Success and failure in my waste free experiment…

Posted: September 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

Hi folks,

Here are some things that have worked and some that have failed while I have been trying to reduce waste in my life… There are just a few, I will post more later so you are not utterly bored 🙂


1. Buying dry food bulk saves packaging. I found the awesome – Flannerys in Brisbane – I take their brown paper bags and reuse them. I should take my own jars etc, I will work up to that. For San Francisco folks, you guys have the incredibly awesome Rainbow Grocery store

2. Composting: seriously, really really easy. Find a any old large container in your house and put it in the corner next to your sink. I found a pretty looking bright red one which makes it all the better. When it gets full, I scoop up my toddler and we go for a walk outside and dump it in our community garden’s compost. You can easily buy a compost bin at your local Bunnings or local hardware store. If you live in an apartment with no balcony. That’s tough. I will investigate more and write a post on composting.

3. Making bread: We go through two loaves of bread a week. We bought a breadmaker – and the key to making your life easier here is that we also bought a large paper bag of bread maker pre-mixed flour. The brand I got is Lautke, available in your supermarket’s baking isle. Easy peasy.. delicious fresh bread. The alternative is to buy bread from your baker and avoid any plastic packaging which I did for a while but I hate going to our local mall.

4. Living without some things: If I need to buy something new, I think carefully about if I can make it. If not, I actively look for whether I can get it in paper or glass. Paper is compostable and Glass is reusable. If not, I see if I can live with out it and instead come up with a creative alternative. Most of the time we can.

5. Making liquid soap and cleaners: HUGE success. Not sure why this is number 5, oh well. I used castille soap paste which I bought from  and mixed with a few drop of various types of essential oils found in my cupboard to create different liquid soaps for handwashing, shower and dishwashing. The delivery did come with a bit of packaging which was not impressive but I managed to re use most of it and recycle the rest. I also made household cleaner using 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water and have it in a spray bottle. I also have a little shaker with bicarbonate soda for cleaning needs.


1. Using cotton thread instead of floss did not work. It kept breaking and was just plain uncomfortable. I might have to look into get a Waterpik. For now, I have a tonne of little floss packs that arrived from SF as leftovers of my consumer binge I went on while living in the U.S. umm..Thanks Amazon?!

2. Trying to reduce grocery packaging waste. I have been in this huge conundrum about getting groceries delivered. Home fresh organics is a lot more expensive but more importantly uses a lot of unnecessary packaging and makes lame excuses when asked about it. Aussie farmers direct is great in terms of not using much packaging, but the website sucks, their delivery service is a bit lacking, few organic options for dairy and no flexibility in their family boxes. I will try farmers market when we get a car.

3. Olive oil and coconut oil. This is a tale of failure and success. I can’t use those oils on my face as my eyes after laser surgery are sensitive but you should try it! However, coconut oil has become my body moisturizer and I will NEVER go back. It feels amazing. Also, I feel like I am permanently floating in a cloud in Hawaii.

4. Travelling:  I was away for a few weeks visiting my parents. I forgot to take my coffee cup and stupidly thought I wont be getting take away coffee. Wrong. I should always take my coffee cup. I found that it was just harder to look for bulk things and try avoid packaging in general when you are in a new place especially with no access to a car. Virtually nothing seems to come in bulk in supermarkets except fruit and veges but even those seem to be packaged these days.

5. Nappy/Diaper waste: 50% of our waste comes from nappies/diapers and the other 50% from food packaging (+/-10%) I used a cloth diaper service in the U.S and felt great about it. It seems the service in Brisbane is twice as expensive.  I might have to start doing some laundering myself or start toilet training my toddler. Perhaps I will focus on the 50% food packaging before entertaining the laundering idea 😉 😉

OK, if you got this far, do tell… what are you waste-free living/green living success/failures?

















  1. suzysiu says:

    “If you live in an apartment with no balcony. That’s tough.” Worm farm or bokashi bucket? Have heard of worm farms inside, but I like that mine is outside.

    I was wondering what you were doing re nappies. While cloth nappies are great in terms of reducing waste, the amount of laundry & water involved doesn’t sound that great for a drought stricken place like QLD? Summer is meant to be a good time for toilet training?

    • Isis Nair says:

      Is summer good for that? well I have motivation to try now! I guess they dont need to be in so many clothes either.

      • suzysiu says:

        Yes, I think it’s because bubs can walk around the house/ garden with a bare bottom without catching cold, and get a better understanding of what’s happening when they do a wee/poo. And less layers means less laundry when there are accidents.

  2. suzysiu says:

    I think you’d be interested in Nude Food Day – Wednesday 19th October – it’s about eating unpackaged foods

  3. Sara says:

    Cloth nappies are not that hard to launder, esp with toddlers. No/few explodipoos! We just shake off any poo in the toilet, and chuck’m in the washing machine with a non-complicated detergent. Front loaders don’t use a lot of water, so I don’t feel guilty using it. We use the bumwear ones from

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