lying around on the ground to use on my own hair, rather than buy my own (before you say “ew, gross!”, I do boil them to help shrink them back to new again (so they’re not all stretched-out), and it also cleans them). I’ve made my own hair ties, too, using old stockings and tights that had holes in them. It’s safe to say I’m now set for life on hair ties. For skin care, I follow the Oil-Cleansing Method, which just means I cleanse my skin with natural oils like hazelnut and olive oil to remove dirt and to ensure my skin stays nourished and hydrated. It’s toxin-free, and prevents skin from being stripped of its natural oils, keeping it healthier. I also have a body brush which I use to exfoliate my skin before my showers. For ear-cleaning, I use a reusable metal utensil called a Mimikaki stick to clean my ears, rather than using disposable cotton tips or ear picks.
For moisturising, I use a homemade body butter, or, if I’m in a rush, coconut oil works a treat! For deodorant, I tend to purchase a pre-made, natural one from a local company called Paudha Healing, who source their ingredients from the Blue Mountains. I reuse the containers and cream jars it comes in to store my homemade natural products in (they’re the perfect size!). I have made my own natural deodorant in the past, but as I sweat a lot, I find this pre-made one lasts much longer (and better) than my homemade one. I know this must sound like a lot of effort to make all these things, but I swear it’s not! They’re just really easy and simple recipes, and the quantities last a long time, so I don’t need to make them often, just every once in a while.
I use a moon cup (a reusable menstrual cup) whenever I’m on my period. I swear it’s been the best thing ever!
At this present moment, I’ve been using normal toilet paper (and recycle the soft plastic packaging – more on that later), but I’ve been looking into toilet paper brands to transition over to, and at the moment Who Gives a Crap has caught my attention. They’re an Australian Company that donate 50% of their profits to water charities and don’t package their paper in plastic.
If I get takeaway, or bring lunch to work, I have a stainless steel reusable container that I bring my food in.
I keep a coconut cutlery set (with a metal reusable straw added in), a stainless steel water bottle (I’m not a fan of plastic reusable water bottles, as they, too, can leach chemicals into the water they’re holding within them), and a reusable coffee cup in my bag at home, ready to take out with me at a moment’s notice! (They don’t weigh much or take up much room, and you never know when they might come in handy!)
A few of my many reusables: coffee cup (being used as an ice-cream cup), stainless steel water bottle, sunglasses made from recycled materials, stainless steel container, moon cup.
I have an organic veggie garden out the back of our house, where currently, at this very moment, we’re growing kale, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, tomatoes, aloe vera, and a range of different herbs such as oregano, thyme, mint, lavender, parsley, sage, viola, and more!
As a sustainable side to this, I’m experimenting with collecting seeds from a few of my plants (like my broccoli and tomato plants), to plant into our garden for the next season, rather than going to the local nursery and purchasing the seeds there (that way I know for certain how the plant was cared for, and that it was grown organically!)
I also collect used coffee grounds from work and Bunnings Warehouse (when I go shopping for DIY things there) to pop in my compost, as it’s a rich source of nitrogen for plants, which is the nutrient that produces healthy green growth and strong stems.
Whenever I do purchase products with plastic packaging on them (it happens more often than I’d like, but I’m slowly reducing my plastic use!), I try and recycle as much of it as possible in our soft plastics recycling. We have an allocated “soft plastics recycling” bag that we collect all our soft plastics in. When it’s full, we take it to our local Redcycle drop-off point (usually found at a Coles or Woolworths supermarket), where recycle them into products like benches, decking, signage, etc. However, all soft plastics must be washed and dried before they can be recycled, so you need to clean and dry them beforehand. Also, only certain soft plastics are accepted (they have a list of the soft plastics you can and can’t recycle on their website).
Any paper I use, I try and recycle as much of it as possible (I’ve heard that it’s a better use of resources to recycle paper rather than compost it, so now that’s what I do).
When it comes to my wardrobe, I try to be as minimalistic as possible (it’s been quite hard!). I only own clothes that I wear on a regular basis, any other clothing items I owned were donated to our local charity collection site. If I’m in need of clothes, I only purchase ethically & sustainably made items, made from natural and sustainable materials like recycled plastics, bamboo, or hemp. I also look on the Company’s website to see what environmental/sustainable practices they have in place. Wolven Threads is one of the clothing companies I occasionally buy from, and what I really like about them is how their clothing is made from recycled materials. They’re also a carbon neutral company (yay!) as they’ve partnered with Climate Neutral, where they purchase carbon credits to offset any greenhouse gas emissions created during the manufacturing process to help reduce their carbon footprint. These carbon credits support a range of projects such as rainforest conservation and landfill methane-capture. They also use a natural fibre called beechwood pulp that’s twice as soft as cotton, and is sustainably harvested. Beech trees propagate and regenerate naturally, so no artificial irrigation or planting is required. These fibres require no toxic pesticides, no clear-cut farm land to grow, and use substantially less water than cotton.
I’ve also been looking at second-hand stores for clothes, getting many suggestions, ideas, and inspiration from zero-waste Instagrammers I follow! I’m working on making my wardrobe 100% biodegradable and natural fibres (or as close as I can to that).
I tend to only drink water from our tap that’s been filtered through our water filter jug (I’m looking at switching to charcoal sticks as a more zero-waste water filter, as you can compost them when finished, and they last up to 6 months!).
I buy loose leaf tea, and have a reusable tea bag (made with organic cotton) that I take with me when out and about (like at work for instance).
Dinner is always different. I have lots of veggies (using as much of the produce from our garden as possible), nuts, seeds, lentils, and sometimes eggs. My sister has also been getting eggs from her boyfriend’s place, where they have their own chickens (which I absolutely LOVE, and secretly never want them to break up because of it). I could honestly dedicate a whole other post to what we eat (and maybe I will!). We always make enough for leftovers the following day (and maybe even a couple of days).
We never have to worry about leftovers going to waste, as there’s six of us in our family, so any food in the fridge is gone within a few days (if not the next day!). In the case of food scraps, we have a compost out the back of our house, where we compost almost all of our food scraps, which I then use as an organic fertiliser for our garden. I also have a compost turner which I use to turn and aerate our compost at least 3 times a week, to ensure it stays light, fluffy and “healthy”.
My favourite pastime at the moment is reading. Now, most of my books were bought new, but of recent times I have been looking at second-hand bookstores, but I haven’t bought anything from them… yet.
Here’s a vlog I did sharing what I do in an average day to live more sustainably:
What are some low-waste, sustainable, holistic health practices that you’ve added into your daily life? How did you find transitioning to more of a sustainable lifestyle? Share your experience below! We’d love hear!
Lots of love,